Namita Gokhale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Namita Gokhale
Namita Gokhale delivering the special address at PubliCon 2012
Namita Gokhale delivering the special address at PubliCon 2012
Born26 January 1956
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
OccupationWriter, Publisher, Festival Director
Period1956 – present
SubjectIndian Literature, World Literature, Publishing

Namita Gokhale is an Indian writer, publisher and festival director. She is the author of sixteen books including nine works of fiction.Things to Leave Behind has been published in November 2016. It is a rich, panoramic historical novel that shows Kumaon and the Raj as you have never seen them. Illuminated with painstaking detail, taking on the complications of caste, race and culture, this is a compelling historical novel of epic sweep and is described as Namita Gokhale's most ambitious novel yet.[1][2][3][4] Namita Gokhale won the Sushila Devi Literature Award for her novel "Things to Leave Behind" in January this year. She was awarded in the 'Best Book of Fiction Written by a Woman Author' category at the inaugural edition of Bhopal Literature and Art Festival, 2019. Things to Leave Behind has received the Best Fiction(English) Jury Award at the Valley of Words International Literature Festival 2017 and is on the long list for the 2018 Dublin Literary Award.

Namita Gokhale was conferred the Centenary National Award for Literature by the Asam Sahitya Sabha in Guwahati in 2017 "for her literary contributions as well as her service to the nation in supporting and showcasing literary talents and creating a literary environment in the country"

The new double edition Double Bill: Priya and Paro brings together the cult classic Paro: Dreams of Passion and Priya: Take Two in one classic volume, taking the liberated, brazen and all-too human Paro and her natural counterpart, the more timorous Priya, to new readers and old.[5][6]

Lost in Time:Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions her new book for young readers released 30 November 2017. It is an intense yet tender look at a rare friendship as well as the abiding puzzles of the past.[7]

Gokhale also edited the recently published The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-east. The anthology focuses on a crucial, enthralling, politically turbulent, yet often under-reported part of the Himalayan belt.[8][9]

As a sequel to the anthology In Search of Sita: Revisiting Mythology published in 2009, Finding Radha: The Quest for Love, published in December 2018 is collection of poetry, prose and translation that enter the historical as well as the artistic dimensions of the eternal romance of Radha and Krishna.[10]

Gokhale has contributed an introduction to the forthcoming biography of Ra'na Liaqat Ali Khan--The Begum, a well-researched portrayal of an intrepid and passionate stateswoman and wife of Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh in 1956 and spent her childhood between New Delhi and Nainital, in the foothills of the Himalayas. A Kumaoni by birth, she married to Rajiv Gokhale when she was eighteen. Gokhale dropped out of college after a conflict over the bias against Indian literatures in the curriculum. She then published the film magazine Super from Bombay in the late seventies.[11]


Namita Gokhale is the author of eighteen books, including nine previous works of fiction and several works of non-fiction.Her debut novel Paro: Dreams of Passion, first published in 1984, was a satire on the elite of Bombay and Delhi created a furore due to its frank sexual humour.[12] Gods Graves and Grandmother[13] an ironic fable about street life in Delhi was adapted into a musical play. Gokhale was diagnosed with cancer when she was just thirty-five and her husband died a few years later. The experience of illness and loss informed her later books A Himalayan Love Story,[14] The Book of Shadows and Shakuntala, the Play of Memory.[15]

Her books of non-fiction include Mountain Echoes which explores the Kumaoni way of life through the eyes of four highly talented and individualistic women[16] and The Book of Shiva, an introduction to Shaivite philosophy and mythology. She had retold the Indian epic The Mahabharata, in an illustrated version for young and first time readers in The Puffin Mahabharata.The anthology In Search of Sita – Revisiting Mythology, co-edited with Dr. Malashri Lal, presents fresh interpretations of this enigmatic goddess and her indelible impact on the lives of Indian women through essays, conversations and commentaries. Priya: In Incredible Indyaa,[17] resurrected the iconic characters from her debut novel Paro.

Gokhale edited Travelling In, Travelling Out,[18] a wide-ranging anthology of travel pieces that is a departure from the traditional travel narrative.Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life co-edited with Ruskin Bond, is also a travel anthology and brings together a dazzling range of voices that spans the entire region:from the foothills to the highest peaks of the Himalayas.

With over thirty contributors, the recently published The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-east attempts to describe the sense of shared lives and cultural connectivity between the denizens of this area.

