Literature for villages

Real Page Three
At first glance, the municipal school building in Topiwala Lane of Grant Road doesn't grab anybody's attention. This dusty building houses the office of Granthali, a readers' movement that is celebrating 35 years of service this year.

The movement was founded by a group of journalists and social activists in 1975 to popularise literature among people in rural areas. "In those days, Marathi books were published only in big cities like Mumbai and Pune. Publishers ignored the rural areas. Granthali was formed in a bid to make books available to people in the rural areas," says Sudesh Hinglaspurkar, one of the trustees.

Granthali borrows books from publishers of Marathi books and conducts exhibitions in rural areas. "So far, we have conducted around 800 such exhibitions and the response has been overwhelming. Educated people in the rural areas of Maharashtra were never exposed to this kind of literary movement and they welcomed our efforts wholeheartedly."

Granthali has now started trying its hand at publishing too. The group's first publication was Doob, a collection of essays by Durga Bhagwat. A collection of essays on atrocities against women, a book on Raj Kapoor films and another titled Robot on military followed.

"Initially, publishers were reluctant to publish books of new authors and they often restricted themselves to established ones. Realising the need to encourage upcoming talents, we decided to publish their books. So far, we have published around 600 such books, mostly on history, children's literature, satirical works and science."

The organisation sells books at subsidised rates. Granthali also organises Granth Yatra (book tour) to various districts with authors in tow for exhibitions and interaction with readers. "Taking a cue from us, other publishers have also started helping upcoming authors to get their works published."

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