‘Digital companion’ for novel

Aundhati Roy. File picture   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

Arundhati Roy’s new novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which was published recently to critical acclaim, now has a ‘digital companion’, the ‘Re: Reader’.

Created and designed by visual communication specialist Lisa Rath and her team at Itu Chaudhuri Design (ICD), the Re: Reader is mounted on a separate website,

The Re: Reader platform was launched in Delhi on Wednesday evening at a gathering marked by book readings and a conversation on ‘literature and the digital experience’ between Ms. Rath and artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta.

Ms. Roy, who attended the launch and read from the book, described the Re: Reader as “a new, fun way of introducing a book to people who haven’t read it, and another way of enjoying it.”

Ms. Rath said that it was an attempt to offer a unique experience of the book, to those who haven’t read the novel as well as to those who have.

“Navigating through the Re:Reader may act as a catalyst to read the book, and for those who have read it, it would add an experiential layer to it,” she said.

The Re:Reader can be accessed on a smart phone by logging on to its website. The visitor is greeted by a ‘floating menu’ of different chapters, each with its own set of animated icons, sound effects, music, and a carefully chosen excerpt.

“Re:Reader has snippets of text from the 12 chapters of the book. Animations show the text in a new light; music brings the period to life, and with portions read by Arundhati Roy, it makes for a dreamy, heady ride. But none of these bits of ‘media’ are presented as ‘content’ for independent consumption. They are there to tempt, to intrigue, to transport the viewer to the Utmost world, not to reveal or substantially replace it,” said a note shared by ICD studio.

6-minute film

The Re: Reader platform also features a six-minute film on the different landscapes of the novel, directed by Sanjay Kak and Tarun Bhartiya of Octave Communications.

“This is primarily an experiment about the reading experience,” Ms. Rath told The Hindu. “Unlike with a hard copy, in the Re-Reader, you jump from chapter to chapter in no particular order, and you can see what that does for you, what kind of pictures it builds in your mind.”

On whether the Re: Reader is a publicity tool to promote the book, Ms. Rath said, “It is something that traverses the realms of art, design and business, and it’s great to be able to create something that manages to do this. To the extent that it catalyses those who haven’t read the book into buying a copy, yes, it would generate additional sales for the publisher.”

Ms. Rath added that the Re: Reader experience may also be developed into an app. “It is something that can also be replicated for other titles, though the design would take a different form, as per the spirit and content of the book concerned,” Ms. Rath said.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 8:35:30 AM |

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