Goethe-Institut honours Naveen Kishore of Seagull Books with Goethe Medal

12 June 2013

Naveen Kishore, founder and managing director of Seagull Books, has been awarded Goethe Medal 2013 along with Iranian translator and author S Mahmoud Hosseini Zad and Greek writer Petros Markaris. He is the sixteenth Indian to win this award since 1955.


When contacted, a humbled Kishore said, “What can I say other than the fact that it is always wonderful to be acknowledged for the work one does.”

The Goethe-Institut annually awards the official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany to honour figures who have performed outstanding service for the German language and international cultural relations. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of the Goethe-Institut, will award the official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Residential Palace in Weimar on 28 August; the laudatory speeches will be held by journalist and author Wolfgang Günter Lerch, editor and publisher Elisabeth Ruge and journalist Christiane Schlötzer.

The statement issued by the organisers of the Goethe Awards 2013 stated, “Kishore is led not by the market, but by personal convictions and passions. By launching the German List book series, he has greatly enhanced the position of German-language literature in the English language not only in India but worldwide. Naveen Kishore publishes an ambitious series of books of German literature in outstanding English translations called The German List, cooperation with the Goethe-Institut.

Seagull Books is the first to publish German authors such as Brigitte Reimann and Ralf Rothmann in English, in carefully edited and aesthetically designed editions. Over the past seven years Seagull has acquired the rights to over 60 books from German publishers. By founding the Seagull School of Publishing in Kolkata in 2011, he has provided major stimuli to professionalise publishing all over India. According to the statement by the conferment commission, Naveen Kishore represents, in an outstanding way and at the highest level, dialogue and cultural cooperation between India and Germany.”

Naveen Kishore was born in 1953. His relationship with Germany began through books in his youth when he read British and American editions of German-language classics. He studied English literature and initially worked as a lighting designer in Kolkata. In 1982 he founded the publishing house Seagull Books focusing on art, theatre and film, followed by books on politics, culture studies and philosophy. Today, it also publishes literature, including poetry and serious fiction, and owns the worldwide English-language publishing rights for books by Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Bernhard, Imre Kertész, Yves Bonnefoy, Mo Yan, Mahasweta Devi, Peter Handke and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, among many others.

Seagull Books received its first award in 1983 from the Indian government for a paperback edition of five plays by Franz Xaver Kroetz, and has received several awards since for its excellence in production. With untiring energy, Kishore has continued to work on the promotion of the arts in general and the culture of books in particular. He opened the Seagull Bookshop in 1997 and registered offices of Seagull Books in the United Kingdom and the USA in 2005.

In 1987, he founded the Seagull Foundation for the Arts, which has run various successful programmes, including a gallery to showcase contemporary art and photography; the PeaceWorks initiative, which works with youth through the arts; and the Seagull School of Publishing, which offers professional training for book editors and designers.

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