A Honey Hunter in India

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The Book Office of the Embassy of France in India / Institut français en Inde in collaboration of Alliances Françaises is pleased to invite Karthika Naïr and Joëlle Jolivet to tour in India from 3rd February to 18th February 2014 on the occasion of the release of their latest book The Honey Hunter.

Joëlle Jolivet - Karthika Naïr

Joëlle Jolivet - Karthika Naïr

A unique collaboration between one of India’s finest poets and one of France’s most beloved illustrators:  The Honey Hunter, part fable, part adventure, is a rich visual and poetic journey, which takes you into the heart of the subcontinent. Adapted from a section of Akram Khan’s award-winning dance-drama DESH, it is a compelling fantasy tale, set deep in the heart of the Sundarbans where millions of bees thrive in the midst of fertile mangroves of Bengal, producing rich, golden honey on which the animal kingdom feeds. The main character of this meticulously weaved narrative is Shonu, the young son of a honey collector, living in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. Driven to distraction by hunger, Shonu compromises on his scruples and slips away deep into the mangroves to lay his hands on honey before its time is due. What he encounters there is much more than he bargained for!  He comes face to face with an infuriated demon-tiger. However, Bonbibi, the presiding goddess of the forests keeps an eye on this lad and guards him against misfortune. This cautionary tale, infused with Bengali beliefs, myths and culture, communicates an oblique message to the readers and a lesson to the public at large, on the importance of ecological balance and the need to respect it.

The Honey Hunter

The Honey Hunter

This tale was conceptualized from one of the stories that Karthika Naïr, a France based poet, wrote for DESH. She co-scripted this piece along with a British-Bangladeshi choreographer named Akram Khan and their presentation won them the 2012 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. Naïr works as a producer in performing arts and is particularly involved in dance, which has been portrayed in most of her poetry. Her poetic creations have been translated into French and Italian.

Naïr works for dance companies and offered the renowned French artiste Joëlle Jolivet the task of illustrating her book. Jolivet, who is an artiste par excellence, had studied graphic art and advertising at the School of Applied Arts in Paris. She subsequently became interested in lithography and took several courses in Fine Arts, which prompted her to specialize in linoleum engravings, her main form of illustrative expression today. Needless to say that Jolivet was fascinated and showed keenness to work with Nair. She took on her project with enthusiasm. Her illustrations were created by hand brush, using merely seven colours, but they were applied in a harmonius mélange of blazing neon pink, splashed with golden ochre along with deep and dull hues of blue, using India ink as the medium.

In 2009-10, Nair along with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui co-founded the company, Eastman.  She is currently associate programmer at the Equilibrio Festival in Rome and executive producer for Eastman. Karthika states that although she is a great advocate of silence and does not like to be slotted, neither in the category of poetry nor in dance, she still feels that ‘words mean movement and movement is what she constantly seeks.’  According to her, scripting for dance are simply the raw material for each partner or associate to transform it into his or her medium.

Le Tigre de Miel, the French version of this children’s story book has been creatively translated by Dominique Vitalyos and published by Hélium. It includes creations superbly illustrated by Jolivet that have been shown through beautiful drawings of tigers, honey bees, mangroves, etc., encompassing it into a delightful narrative. The original English editions are being published by Young Zubaan in India.


Le Tigre de Miel – Joëlle Jolivet & Karthika Naïr from Hélium éditions on Vimeo.

This animated trailer has been created by Luce Côte-Colisson and Lucie Rouxel with music by Georges Le Gonidec



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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...