Pebblemonkey wins the 8th Oxford Book Cover Prize, 2023

Pebblemonkey just won the 8th Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize, and I seriously cannot stop jumping for joy! Huge thanks once again to Oxford Bookstore, the fantastic jury, and to Professor Abhijit Gupta of Jadavpur University Press and our translator Arunava Sinha for making this possible.

Jadavpur University Press, housed on campus and peopled, naturally, with literature graduates and professors, never gives a cover design brief to any of its designers, and expects that they will read the book and interpret it in their own way. For Pebblemonkey, though, they did ask for drawings of a monkey skulking across a mountainscape, and doing other ineffably monkey things, which are now inside the book – on the title page and around the chapter headings.

For this final cover option, I had originally thought of a ‘badly-drawn’ pebble-shaped monkey, with the untidy, messy, scribbled quality of, say, an entry in a personal journal. In this, I was also trying to make a tribute to the author Manindra Gupta’s own sketches in his three-volume memoir Akshay Mulberry, which was a literary cult classic when I was an undergraduate student at Jadavpur University.

The bright pink derives from the apple, because I kept thinking of the shifting objects of desire in terms of the apple – Doenna the doe (also apple-shaped on the back cover), Pebblemonkey himself, the apple that the forestfolk eat, and towards the end, as the object of contention standing in for labour, land, and indigenous rights in the political, economic, and ecological context of the region. It is a strange, and partially baffling book following Pebblemonkey, who springs to life from a pebble, and is equally wise, and full of childlike wonder, mischievous, and prurient, at times.

Please read the book, I think you’ll enjoy puzzling it out, and at the same time help support Jadavpur University Press, which does this with a lot of love and with very limited resources.

#OxfordBookstoreBookCoverPrize #Pebblemonkey #ArunavaSinha #JadavpurUniversityPress #BengaliBooksinTranslation

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Maps and Coordinates

This was my second book cover assignment, as far as I can recall.
For the selected option (above), I used a muted pastel palette, and the dotted outline of a rhombus-esque shape made by joining the Western, Northern, Eastern and Southernmost points of our country, marked with their corresponding latitudes and longitudes. The dotted horizontal line, of course, is the Tropic of Cancer. I thought the dropped pin might make it a little more contemporary.

The cover option below is one of the others that were not chosen. While it had earthier rust tones, I suspect it may have been severely disadvantaged by the occurrence of an actual map.

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Mock brief, volume no. 3

For the cover of this imaginary book, the third volume in an imaginary series of design manuals, I reimagined Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man as the Android thingy. And because I did not know how to make vector drawings back then, I had to create the Android figure out of circles and rectangles added together in strategic combinations.

At the time, after graduating from the very first batch of the book design course at the Seagull School of Publishing, I was floundering to find my own style. This was when Sunandini Banerjee, who had almost single handedly taught the entire course that year, being also the most absolutely fantastic person that she is, handed me a sheaf of mock briefs to help, so I could practice visualising covers. But not just that, she then painstakingly went over the faltering drafts that I put together and sent her, writing back with plenty of encouragement and a brilliant list of tweaks that could totally transform the covers. This is a rare, approved almost as is, fake cover from this period.

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