In one of those nice little coincidences, which make life that much more interesting, I got an email the other day from someone called Maegan, about Tara Books. They’re an Indian company specialising in visual art books (for adults and children) and create beautiful and interesting books. Which would be enough to make me excited – but the coincidence I mentioned is that Maegan is known to me as Migs, and we were friends at Oxford. I had no idea she was working for a publisher, or that she had left the country – so I was surprised and delighted in equal measures!
There was a small part of me thinking “Oh dear, what if I don’t like the books she’s representing?” but I needn’t have worried. These are beautiful books, and would make brilliant presents. Let’s look first at Tsunami which is a ‘Patua’.
According to the back, Patua is a ‘form of narrative graphic art, comprising a series of panels, stitched together to form a scroll. It belongs to a performance tradition of Bengal when song-writer and artist went from home to home, showing pictures and singing out their stories.’
Tsunami is the first Patua scroll to be published in book form, and unbelievably this is silkscreen printed by hand. Tara Books have a printing unit run by fair-trade standards. This is such a stunning book – playing with the boundaries of the book, perhaps – and would make a wonderful gift.
And then there is In the Land of Punctuation by Christian Morgenstern, illustrated by Rathna Ramanathan and translated from the German by Sirish Rao. It could have been made specifically for me. It’s a 1905 poem which combines a fun, whimsical story about punctuation with political undertones about segregation… didn’t think that could be done, did you? What makes this version so special are the illustrations, all of which are composed of punctuation marks.
Tara Books also publish novels, and I have The To-Let House by Daisy Hasan to try later, but I wanted to draw attention to these artistic books. Any grammar-stickler you know would love In the Land of Punctuation, and anybody who appreciates Indian art would adore Tsunami. Go and see Tara Books’ website for more info – I hope we hear a lot more about this company, they seem really special. And I’m not just saying that because Migs knows where I live!