Anita Roy: ‘Children’s publishing in India today is a necessary spectrum of books that keep it real and those that keep it fantastic’

Anita Roy: ‘Children’s publishing in India today is a necessary spectrum of books that keep it real and those that keep it fantastic’

Editor-writer Anita Roy, 55, has played a pivotal role in Indian publishing for children and young adults. In 2004, she set up Young Zubaan, an imprint that promotes diversity in children’s publishing; she was also one of the founding members of the popular Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature in 2008. In this interview, the UK-based Roy speaks about her debut YA novel on death and ecological destruction and darkness in children’s literature. Excerpts: Gravepyres School for the Recently Deceased is out at a time when the world is facing its own fragility. What made you contemplate a book on death? There’s a point in the novel when Jose, the main protagonist, remembers his grandfather saying: it’s amazing how it’s the one thing that is 100 per cent guaranteed to happen to everyone, and, yet, no one ever imagines it will ever happen to them. It is extremely difficult to contemplate the fact of your own mortality. The psychiatrist Irvin Yalom has a phrase for it: ‘staring at the sun’. In his book of the same name, he writes: ‘I feel strongly — as a man who will himself die one day in the not-too-distant future and as a psychiatrist who has spent decades dealing with death anxiety — that confronting death allows us…to re-enter life in a richer, more compassionate manner.’ There’s a great question I was once asked: ‘What is the opposite of death?’ Immediately, the answer comes, ‘Life!’ but that’s wrong. The opposite of death is ...
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