Connect with us

Books & Authors

Short, Not So Sweet – Jatin Khandelwal revived the art of storytelling



You read a story either for the content or for the style of storytelling. Seldom, you do so for both. Author Mr. Jatin Khandelwal , in his book ‘Short, Not So Sweet’ had been able to put a collection of fourteen such stories which appeal for both their contents as well as storytelling style.

Though stories with a twisting end are the most popular of the lot, constructing and deconstructing such stories are the toughest of jobs one writer is presented with. Mr. Jatin Khandelwal unlocks this complex trick with ease. He had taken the art of telling thrilling stories to the next level by keeping the length of the narration just about perfect and by adding the right degree of twist to end the story.

One story that stands out is ‘Abracadabra’. Through a magical path of its own, the story revolves around multiple emotions effortlessly and in the end leaves the reader with a sense of hindsight thought. The other stories too are written equally well by this young, adept writer Mr. Jatin Khandelwal.

To end, all we can say is ‘good luck’ to the super talented ‘storyteller’ – Jatin Khandelwal.

Buy Short, Not So Sweet From Amazon For Just Rs.150

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Books & Authors

“Publishing a book is not only about writing, it is much more than that”, says Nayana in a recent Interview



About The Author:
Nayana Phukan, the author of the bestselling novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ is a software engineer and an avid traveler. Nayana is a bookworm since her childhood days and she always had a dream to write books of her own. She started writing her debut novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ in November, 2019 and finally, published it on the last week of July, 2020. Nayana currently lives in the city of dreams, Mumbai and she believes in enjoying every moment of life.

Briefly describe your journey until now. Have you accomplished what you wanted or still have a mile to go?
Since my childhood days, I have been a bookworm and I always had a dream that one day, I would write novels of my own. But for me, the challenge was to find an ample amount of time for writing. I am a software engineer and have been working as an IT professional for the last nine years. It was not easy for me to find out time for writing but apart from an engineer and a writer, I am also an avid traveler. For a long time, I was planning to start a travel blog and on one fine day of 2018, I started writing travel blogs and thankfully, everyone loved it. During that time, I was working as a senior web developer in a major e-commerce firm and due to immense work pressure, it was not easy for me to find time for writing. But I didn’t give up and started to draft some small stories apart from travel blogging in my spare time. That was the time when I realized that I should take writing more seriously. I started writing my debut novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ in November 2019 and finally published it in the last week of July 2020.

I am very happy to see all the love of the readers towards my book. I was feeling out of the world that day when I saw my book on the bestselling list of Amazon. ‘Dawn in Florence’ is the first step in the world of novel writing and I believe that I still have a mile to go.

What is your book “Dawn in Florence” all about?
‘Dawn in Florence’ is a tale of unconditional and mature love that does not follow any prejudice. This is a story of a strong and independent single mother Leena Shenoy, who fell in love in her late thirties, far away from her kids and her motherland India, in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Stunning Italy added colors to the black and white life of Leena. Her complicated love story that blossomed in the beautiful parts of Italy, taught her about that side of love, which is just like a rose with thorns, beautiful yet painful. Life is not always fair but every chapter of it teaches a new lesson and only if we learn to inhale the bright side of it, life becomes beautiful. From the magical Venice of northern Italy to the breath-taking Amalfi coast of southern Italy, from the fashion capital Milan to the architecture capital Rome, every chapter of her Italy diary was full of surprises, love, friendship and unexpected turn of events. She had never imagined falling in love with someone far away from her homeland, but love always comes without prior notice and it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing this book? And what is the most challenging?
Writing a book was always a dream for me and finally, my dream has come true. I have put a lot of time, energy and effort to write this book and I am feeling happy when it is published. But what makes me happier is the beautiful feedback and compliments from the readers. The most challenging part was finding out an ample amount of time to write and self-publishing the book was also a big decision. I always believed that if my work is good, it would be appreciated one day or another and now, I feel overwhelmed to see the readers embracing my book with so much love.

How much research and efforts were required on your part to complete this book?
As I have already mentioned above, I started writing this book in November 2019 and published it in the last week of July 2020. Writing and publishing this book was a bit of a journey for me. To be very honest, I did not do much research on this book. Leena and Siddharth are fictional characters and this story is an outcome of my imagination. This love story is set against the beautiful backdrops of Italy and I spared no effort to describe the beauty of stunning Italy in my book. I started writing this book just after a vacation to Italy and the young and fresh memories of that vacation helped to describe the scenic beauty of the Italian places so vividly.

Would you like to share some writing tips with our readers and aspiring writers?
If you are passionate about writing, then you should follow your passion. Be it writing or anything else it always brings the best out of you. Try to find out some time for writing every day. I know it is not easy all the time, but try to make it a part of your daily routine. Always believe in yourself and let your dreams be your wings. 