The Himalayan trilogy, which began with The Book of Shadows and includes A Himalayan Love Story, continues with Things to Leave Behind—It is 1856, in picturesque Kumaon. History has already begun its steady march. Six native women clad in black and scarlet pichauras huddle around Naineetal Lake, attempting to cleanse it of threatening new influences. For, these are the days of Upper Mall Road (for Europeans and their horses) and Lower Mall Road (‘for dogs, servants and other Indians’). And this is the story of feisty young Tilottama Dutt, whose uncle hangs when he protests the reigning order—and her daughter, Deoki, who will confront change as Indians and as women. which brings to life the mixed legacy of the British Indian past and chronicles Nainital's reluctant entry into modern India. The novel brings alive the romance of the mixed legacy of British-Indian past. Full of the fascinating backstory of Naineetal and its unwilling entry into Indian history.[19][20][21][22]

In Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions young Chintamani Dev Gupta, on holiday in a bird camp near Lake Sattal, is transported via a wormhole to the days of the Mahabharata. Trapped in time, he meets Ghatotkacha and his mother, the demoness Hidimba. But the gentle giant, a master of illusion and mind-boggling rakshasa technology, wields his strength just as well as he knows the age-old secrets of the forest and the elemental forces. And in his enlightening company, Chintamani finds himself in the thick of the events of the most enduring Indian epic.

Over the years she has also written several columns, articles and reviews for reputed publications such as The Times of India, The Indian Express, Outlook Magazine, among many others. Dominant themes of her writing includes musings on literature, contemporary literary practices, the place of women in Indian society and the world at large as well as myth and its bearings in the modern world.


Publishing is Gokhale's other love. She is the founder-director of Yatra Books(with Neeta Gupta), founded in January 2005.[23] ‘Yatra’ stands for cross-cultural literary journeys, including translation. Yatra Books is a multilingual publishing company specialising in original creative writing and high quality translations in English, Hindi and Indian regional languages for the emergent internal market. It has co-published over 400 titles in Indian languages in collaboration with Penguin India, Dorling Kindersley, Cambridge University Press India Ltd., and since 2012 with Tata-Westland. Yatra Books, in collaboration with Tata-Westland, has launched translations of bestselling authors such as Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Anuja Chauhan, Rashmi Bansal and Jo Nesbo in seven Indian languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Bangla, Telugu, Gujarati and soon in Kannada. It has independently published translations from European languages into English and Hindi, in key collaboration with institutions like Sciences PO in Paris, for the translation of Christophe Jaffrelot's India Since 1950; Ramon Llull Institute, Barcelona for the translation of Catalan short stories into Hindi, and TEDA (Turkish Culture Ministry) for a series of Turkish translations into Hindi. It has also recently collaborated with the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation in Moscow and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi, for a Russian to English translation of Himalayan Folktales, collected by the Russian indologist and traveler Ivan Minayev in 1875, published as Clever Wives and Happy Idiots.

With an extensive experience in trade publishing, Yatra Books believes in empowering the Indian reader and connecting local and international voices. Translating Bharat, Reading India,one of Yatra Books' latest titles, is a collection of essays that focuses on the specifics of translation and is a celebration of the work it has done in the field of Indian language translations in the course of the last decade.[24]

Namita Gokhale is also the Festival Director of 'Jaipur BookMark'(JBM).[25] Conceptualized as a Business-to-Business segment, JBM is held parallel to the Jaipur Literature Festival and focuses on Global Rights Translation. It provides a platform for publishers, literary agents, translation agencies and writers to meet, talk business deals, listen to speakers from across the world and perhaps even sign the occasional contract. About the symposium Gokhale says "The Jaipur BookMark looks afresh at issues, choices and opportunities before the publishing industry today."

The 'Namita Gokhale editions' was a signature imprint published in association with Roli Books which introduced several notable titles.

Literary Festivals[edit]

Namita Gokhale is a founder-director of the 'Jaipur Literature Festival' along with William Dalrymple.[26] The world's largest free festival of its kind, the Jaipur Literature Festival has been described as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’. Celebrating writers from across the world, the Festival has hosted some of the best regarded and loved names ranging from Nobel Laureates and Man Booker Prize winners to star debuts. Gokhale and Dalrymple invite authors from across the globe to take part in the five-day programme set against a backdrop of Rajasthan's stunning cultural heritage and the Diggi Palace in the state capital Jaipur.The Jaipur Literature Festival provides a potentially life-changing opportunity for audiences from Rajasthan, across India and the world to learn from and exchange ideas with contemporary literary stalwarts.The Festival is a flagship event of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals across more than 40 cities globally, and is produced by Sanjoy K. Roy.

Since 2014, JLF has spread its wings beyond the borders of India with weekend events at London's Southbank Centre in May and Boulder, Colorado in September.Showcasing South Asia's unique multilingual heritage, JLF at Southbank is an intense teaser of the festival at Jaipur.The London edition of JLF retains and resonates with the unique spirit of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival, which has firmly established its place in the global literary calendar as the world's largest free literature festival.

Beautiful Boulder is known for its 300 days of sunshine a year and its highly educated, professional population of more than 100,000; for its deep interest and leadership in social, technical, and environmental innovation; for yoga and mindfulness practices, cycling and fitness, and natural health and healing.Free and accessible to everyone, rich with words and ideas, the Festival invites us to join together in examining the human experience through the reflections and imaginations of distinguished contemporary authors from around the world. In an uplifting celebration of the mind and heart, authors from the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe engage in provocative conversations about life and society, economics and the arts, equity, freedom, and the care of our planet.

