Singapore ... a little country that gets its priorities right! :
Arrived there Friday afternoon and went straight to the hotel to meet David Davidar (below) for the interview. He's one of the great heroes of the publishing world, putting Penguin India firmly on the world map, working with some of the greatest writers of our time, and now a novelist in his own right with The House of Blue Mangoes and now The Solitude of Emperors.
David also introduced me to Jo Lusby, general manager of Penguin in China, and what began as an interview relaxed into a fascinating chat about favourite authors, the Man Asia prize and the future of publishing.
You'll get to hear more when I've transcribed my tape and got the article written!
On the Saturday morning I made my way to the Arts House where the Singapore Writers Festival was being held and what was the old parliament building makes a stunning venue.
I went to hear Indian author, Anita Nair (above), whose novel Ladies' Coupe (a kind of updated and feminist Canterbury Tales set on a train) I thoroughly enjoyed.
Anita talked about her love of mindless violent films, making the decision to break with her advertising career, and her writing process.
I then caught David Davidar in two sessions back to back. The first moderated (very well) by novelist Meira Chand, and the second with him in conversation with Kunal Basu (below left) who manages to combine being an author of several highly acclaimed novels (The Opium Clerk, The Minaturist, and Racists) with an impressive academic career (just take a look at his CV!). He's heading for Malaysia in April so you may get a chance to meet him then.
In the afternoon it was time for our panel on litblogging - one of a series of discussions about different aspects for blogging. For me it was a chance to reconnect with my Singaporean blogging friends in "real life". Deepika Shetty (a.k.a. read@peace) was as always a skilled moderator (below), and the other panelists were Zafar Anjum (Dream Ink) blog ...
and Rambling Librarian, Ivan Chew (below far left, with me looking terribly enthused!).
There was so much to talk about, and a lot of passion for what we do, and the hour fairly whizzed past. I was sad that I didn't get a chance to chat a bit more to Ivan, whom I hadn't met before, but hope we get to connect again.
It was great also to talk to a Singaporean audience as I really would love more of them to drop by this blog and pass me book gossip from down there. (If you're from Singapore and reading this give me a wave!!)
(More pictures and stories to come!)
Zafar captures the day very well indeed.