Five books, featuring the works of the winners and runners-up of the Unisun–Reliance TimeOut competition, were launched with fanfare

“Orson Scott once said ‘everybody walks past a thousand story ideas everyday’, these writers didn’t just walk past, they found stories everywhere, in ordinary everyday happenings,” said Director of Unison, Annie Chandy Mathew of the winners and runners-up of the Unisun-Reliance Time Out competition.

Their works have been published in five different books: City of Gods, The Story Lady and Blanket of Stars, The Visitor and Junk Attack and Ellie the Elephant and a collection of poetry Songbooks Circa 2011, which were launched at Mount Carmel College last week.

City of Gods, a collection of 22 different stories by 20 writers, was launched by Veena Seshadri, P. K. H. Tharakan and B.K. Bhattacharya.

The collection — the title of which was taken from Anitha Murthy’s work by the same name — is full of wonderfully-written stories that deal with a variety of themes, including a mother trying to protect her child from the heartbreak of a broken home and a child’s anger at the unfairness of life to a man resentful of having to perform what he considers meaningless rituals to a son expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, among many others.

Annie described the winners as “gifted writers who have crafted haunting figures, memorable incidents and have written with a passionate conviction, undeniable sincerity and conscious artistry.”

Teresa Bhattacharya, K. R. Usha and Jahnavi Barua launched The Story Lady and Blanket of Stars, The Visitor and Junk Attack and Ellie the Elephant, featuring the prize-winning children’s stories.

In The Visitor Rajan Sambandam combines science fiction, 20 century reality and myth to create an adventure story that will appeal to young and old alike. In Kavitha Punniyamurthi’s Junk Attack, young Anand sits down to work on his school project on obesity in children. But as he lists the junk food that should be avoided, temptation strikes and he orders a pizza. Little does he or the reader anticipate the disastrous consequences that follow.

In The Story Lady said Annie, written by the first-prize winner Shruthi Rao, “little Meenu sets out on a mission to save this arid world by bringing back stories that fill our lives with colour and delight”. Rao, as Annie observed, “explores the profound world of creativity and imagination in an atmosphere that is characteristic of a fairytale.”

Blanket of Stars, by Rachna Chhabria, features Ganesha in an entirely new adventure. One day the moon and the sun disappear from the sky, panic-stricken, the Gods call a counsel meeting. No suggestions or solutions, however, seem practical, until Goddess Parvathy steps forward and suggests a plan that is brilliant in its simplicity. Rashmi Venkatesh’s illustrations reflect the scenes perfectly.

Ellie The Elephant by Malini Kanal is about Ellie the elephant who loves to count. The sights and sounds of the forest described by the author have been brought alive by Rachna Prabhu’s illustrations.

The event was followed by an endearing performance of an extract from Ellie The Elephant by the children of Parikrama Humanity Foundation.

The event was further enhanced by a reading of excerpts from fiction and poetry by theatre personality Jyoti Makhija and Kannaki Deka, a lecturer at Mount Carmel College.

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