As of 2017 and 2018, JLF has added Adelaide, Houston and New York City as three additional stop overs in its yearly literary pilgrimage across the world.

Namita Gokhale is also festival adviser to 'Mountain Echoes' a literary festival in Bhutan,[27] an initiative of the India Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi. It brings together writers, biographers, historians, environmentalists, scholars, photographers, poets, musicians, artists, film-makers to engage in cultural dialogue, share stories, create memories and spend three blissful days in the mountains.

She has also founded 'The Crime Writers Festival',[28] along with Kishwar Desai, a literary festival held annually bringing together crime fiction in all its forms.

She has conceptualised the 'International Festival of Indian Literature-Neemrana' 2002, and 'The Africa Asia Literary Conference', 2006 among other literary festivals and presentations.

Gokhale also advises and mentors on the The Himalayan Echo Kumaon Festival for Arts and Literature or the Abbotsford Literary Weekend, held annually in Abbotsford Heritage Homestay, Nainital.

Other Literary Projects[edit]

Namita Gokhale has conceived and curated over hundred episodes of 'Kitaabnama: Books and Beyond', a book-show broadcast on Indian's national broadcaster Doordarshan. The programme has a participatory and inclusive format and showcases the multilingual diversity of Indian literature in an unfolding kaleidoscope of books, authors and readings.[29][30]

She served as member-secretary of Indian Literature Abroad (ILA), an initiative by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, to translate and promote contemporary literature from the Indian languages into the major international languages, particularly the six UNESCO languages (English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Chinese).[31]



Paro: Dreams of Passion, 1984

Gods, Graves, and Grandmother, 1994

A Himalayan Love Story, 1996

The Book of Shadows, 1999

Shakuntala: The Play of Memory, 2005

Priya: In Incredible Indyaa, 2011

The Habit of Love, 2012

Things to Leave Behind, 2016

Lost in Time:Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions, 2017


Mountain Echoes – Reminiscences of Kumaoni Women, 1994

The Book of Shiva, 2000

The Puffin Mahabharata, 2009

In Search of Sita(co-edited with Malashri Lal), 2009

Travelling In, Travelling Out (edited), 2014

Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life(co-edited with Ruskin Bond), 2016

The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-east(edited), 2018

Finding Radha: The Quest for Love, 2018

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Namita Gokhale's New Novel of the Himalayas Reminds us That History Cannot be Separated From Fiction".
  2. ^ "Unsentimental Poetry in Prose".
  3. ^ "The British Raj Caste System and the Beauty of Kumaon Come Alive".
  4. ^ "Namita Gokhale's new book explores love and caste in pre-independence India".
  5. ^ "People started calling me begum Paro: Namita Gokhale on writing 'Paro' - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  6. ^ "Behold readers! Two timeless novels to be launched in a double-bill edition". The Indian Express. 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  7. ^ results, search (2017-10-01). Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions. Gurgaon, Haryana, India: Penguin Random House India. ISBN 9780143334187.
  8. ^ Pole, The Third (2018-11-17). "REVIEW: The Himalayan Arc, Journeys East of South-east - The News Lens International Edition". The News Lens International Edition. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  9. ^ Gokhale, Namita (2018-01-18). The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-east (1st ed.). HarperCollins India. ISBN 9789352776115.
  10. ^ Namita, Gokhale (2018-12-10). Lal, Malashri, ed. Finding Radha: The Quest for Love. S.l.: Penguin. ISBN 9780143441458.
  11. ^ "Super Days - The Big Indian Picture".
  12. ^ Ghoshal, Somak (12 April 2014). "Lounge Loves - Paro".
  13. ^ "Book review: Namita Gokhales Gods, Graves and Grandmother".
  14. ^ "Life In Wee Nooke".
  15. ^ "Nymphet's Nemesis".
  16. ^ "Rescuing The Past".
  17. ^ "This satire takes potshots at the shallow world of the elite".
  18. ^ "Meaningful travels". 2 April 2014 – via The Hindu.
  19. ^ "Book Review Things to Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale".
  20. ^ "Namita Gokhale talks about her novel at Times Lit Fest 2016".
  21. ^ "Book Review Things to Leave Behind".
  22. ^ "Myth and Memory from Kumaon".
  23. ^ "Yatra Books".
  24. ^ "The India that is Bharat".
  25. ^ "About - Jaipur Literature Festival".
  26. ^ "Home - Jaipur Literature Festival".
  27. ^ "Mountain Echoes".
  28. ^ "Home - Crime Writers Festival".
  29. ^ DoordarshanNational (4 October 2013). "Kitaabnama: Books and Beyond - Ep # 1" – via YouTube.
  30. ^ "Bringing books and literature to national television - Times of India".
  31. ^ Sharma, Manik. "Why did India's ambitious global translations project, die prematurely?".

External links[edit]