I want to say one more thing to all the aspiring writers who are planning to publish a book that, publishing a book is not only about writing, it is much more than that. If you want to be a successful author, you have to think like an entrepreneur, not only as a writer.

Last but not the least, how are you dealing with current times where everything is so uncertain?
Definitely, this time is tough but I have faith that things will get better with time and the world we call normal will be back soon. Currently, I am living in Mumbai, a city that is one of the worst-hit by coronavirus. We are almost home stuck since March 2020 which is frustrating sometimes but I am trying my best to utilize this time in learning new things. I want to tell everyone that we should not lose hope. Because after every storm, there appears a rainbow and oftentimes, the brightest rainbows follow the darkest rainstorms. Here, I want to mention a quote from my book ‘Dawn in Florence’:
“After every storm, a rainbow will smile
After every night, the sun will rise
‘Hold on Pain Ends’, that’s why they call it hope
After every darkness, there’s always a light.”

Buy DAWN IN FLORENCE From Amazon For Just Rs.245

Continue Reading

Books & Authors

Women Authors Cope with the Pandemic



Covid-19 has created unique challenges for women. Preliminary research conducted by the journal Nature Research shows that women in academia are publishing fewer journal articles than they were before the outbreak. To get an idea of whether the same could be true for women authors in general, PW reached out to some who are also mothers to learn how the lockdowns have affected their work.

Prior to the pandemic, a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that women in the U.S. spend an average of two hours per day more than men on domestic responsibilities. This is due in part to the fact that women are more likely to have partners who are also employed, to be single parents, and to have elder care responsibilities. Additionally, the division of domestic labor often comes down to who earns more, and women are consistently paid less than men.

This issue has been compounded by the pandemic. Though data on women’s publishing rates in academia is clear-cut, gendered data on book publishing rates is harder to find. However, women in both fields face the same challenges: the extended shutdowns of schools and childcare facilities mean that parents, and especially mothers, have had to take on homeschooling and extra caregiving responsibilities. Hours of the day that were once devoted to work have been spent trying to keep children educated and entertained.

Alessandra Minello, a social demographer and professor at the University of Florence in Italy, studied publishing rates of women in academia and found that they typically submit fewer studies than their male counterparts. Minello works on a project called Smart Mama, for which she and another researcher recently interviewed 38 academics who are mothers in the U.S. and Italy. They found that these women had to prioritize childcare and teaching duties—both of which they are more likely than men to be responsible for—over publishing.

Minello fears that young mothers beginning their careers during the pandemic will struggle to obtain higher degrees and receive grants as a result of publishing less, which will affect advancement in their fields. She suspects that mothers who write trade books, though less likely to be responsible for teaching duties, will also slow their writing as they are forced to prioritize childcare.

Marcy Dermansky, author of Twins and Bad Marie, is a single mother to an 11-year-old daughter. Dermansky used to schedule her writing time when her daughter was in school, but that changed when schooling shifted to home. “It was just pretty much impossible to work, because she required a lot of help,” she said. “I think it’s always hard for mothers in writing with childcare, but the pandemic has made it exponentially harder.”

Spending time helping her daughter with e-learning meant Dermansky hasn’t been able to make much progress on her upcoming novel. “During those months, I didn’t even try to work,” she said.

Vanessa Lillie, author of Little Voices and For the Best, is currently working on her third book and has found that she is a month behind where she thought she’d be. Lillie has a five-year-old son and previously worked while he was at school or soccer practice. Her husband, a lawyer, spends much of his days on Zoom calls, meaning Lillie is the only one available to care for their son most of the time. “Having children in the house is just a stream of constant disruption,” she said. “It is really difficult to write on that deeper level I need when I am constantly interrupted.”

Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody’s Daughter and Necessary Roughness, has faced unique challenges balancing revisions on her upcoming novels, Finding My Voice (Soho Press) and The Evening Hero (Simon & Schuster), with caring for her autistic son, who also has other learning disabilities and medical issues. Lee and her husband are schooling and caring for their son without any outside help in their small New York City apartment. Lee said she struggles to focus at home but has managed to get some work done at a friend’s apartment. “I just have days where I feel like I am not in control of anything,” she added.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, author of Bittersweet and June, has a four-year-old and an 11-year-old. She sold her latest book over the winter and initially thought she’d have plenty of time to complete it by the summer. However, when the pandemic struck, she found herself scrambling. She and her husband moved in with another family to share childcare responsibilities, and though she said the arrangement has provided her with a great advantage in comparison to other writer-mothers she knows, it has been difficult for her to meet her deadline. “I don’t know how I am going to hand my book in in two weeks,” she said in late August. “I guess I’m just not going to sleep.”

