Like it or leave it but Dr S L Bhyrappa’s controversial novel, Aavarana, has seen nine editions within five months of its publication in February this year. Now its publishers, Sahitya Bhandara, is gearing up for the 10th edition.
This is said to be for the first time in the history of Kannada literature that a novel has gone into so many reprints within such a short period.
So how many copies of Aavarana has been sold in the last five months? The publisher would not tell. Mr Arun of Bhandara, which has been publishing Dr Bhyrappa’s novels since 1960, said, “That information is shared with only the author. Also, I can't say how many copies have been printed for each edition. It depends on demand and varies from 1,000 to 10,000 copies. More than 60,000 people have read the novel.”
According to Mr Arun, Aavarana has been well received by Kannadigas residing in the United States.
"Hundreds of copies have been sold in the US," he said. Asked about the royalty paid to the author, he said, “Since the days of my father we have an understanding with Mr Bhyrappa. We pay according to it”.
Sahitya Bhandara was established by late M Govindarao in 1934 in Hubli. His sons Arun and Raja are running it now.
Asked whether the furore kicked up by comments of Dr U R Ananthamurthy and others on the novel had not pushed up the sales, Mr Raja replied in the negative.
"What is being discussed is not literary merit. Moreover those who comment on the book should be well-versed in Indian history. But most of those who react to the work do not know history. The so-called controversy hasn’t done anything for the sales".
However, many say the controversy has improved its sales. Sapna Book House, a major book seller in the State, alone has sold more than 3,000 copies.
Further, Sapna has ordered 1,000 copies in the last two weeks alone. Navakarnataka Publications, which has a State-wide network, sold more than 5,000 copies of the book.
Ankitha Book House sold 2,000 copies. Mr Prakash Kambattalli of Ankitha attributes the increased sales to the “continuing controversy. Interestingly, demand for Bhyrappa's other novels such as Dharmashree, Parva, Sartha and Gruhabhanga has also increased thanks to the controversy."
Says Mr Arun, “Even today there is demand for Vamshavriksha, Dharmashree, Doorasaridaru.All these works have gone for nine editions. Mandra also received good response from readers Dharmashree stands second only to Aavarana among Bhyrappa's novels in terms of sales”.
When contacted, Mr Bhyrappa told this reporter he was least bothered about the sales. “I don’t enquire about it,” he said.