New Delhi: Since starting operations in May 2007, Osian’s Literary Agency has signed its first five writers, including renowned, award winning film-maker Saeed Mirza, IT giant and head of Mphasis Jerry Rao and three exciting newcomers - Omair Ahmed, Karan Bajaj and photographer Shalini Saran, who has written her first novel.
Negotiating the best advances for authors is one of the advantages of agency representation, and Osian has sold manuscript rights of virtually all its authors to publishers in India for impressive advances.
The agency has sold Indian sub-continent rights to Saeed Mirza’s ‘Postscript: A Letter to a Democratic Mother’, to East-West/Landmark Publishers, the new Tata-owned publishing imprint headed by Nilanjana Roy. Mirza himself describes his work as “a literary installation” that combines various genres; short story, anecdote, poetry, parable, legend, satire, travelogue, memoir, history, politics and film script. The result is a remarkable book which is a testament to Mirza’s own life and also to a period of Indian history, captured, in this book, with a film-maker’s eye for detail.
A promising new writer whom the agency has been successful in launching is Omair Ahmad. Penguin India has bought the rights to his accomplished collection of short stories ‘Unbelonging’, to be published next year. The stories are set in the cities of London and New Delhi, and in the small North Indian towns of Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Banda. With a cast of disparate characters, vividly drawn, including a young British Muslim woman who returns to her parents’ hometown Lucknow, a tractor driver, and a terrorist, Ahmad explores the breadth of India, through the minutiae of daily life.
Another successful sale by the agency is Karan Bajaj’s novel ‘Keep off the grass’, a hilarious take on life in B-School, rights to which have been sold to HarperCollins India. Samrat Ratan, US born son of immigrant Indian parents, quits a career on Wall Street to search for his roots in India…by enrolling for an MBA at IIM. As Samrat deals with the pressure cauldron that is IIM and at the same time grapples with the identity issues of the second generation Indian diaspora, we are taken on a roller coaster journey that takes us from IIM Bangalore, to the foothills of the Himalayas, to the ghats of Varanasi. What results is a funny and honest story, in the best of campus novel traditions.
Having sold these titles successfully in India, the agency is now focusing its efforts on selling them abroad, and all the manuscripts, including Shalini Saran’s ‘Spirits of the Forest’, a contemporary novel set in Delhi, are on offer with several publishers in the UK, North America, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other European countries. The agency will be represented at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October by Renuka Chatterjee, Senior Vice President, where many of these rights are expected to be sold.
Jerry Rao’s two manuscripts, one an anecdotal history of the IT industry in India, which incorporates interviews with some of the biggest names in IT, including FC Kohli, Kiran Karnik, and NR Narayana Murthy, and the other a non-fictional account of Rao’s journey through India’s cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, which brings out the changing face of contemporary India, are expected to be completed in the next few months. Penguin India will publish both books in India.
Neville Tuli, Chairman, Osian’s says: “The Literary Agency has started well and once the Osian’s Publishing & Design House is formally inaugurated the complementary energies will give an extra momentum to the rapid growth of India’s first professional Literary Agency. We expect to represent some of India’s finest writing talent, and establish a significant presence in the domestic as well as the international markets by the end of the financial year.”