Robin Romm, author of The Tilt and The Mercy Papers, also found writing in the pandemic to be nearly impossible. Caring for her 15-month-old and four-year-old has left her exhausted and unable to work. “It’s not only that you don’t have the physical time,” she said, “but you don’t really have the mental space to think expansive thoughts.”

Romm’s husband is also a writer, but he works full-time as a professor. Though he has been able to help with childcare, he had to attend meetings to prepare for a drastically changed fall semester. Romm’s more flexible schedule has meant that she has to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities.

The pandemic has highlighted a number of long-standing issues within publishing, and the challenges it has created for women authors appears to be yet another that needs to be addressed.


Continue Reading

Books & Authors

Will the pandemic enable us to imagine our cities with more bookstores?



How many bookstores does Delhi have? Sadly, no one knows, and it is hard to even hazard a guess. In any case, it would again depend on definition. For example, do you include all the shops that sell school textbooks, or other specialised books such as law books? That number would run into hundreds, if not thousands. Do you include the pavement sellers who spread out their wares in major markets? Again, the number would be in the hundreds or thousands. Do you include shops that sell books by the weight, or those that sell thrillers at fixed prices? Hard to put a number to these.

Even if you have a narrower definition of bookstore, as a shop that sells a variety of books for the general reader and the scholar, or stores that specialise in a niche within this (for example, stores that sell exclusively or largely children’s books), and which source their books from the trade, we don’t really know how many bookstores the city has, but it is safe to hazard a guess that now the number is no longer in the thousands or hundreds, but in the tens.

We know something else as well. That bookstores are not spread evenly across the city. If you want to buy the latest bestseller in English, you’ll have to go to central or south Delhi, and if you had to buy a Hindi book, you’d have to go to the area around Darya Ganj, near the old city.

If you live in West Delhi, as I’ve done for nearly a quarter century, or if you live in east Delhi, across the river, you’re not in luck. You’ll have to trek across town to get to a half-decent bookstore. You’d be marginally luckier if you lived near the North Campus of Delhi University, where you’d find a few bookstores that stock at least the more popular authors. But again, if you were looking for, say, slightly less popular literary fiction, you’d have no choice but to go to, say, Khan Market.

Look at this differently: for a population as large as that of Bulgaria, there simply aren’t any bookstores worth the name.

The birth of our bookshop

Hardly surprising then, that when we at LeftWord Books decided to open a bookstore in Shadipur in West Delhi, people thought we were mad.

Most of all, the locals thought we were mad. Why would anyone want to open a bookstore in Shadipur, which is basically a working class/lower middle class neighbourhood? The neighbourhood has no boutiques, no fine dining restaurants, no art galleries, no fancy electronics stores, no upmarket grocery stores, no pets shops – in other words, none of the kinds of businesses that provide bookstores with their footfalls.

Our neighbours are a wholesale tailoring shop, a (now shut) pharmacy, a milk booth, and a shop that sells rolls, biryani, and other fast food. None of them provides us with footfalls. But, as our neighbours discovered to their delight, our customers do provide them with business, particularly the fast food shop and milk booth. The local tea shop, a few hundred yards away, also does good business when we hold events.

Events, in fact, have been an important driver of sales for us. When we got this space in Shadipur, we didn’t do it alone. We tied up with three other organisations – the Jana NatyaManch, the theatre group of which I’ve been a part for over three decades; the All India Democratic Women’s Association; and the School Teachers’ Federation of India. We banded together and pooled our resources, so our bargaining power increased, and together we were able to purchase the entire four-storey building, with each organisation getting a floor. Jana NatyaManch set up Studio Safdar, an independent arts space, so anyone who came to Studio Safdar would enjoy the bookstore and vice-versa.

Studio Safdar is named after Safdar Hashmi, who, along with a worker-spectator, was killed when Jana NatyaManch was attacked while performing a street play on 1 January 1989. We inaugurated Studio Safdar on his birthday, 12 April, in 2012. With 1 May round the corner, we decided to launch the bookstore on that day and call it May Day Bookstore.

The ambition at the time was to create a left-wing cafe-cum-bookstore. While the cafe idea has remained more or less a pipe dream – we operate the cafe only on special occasions, including May Day every year – the bookstore is now an established part of Delhi’s intellectual landscape.

Building a different books space

What sets May Day Bookstore apart from any other “regular” bookstore is that we carry a highly curated list. We are biased in two, somewhat overlapping, directions: we stock books by independent publishers; and we stock left-wing authors and titles. We almost never stock the latest release or bestsellers from mainstream presses. We figure that if people want that, they can go to any bookstore in central or south Delhi. Or they can find them online.

