By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Submission Deadline: July 22India’s small, young independent house SIM Publishing has a call out for its James Hemingway Short Fiction Award—named for James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway—and, in the process, has put forward an assertion that the country’s market is losing its taste for short fiction.
Publisher Hersh Bhardwaj tells Publishing Perspectives that he hopes the project can help bolster the market’s waning interest in the form. “The situation for short fiction in the English language has been worsening for many reasons” in the vast Indian market, Bhardwaj tells us.
“There have been hardly any literary magazines of repute with strong literary voices,” he says, “such as Premchand, at the helm of affairs. “Secondly, publishers have always found it tougher to sell short story collections. Distributors want big fat novels to sell.
“What’s more, my opinion is that it’s trickier to put together a short story collection loyal to a singular theme. So, there are quality and editorial issues as well. Consequently, [many publishers have] scaled down the publishing of short fiction to none or ‘renowned authors’ only.”
Accordingly, Bhardwaj says, “This award has primarily been set up to inspire authors to write short fiction. The award is named after two of the best short fiction writers of this century—James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway.” Bhardwaj says that Joyce and Hemingway were short story masters who “also brought global themes into their backyards and vice-versa.”
Interestingly, Bhardwaj says, short-form work has flourished outside of English in India. The publisher calls it “a primary tour-de-force for Hindi and Urdu literature in India for last many decades. Serialized novels and short stories in literary magazines have swamped the Hindi literary scene. Premchand, the most renowned of Hindi writers, started his own literary magazine to publish new and aspiring writers of the age.”
Bhardwaj has created an imprint named James Hemingway, announced in January during the New Delhi World Book Fair. Its first title is Sorry Not for Sale by Urmila Bhargava.
And his SIM Publishing program has laid out several goals for the competition:
- “Motivate people to write short fiction;
- “Create a community of writers to help and develop together;
- “Increase readership by publishing selected stories in book form and marketing these collections widely. We’ll be devoting at least 25 percent of [our] publishing list to short fiction; and
- “Translate Hindi short fiction (and other languages from next year), to take these stories beyond India.”
While full details and criteria are listed here, points of the kind experienced authors know to look for include:
- Applicants will maintain their copyrights to submitted work.
- Any publication of selected work will be done with formal contracts.
- No fee is charged for submissions that meet the deadline of midnight (Delhi time) on July 22.
- A cash award in an as-yet unnamed amount goes to the winner, along with a contract for publication in a 21-story anthology.
Bhardwaj tells Publishing Perspectives that he founded SIM Publishing after first establishing a literary agency and finding out that, “There are far too many good writers who can’t make it to the top five publishers here” in India.
The company is in its second year, with one book out and four more scheduled for release later this year. Bhardwaj adds that he’s looking to acquire European-language texts to translate and publish in India. A translation of Serbian author Vladislav Bajac is in the works, he says.
Complete competition details are here.