We are pleased to announce that Naveen Kishore, publisher and founder of Seagull Books in Kolkata, will receive the 2021 Words Without Borders Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.
“In his tireless work over four decades as founder of Seagull Books and the Seagull School of Publishing, Naveen Kishore shows us what it means to be a true champion for international literature in translation,” said Words Without Borders Board Chair Samantha Schnee. “We are thrilled to recognize him with the 2021 Ottaway Award.”
Naveen Kishore, a theater practitioner, founded Seagull Books in 1982, beginning with the New Indian Playwrights series, which translated the work of regional Indian dramatists into English. Under Kishore’s direction, Seagull has since published English translations of more than 500 books by major African, European, Asian, and Latin American writers, including works by Nobel Prize winners Mo Yan, Herta Müller, and Jean-Paul Sartre, and Man Booker International Prize winner László Krasznahorkai.
Seagull publishes special series dedicated to a wide range of themes and geographic regions, including an Africa List with writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Maryse Condé, Ivan Vladislavić, and Abdourrahman A. Waberi and an India List featuring Mahasweta Devi, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, and Bhuwaneshwar. This year, Seagull launched Quilombola!, which showcases inventive sub-Saharan African and French-speaking Afropean writers under the direction of acclaimed Cameroonian writer Léonora Miano.
In 2005, Kishore launched Seagull Books London to reach a wider international readership. Six years later, in 2011, he expanded the organization further, establishing the Seagull School of Publishing with the aim of training the next generation of publishers, editors, and book designers in India. For his contribution to publishing, Kishore has been made a Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2014) by the government of France and received the Goethe Medal from the Federal Republic of Germany (2013).
The Ottaway Award will be presented to Kishore by Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, at a private hybrid ceremony in New York City on September 30. A recording of the ceremony will be available on WWB’s website following the event.
Named in honor of the first chair of Words Without Borders, Jim Ottaway, Jr., the Ottaway Award recognizes an individual whose work and activism have supported WWB’s mission of promoting cultural understanding through the publication and promotion of international literature. Past awardees include Sara Bershtel, Barbara Epler, Edith Grossman, the late Carol Brown Janeway, Chad Post, Jill Schoolman, and Drenka Willen.