Wednesday 1 September 2010

Tara Books

In one of those nice little coincidences, which make life that much more interesting, I got an email the other day from someone called Maegan, about Tara Books. They're an Indian company specialising in visual art books (for adults and children) and create beautiful and interesting books. Which would be enough to make me excited - but the coincidence I mentioned is that Maegan is known to me as Migs, and we were friends at Oxford. I had no idea she was working for a publisher, or that she had left the country - so I was surprised and delighted in equal measures!

There was a small part of me thinking "Oh dear, what if I don't like the books she's representing?" but I needn't have worried. These are beautiful books, and would make brilliant presents. Let's look first at Tsunami which is a 'Patua'.

According to the back, Patua is a 'form of narrative graphic art, comprising a series of panels, stitched together to form a scroll. It belongs to a performance tradition of Bengal when song-writer and artist went from home to home, showing pictures and singing out their stories.'

Tsunami is the first Patua scroll to be published in book form, and unbelievably this is silkscreen printed by hand. Tara Books have a printing unit run by fair-trade standards. This is such a stunning book - playing with the boundaries of the book, perhaps - and would make a wonderful gift.

And then there is In the Land of Punctuation by Christian Morgenstern, illustrated by Rathna Ramanathan and translated from the German by Sirish Rao. It could have been made specifically for me. It's a 1905 poem which combines a fun, whimsical story about punctuation with political undertones about segregation... didn't think that could be done, did you? What makes this version so special are the illustrations, all of which are composed of punctuation marks.

And then the captured creatures freeze
Imprisoned by parentheses

Tara Books also publish novels, and I have The To-Let House by Daisy Hasan to try later, but I wanted to draw attention to these artistic books. Any grammar-stickler you know would love In the Land of Punctuation, and anybody who appreciates Indian art would adore Tsunami. Go and see Tara Books' website for more info - I hope we hear a lot more about this company, they seem really special. And I'm not just saying that because Migs knows where I live!


  1. What a charming punctuation book! And how pleasant to reconnect with an old friend as well. :)

  2. I do know where you live! But don't worry, won't be coming to pester you any time soon :)

    Lovely photos of Tsunami, it is one of my favourite Tara Books. There is a video here where you can here the song being performed:

  3. Wow it is so pretty! Looks like they would make good presents, will keep Tara books in mind :-)

  4. Really a lovely website, but ran into lots of problems when trying to buy two books. It just wouldn't accept my information on name, address, etc. You might tell your friend. Also, they wrote that I had choices about shipping but that didn't work either. Otherwise I would have bought two books which I liked a lot.

  5. Just a couple of days ago I read another post on Tara books (cant for the life of me remember which blog) and I did go visit, emailed them and also got a reply. They are based in Chennai and hopefully I should try to go visit. We have scrolls like this done in temples and this is an ancient form of preserving stories, astrological data etc. Its called ola in the vernacular here.

  6. Hi

    Kristi - sorry to reply this way but couldn't find an email address on your blog.

    Just to say that we were upgrading some aspects of the website last week, but it should work fine now. The only delivery option is now courier. This is because we've recently had lots of problems (damaged/lost parcels) with the regular Indian 'book post' recently. If you have any more issues though, please email us on mail [at]


    Tara Books

  7. Kristen - it is such a good idea, that book - and the nicest way to reconnect!

    Migs - thanks :D

    Willa - do, they'd be brilliant under the Christmas tree

    Kristi - I hope you spotted Migs' answer!

    Mystica - Thanks for that info, and how brilliant to be able to visit them - let us know if/when you do!


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