If they are making the trek all the way to come to May Day Bookstore – and the “trek is more psychological than real, because we are excellently connected by public transport and much closer to centre of town than most fancier locations in south Delhi – then we’d better give them something that will woo them. And what better to woo book lovers than with stellar books you don’t generally get to see in bookstores?

This, to my mind, is the key to a great bookstore – that it provides us with the joy of discovery. Sometimes we find titles or authors we weren’t looking for or thinking of, and sometimes we find titles or authors that we didn’t even know existed. Any bookstore that gives you that experience again and again is a bookstore you’re likely to keep going back to.

Then something else happened, serendipitously, which aided this process. A friend called one day and said he was trying to unload his late father’s books. His father had been a professor and had a great collection of books in his chosen area – history and sociology – apart from general books. I asked my friend to donate them to a library – wouldn’t his father’s university be delighted?

Turns out, no. Most libraries are acutely short on space, and it’s no longer easy to donate books to them. My friend was not only willing to donate his father’s collection to us, but also urged me to start a used books space at May Day. I was sceptical. We had no financial bandwidth to buy used books, no matter how cheap, and I had no idea how to manage the used books business. (We didn’t even know how to manage the main bookstore, but we had plunged in regardless and were now learning the ropes.) My friend felt there would be many others who’d like to donate books. Pushing against my resistance, he sent out an email to a small group of his friends asking for donations of books for the store.

I was flabbergasted. That one email was forwarded multiple times by scores of people, and we were flooded with requests for pickups of books. Fortunately, we were approaching 1 May, and we turn that day into a bit of a festival anyway, where books, music, ideas, coffee, all come together. Over the years, May Day Bookstore has become a niche store that people seek out – as articles here, here, and here show.

Over time, the used books section has become a big draw, particularly for young people. What’s been even more heartening is that many youngsters, who would initially come to buy only used books because they are inexpensive, also started browsing, and then buying, new books. Over the years, scores of students also volunteered at the annual May Day gala, helping us sort, price, and arrange books, and dealing with the huge footfalls we get that day. Volunteers, in fact, have become the bookstore’s chief ambassadors, and for the past few years, we’ve had people applying for volunteering even before we made the public announcement.

We’ve also noticed something else. Everybody who comes to May Day Bookstore ends up buying something. We hardly ever have a person who visits us but doesn’t buy. Not only that – because May Day is located in a neighbourhood that most people don’t visit for anything else, almost all sales are for multiple books. Nobody makes the trek to only buy one book!

When the pandemic hit

Thus it was that last year, about seven years after being set up, the bookstore made a profit – a tiny one, admittedly – through the year. We finally had a little bit of money that we were going to spend on air-conditioning the space.

Then the pandemic hit. We shut the store when the All-India lockdown began, and only opened in a very limited way a full three months later, in late June, because by then we had started getting orders online and those had to be serviced. For three months or more, however, there was literally no earning. Even though we are now back in business, footfalls have been low – never before have we felt so elated if we get one customer in the entire week!

That is only to be expected, given that a large proportion of our regular customers are young people and students, dependent mainly on public transport. Then there’s also the genuine health concerns. There are two reasons we haven’t gone under. One, we don’t pay rent, since we own the space; and two, the online business on has kept us going.

Our neighbour comrades also had it tough. The AIDWA office remained shut for over three months, even though they were engaged in providing relief to victims of the February communal violence in Delhi, as well as to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The same was true for STFI. Their members now had to teach online, so their office has also remained shut for months.

Jana NatyaManch moved its activities online, but Studio Safdar, used by Delhi’s theatre groups for rehearsals and performances, has been shut for over five months. Shadipur itself has also suffered, since a large number of enterprises depend on the labour of migrant workers to stay alive.

What of the future?

What does the future hold? It is hard to say. But there’s a couple of points I’d like to make.

One, the printed book, which is really the first industrial artefact of mass communication, is not going away anywhere. In fact, while a number of other technologies have become archaic and redundant or niche, and in some cases even extinct – think of film of the analogue era, for both still and moving images, or analogue voice recording technologies like tapes, or the short-lived personal pager from the mid-1990s – the printed book has remained more or less unchanged through the centuries.

Printing technologies have changed radically, of course, but the final artefact they produce, the book itself, is basically the same object that existed half a millennium ago. In other words, the printed book is a highly resilient artefact of the industrial era that shows no sign of being edged out by the digital era.

Two, because agglomerating e-commerce sites work on the basis of big data and algorithms, it is hard to chance upon books and authors that you may be interested in, but that do not notch up big sales. This is particularly true of books and authors that go against the grain, that challenge the zeitgeist. As it is the online space is so full of noise and an information overload. All this means that there will be need for carefully curated niche bookstores, that cater to specific tastes.


Continue Reading


Enter your email address to get latest updates



Copyright © 2018 - 2019 Delhi Wire.