‘Despite the State’ is back!

It’s time for another update on Despite the State. Six months after Amazon shuttered Westland (its subsidiary and my publisher), it is now returning to bookshops — new copies began reaching bookshops last weeks.

I am still with Westland — the team moved to Pratilipi, India’s biggest self-publishing platform (2 crore readers). I am curious about what lies ahead. Most of Pratilipi’s readers read on their smartphones. And so, in addition to publishing Despite the State as paperback and ebook, Pratilipi will also serialise it for english readers (for a start). This is something new — it takes me back to how Sherlock Holmes gained popularity, through stories published as instalments in periodicals — and leaves me wondering how the book will fare.

The book is much the same as before. Over the last year, it has received a lot of kind feedback and so, being opportunistic through and through, I have expanded endorsements in the second edition — we have now included Ben Rogaly, who taught me at the University of Sussex; Dan Taylor, whose deeply perceptive book on pre-Brexit Britain was cited in Despite the State; Indrajit Gupta, who taught me my journalism; veteran development reporter Latha Jishnu; former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan; and Suchitra Vijayan, who runs the fearless Polis Project. The book has also been reviewed by MoneyControl, Tribune, Malayala Manorama, QindeelOnline, Business Standard, Seminar, Open, The Hindu, Scroll.in, Biblio and Le Monde. Apart from these, the book also made it to top book lists (for 2021) in The Hindu, Himal Southasian and The Wire. We have bunged bits from most of these into the book’s opening pages as well.

And so it goes. One minor hiccup has passed. The book will now resume its journey through the world. It has been a memorable set of months. And so, some photographs.

In this period, a clutch of other memorable moments. The announcement. Its first page on Amazon, its appearance on goodreads, the first discussion on the book, the book’s launch (online, coz covid), reader feedback (here, here, here, here), more online discussions (like this lovely one in Goa, hosted again by indie bookstore DogEars; and this one by Polis Project), an interview on the book, and then another interview, more book signings, my first physical event, at Gangtok’s superb Rachna Book where I ended up getting to know both Raman Shrestha and Pema Wangchuk (I don’t say ‘superb’ lightly. I ended up buying about 20 books at Rachna + hurriedly relocated to his excellent airbnb on the top floor + had a long, lovely chat late into the night with him and another friend in the bookstore after closing hours).
And then, Amazon’s decision to shutter Westland. Which, among other things, resulted in my panic-buying a lot of Westland titles. My publisher Karthika, and her team, however, are capable people. They found Pratilipi. And so, here we are again — back in the shops, with a new edition and a new Amazon page.
The book will now resume its journey though the world. And I, I get back to good ol’ journalism. :-)

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