May 17, 2011

Hot Lips Davidar is back, but in a different country


David Davidar with his new parnter, Kapish G Mehra, of Indian publisher Rupa

You may remember the enormous brouhaha that broke out this time last year, when Penguin International publisher David Davidar, just months after being promoted from being head of Penguin Canada, announced he was quitting to write a novel. It was a lie, and it didn’t take long before the truth was revealed:  there were at least two well-evidenced accusations of sexual harassment had been filed against him.

Davidar fled to India, where a flood of press at the time — despite the evidence and quoting, often enough, lots of Indian industry sources and writers who had gotten their first break from Davidar — that vilified the women making the charges and perversely turned Davidar into a hero.

And so it continues — Davidar has announced he’s starting a new publishing house of his own, Aleph, in partnership with major Indian publisher Rupa.

The story has gotten major attention in India. But try as you might, in report after report after report — such as this one, headlined “David Davidar returns with a bang” — from leading Indian news sources, you’ll find plenty about what a publishing genius Davidar is, but you won’t find any mention of the words “sexual harassment.”

And you won’t find anyone who’s commented on that, either.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.