Journalist | Writer | Analyst
The ‘alternative’ publishing house, Navayana, is wrong to cancel Joe D’Cruz’s contract for the English translation of his Tamil classic, Aazhi Soozh Ulagu (Ocean Ringed World), just because the author has emerged as a Modi supporter.
The literary value of D’Cruz’s Tamil novel has to be judged in and of itself, just as we judge and admire Wagner’s Tannhauser or Lohengrin or Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs (especially as sung by Elisabeth Schwazkopf) or Ein Heldenleben for their beauty and not the anti-semitic views of the composers (not to speak of the compromises Strauss made with the Nazis).
Writers undergo changes and I am sure D’Cruz’s blind embrace of the Modi cult will tell on his future writing. But to pulp, in a manner of speaking, ‘Ocean Ringed World’ before it has even gone to press is rank intolerance. Has anyone stopped appreciating Sholay because Hema Malini is on Modi’s side today? Have we stopped playing Bhupen Hazarika’s ‘Ganga tumi’ because he made the mistake of joining the BJP towards the end of his life?
Ironically, Navayana itself published Namdeo Dhasal’s A Current of Blood in 2011, long after the late Marathi poet had become an admirer of Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena.
So what’s bitten the publishing house now? As a friend of mine puts it, ‘Navayana has been Penguined’.
Postscript: The senior journalist B. Kolappan reports in The Hindu that Navayana is ready to reconsider its decision not to publish Joe D’Cruz’s book:
S. Anand, publisher, said, “In retrospect, I believe, as a publisher I responded more in anger than in sound judgement.”
His statement posted in the Navayana website titled ‘The Storm in the D’ Cruz Ocean’, however, clarified that at this juncture the publication of the book would be kept in abeyance till the translator of the book, V. Geetha, consented to let him use the text.