Each year, Sudhanva Deshpande, Suvendu Mallick and I go on our LeftWord Tour. Last year we went to Mumbai, where we visited IIT, TIIS and St. Xavier's College. We also organised a walk through Girangaon, led by the veteran trade unionist Datta Iswalkar.
One of the evenings, we held a panel discussion to release our volume - Communist Histories, vol. 1 - with contributions from Comrade Ashok Dhawale and Comrade L. B. Dhangar. It was a remarkable experience to have Comrade Dhangar give his first-hand account of the Warli Uprising of 1945-47 and its aftermath. In Archana Prasad's essay for the volume, Comrade Dhangar plays a significant role.
We also visited the offices of Economic and Political Weekly and Scroll.
One highlight of our trip was the Blitz tour with P. Sainath, to his old haunts and into his stories. An account of that visit appeared in Scroll. When death-threats came to the hacks at the paper, Habib Joosab would respond, 'We don't get killed on Mondays and Tuesdays. These are our press days. We're too busy for all that. No one's available for dying'. That's the spirit of journalism - equal parts bravado and humour.
The Mumbai trip was a terrific experience for us - meeting those who read LeftWord books and those who want to write them. During the trip we certainly did find a few writers and translators for books that are coming out in the year ahead.
This year we are more ambitious. We will hold events in Delhi, then Bangalore, and then Chennai (with a few events in Kolkata). Here is a partial list our of events:
1) Socialist Writing Workshop at May Day Bookstore and Cafe in Delhi on May 26 from 10am to 4pm. If you are interested send an email to [email protected] with the subject line 'writing workshop' and tell us your age, your contact number, who you are are and why you'd like to be in the workshop (150 words) as well as why you liked a recent book (150 words max).
2) Non-fiction Writing Workshop in Bangalore at the Mount Carmel College on 58, Palace Road on 28 May from 10am to 3pm. If you are interested, write to [email protected] the subject line 'writing workshop' and tell us your age, your contact number, who you are are and why you'd like to be in the workshop (150 words) as well as why you liked a recent book (150 words max).
3) A Two-Day Workshop in Chennai, details to be announced on 31 May and 1 June, with Tamil Selvan, Era Jawahar, P. Sainath and myself. This is going to be a really superb time.
And more events that will be announced as we go along - with trips to bookstores and to writers, as we take LeftWord Books on the road......
Have you, by the way, visited the LeftWord Books website? Lots of new books to browse, including a new book on Palestine's Freedom Theatre, Ambedkar's India and Communism, K. A. Manikumar's Murder in Mudukulathur and of course Teesta Setalvad's Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir. We also have coming up Cecilia Bobrovskoya's Rank and File Bolshevik, a charming memoir of one of the thousands of people who organised the Russian Revolution. And then, soon, a book I have edited called Red October: The Russian Revolution and the Communist Horizon (with essays by Irfan Habib, Amar Farooqui, BT Ranadive, Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Prabhat Patnaik, Jodi Dean, Prabir Purkayastha and Shahrzad Mojab). That's a really special book.
The picture above is from a year ago at May Day Bookstore & Cafe - I'm signing a book and my mum is sipping tea. She turns 88 in July and seems to get more energy as each day goes by. Some of you might know about her recent interaction with Amitabh Bachchan. I'll write about it soon.
So there it goes. See you on the LeftWord tour......which sometimes looks like this: