India Literature and Publishing Sector Study launched

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The British Council and the Art X Company have released ‘India Literature and Publishing Sector Study’, a pioneering primary research project aimed at understanding the challenges faced by Indian publishers, agents, authors, translators, and industry bodies when making literature written in Indian languages more widely available to an international English-speaking audience.

The study closely examines the role of literary festivals and events, trends in digitisation, perceptions of Indian literature in English translation abroad, the sector’s skilling needs and gaps, as well as its intersections with the National Education Policy 2020. The outcome of the research identifies opportunities for working and collaborating more globally, specifically with the UK, in order to promote Indian literature in translation, going forward. Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council, said, “Through our work in literature, we have always focused on building connections and understanding between literary professionals across the globe. Therefore, the main aim of conducting the research was to identify barriers to internationalisation faced by Indian literature and publishing professionals and support the Indian literature sector which has suffered because of the global pandemic. Furthermore, some Indian languages are more represented in translation than others, hence through this report, the idea is to also help Indian Literature in different and more languages reach foreign shores. Research and creative industry mapping are an important aspect of our work to facilitate informed decision and policy-making for strengthening the creative economy.”

While, Rashmi Dhanwani, Founder and Director, The Art X Company, said, “We are excited to work with British Council to bring this crucial research on India’s vibrant literature and publishing sector to light. India has 427 recognised languages, with 22 official languages, yet most Indian literature known globally has been written in English, with very little Indian language literature in translation making it to western markets. The report identifies the various challenges faced by the sector and outlines specific recommendations for the publishing ecosystem and the translation ecosystem. The insights from the study have begun to trigger vital conversations amongst stakeholders, and our hope is to see the recommendations manifest as outcomes.”

The most crucial recommendation that was widely suggested across the board was the need for a curated database of Indian literature available in English translation, and a showcase of such a database that could be accessed by agents,publishers and others interested in buying rights for the UK market. It is essential to make Indian literature in translation more visible to Anglophone publishers, and this also requires promoting writers and translators,and inviting publishers to India to engage with the publishing and literary ecosystem.

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