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Foolproof success

“First Proof” provides something new for readers and writers

It was a night of remembrance and celebration. “First Proof - The Penguin Book of New Writing from India 3” was released recently at the India Habitat Centre. With a storm baring its fangs, the venue was shifted indoors. But the night still succeeded in being a success.

The book is dedicated to Shakti Bhatt, who passed away a year ago. Her work is included in the book but she never saw its completed version.

The very form of “First Proof” is experimental. The book is divided into fiction and non-fiction.

But it’s not a simple division. Instead, it reads from the front and the back. It’s a book without a back jacket. This might be disorienting, but the contributors find that it keeps with the spirit of the book. Mridula Koshy, one of the contributors, feels it’s clever while Shubhra Gupta believes it gives the book an interesting edge.

With over 20 contributors, the night was marked by readings by Aman Sethi, Mridula Koshy, Noreen Sarna and Shubhra Gupta.

The pieces were distinct in their wry humour and clever insights. Sethi and Gupta are both journalists and read non-fiction pieces. Gupta, a film critic, dedicated her piece to, “Those who love my work. And those who don’t.” Sarna (16-years-old) recited poetry and Koshy pulled back memories from her fiction .

The extracts from the book were followed by a jazz performance.

Gupta and Sethi confer that “First Proof” provides an important platform for first-time writers. Koshy elaborates, “This book gives a start. Most anthologies collect established writers. This works mutually for readers and writers. New writers are discovered. And readers find something new without feeling cheated.” The compilation includes prose, poetry and even an extract from a graphic novel. But Koshy says, “I don’t necessarily think the writing itself is very experimental.”

While she appreciates the work of the others, she doesn’t necessarily feel that the style is new.

The first two First Proofs met with warm praise. While it provided readers with unheard or familiar voices in a new garb, it also provided an important opportunity to writers. It is said to have received recognition even in regional papers.

NN

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