A Month of Eating Sky
February is going to be a month of eating sky.
At last, the Australian edition of the anthology Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is available to Australian readers. This book has been a long time coming, or perhaps it just feels that way because of all the blood, sweat and emails that went into producing this ground-breaking cross-cultural collaboration. I co-edited the book along with two Indian editors. In the process, I wrote over 4,000 emails as well as contributing a short story and collaborating on a playscript for the collection.
In December, 2012, my co-editor Anita Roy and I met at Dilli Haat market in Delhi to catch up over a plate of momos. Momos are delicious Tibetan dumplings, for those who haven’t been lucky enough to savour them. I’d like to say the momos inspired us to start a food blog but the tone of our conversation quickly grew serious once the momos were eaten. We began discussing future book projects that we might work on together. Anita Roy is a publisher at Young Zubaan, as well as a writer, and was responsible for publishing the Indian edition of my novel ‘The Lilliputians’.
Anita told me about an Indian writer, Payal Dhar, who wanted to put together an anthology of Indian speculative fiction and I pointed out that as much as I loved India, I’m actually Australian. So we started talking about broadening Payal’s idea to include some of the best of Australia’s speculative fiction writers.
But hanging over us both as we discussed the project, was the shadow of two terrible crimes. Only a couple of days earlier, in Anita’s home town of Delhi, a beautiful young woman had been raped and murdered. In my home city of Melbourne, a beautiful young woman had been raped and murdered a couple of months earlier. In both cases, the cities had risen up in protest against the crimes, but we were all left shaken, wondering what this meant for the futures of young women, wondering why these terrible crimes occurred. And out of these conversations grew the idea for a very different sort of anthology – Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.
Over the course of February, I’m going to blog every day about this book. It contains the work of 20 writers and illustrators, 73 pages of graphic illustrations (6 separate stories) plus 10 short stories and a playscript complete with tentacles so there’s a lot to explain about the whole process of putting it together. It includes the work of authors that most Australians have never heard of, just as when it was released in India in November, very few readers in India were familiar with the work of the Australian authors.
It’s a while since I’ve set myself a blog challenge but there is so much to share about this anthology, from the talent of the 20 contributors to the convoluted process of bringing the book into being in both India and Australia. It won’t be hard to come up with dozens of interesting posts.
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, published by Allen & Unwin, is in stock in good bookshops across Australia. Check it out at Allen & Unwin’s website and brace yourself for a month of sky-eating and ocean-drinking.