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.

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