Diversity and inclusion in the literary landscape:
Publishing outlets for minority groups in Asia
Like all other things, the Indian literary landscape is a product of its times. And as an industry adapting to this age, publishing houses are moving towards a more accessible and inclusive horizon. We’re seeing feminist, LGBTQ+, and Dalit literature assert its expression; translations from rich regional literature finding a clamouring audience; and writing from indigenous communities and people of colour finding a more commercial market and academic market.
The ecosystem is changing – more rightly, it’s evolving to include literature beyond the dominant narrative, and fledgling independent publishing houses are dotting the landscape to cater to this demand.
If you are a writer who identifies with a marginalised community in Asia, here is a list of independent publishing houses and media outfits that will nourish your ideas and give it the home it deserves.
– Saumya K
Panther’s Paw Publications
Started by Yogesh Maitreya in 2016, the independent house is an anti-caste publisher. It is set to publish its seventh title this last year. The press carves a space for including the Dalit narrative and propagating Ambedkarite values.
“Panther’s Paw Publication is not merely a publication; it is a movement.”
The two imprints under Bhatkal and Sen focus on gender (stree) and culture and dissent (samya). It focuses on caste structures — looking at social movements and identity in the creation of Dalit writings.
Themes: Gender studies, culture, and dissent with focus on caste structures
Genre: Academic Non-Fiction, Social Sciences: Cultural Studies, Dalit Studies, Women Studies, and Translation in English from Regional Languages
Social media: Facebook, Instagram
Year established: 1990
Published from: Kolkata, West Bengal
“…examining the roots of injustice from the point of view of an underprivileged.”
How does caste figure from an anti-caste perspective? The independent publishing house is on a quest to demonstrate that through its titles, with Ambdekarite values anchoring its literature.
Themes: Anti-caste literature
Genre: General and academic nonfiction, graphic books, poetry and literary translations
Social Media: Website, Twitter, Instagram
Year established: 2003
Published from: New Delhi
Founder S Anand in The Print: “We are a publishing house that has never been about business as usual, but about embracing the unusual.”
Speaking Tiger is home to over a hundred writers dotted across the South Asian landscape, and gives a platform to “new voices”.
Yoda Press has been expanding its spectrum of literature, dotted with titles about LGTBQ+ communities, life and living in urban culture, Kashmir identity, amongst other voices on the fringe.
Themes: Sexuality, popular culture, alternative voices in history and sociology
Genre: Academic, non-fiction, fiction, poetry, graphic novels
Social Media: Website, Instagram, Facebook
Year established: 2004
Published from: New Delhi
“…striving to mine the niches of alternative writing more deeply.”
Gutter Stars Press
A product of Signal 8 Press, Gutter Stars is a new imprint launching in 2021 that broadly focuses on LGBTQ literature and readership. They’re trying to carve a mainstream interest in queer stories.
Themes: Gender and sexuality
Genre: Fiction, Non-fiction, memoirs, personal stories
Year established: 2020
Published from: Hong Kong
Zubaan’s titles are reflective of their diversity and inclusive literary vision. Besides establishing its credo as a feminist publishing house, it has claimed the Northeast writing landscape, allowing new voices to talk about years of conflict and identity in their works. Zubaan also publishes gender neutral children’s books.
QueerInk broke ground in the previous decade as a one-stop shop — allowing curation, development, and promotion of narratives of and by the LGBTHQIA+ community in India. It works across print, screens, theaters and events. It’s vision for the next five years is to the change perception in popular culture.
Blaft is all things out of the ordinary, in languages beyond the dominant English narrative. Its previous titles are dotted with crime novels, pulp fiction, Nigerian soyayya fiction, folklore, and weird fiction. It picked up the demand for regional literature whilst bringing genre like Tamil pulp fiction to the English-speaking reader.
Themes: Tamil/Urdu/Hausa pulp art, folk tales, regional languages underrepresented in literature, monsters, mathematics
Genres: Fiction, experimental writing, zines/minibooks, graphic novels, translations, comics
Social Media: Website, Instagram, Twitter
Year Established: 2007
Published from: Chennai, India
For the 104 million indigenous people of India, Adivaani positions itself as an archiving and publishing outlet to preserve these under-represented voices. It chronicles the expression, identity, and experiences of adivasis from the Northeast and Santhal communities.
Themes: Cultural and social expression of Adivasi voices
Genres: Fiction, non-fiction
Social Media: Website, Twitter, Facebook
Year established: 2012
Published from: Kolkata, India
Do you know of more publishing enterprises that we have missed? Drop the details in the comments below. This list is in no particular order, and will be updated regularly.
Opportunity for new Dalit writing in English by The Bombay Review
Call for submissions –
Fiction (Min 2,500 words),
Essays (Min 2,000 words),
Poetry (Min 3) and Reviews
Payment – $10 – $15, per contributor
Looking to publish up to 20 writers
Deadline: 15th December, 2020
Email Subject: Submission: Dalit Writing: Your Name
Regular Submission Guidelines: Click Here