24 February 2009
Mumbai: The controversial book, "Amen - Autobiography of a Nun", by a Kerala Catholic nun in which she alleges that sexual abuse and homosexuality are prevalent in the Catholic Church in the southern state, will soon be published in English, Hindi and Marathi.
The book, which has taken the Catholic Church by storm, could hit bookshelves across the country before the Lent period begins on March 10, book's author Sister Jesme told said over phone from Calicut.
"An agreement was signed yesterday (Monday) evening with Penguin Books, giving them the full domestic rights for the book. They hope to bring it out within the next 10-15 days or so," she said.
Sr. Jesme said the English version is ready. "In fact, I had written the book first in English, but there were no takers," she revealed.
When a Malayalam publisher got ready to publish it, she translated it into Malayalam and it was published a few months ago, raising Church eyebrows around the world as the word spread.
Though she said there has been no official reaction from the Vatican so far, church authorities in Kerala have been in touch with her seeking clarifications about her motives behind penning the book.
"I have maintained right from the beginning that I am not against the church, all that I am seeking is a 'renewal in the church'. I am dedicated to Lord Jesus and he is my guiding spirit all these years," said the 52-year-old Sr. Jesme.
Asked about the Hindi and Marathi versions, she said that Penguin will arrange to get the translated versions and these will hit the markets after the English book - to be titled "Amen - The Story of a Nun" - is out.
"We agreed on Hindi and Marathi since these are Penguin's speciality areas apart from English," Sr. Jesme explained.
Born in Trichur as Meamy Raphael, Sr. Jesme joined a convent and became a nun at a young age.
In the book, she speaks about shocking instances of carnal pursuits by members of the church. She has even highlighted how she became a victim to such incidents, setting off a furore.
Sr. Jesme said that reactions to the book - there were even some death threats - have amazed her.
"However, as a believer, I feel Lord Jesus is behind all this. I am merely an instrument. He wants a renewal in the church," she asserted, explaining that her name itself is a combination of herself and Lord Jesus - 'Jes' and 'Me."
The middle among seven children, Sr. Jesme is no stranger to the world of publishing. Prior to the latest book, she has penned three collections of poems - "A Cascade", "Rhapsody" and "At The Foot Of The Cross" - and a critique on criticism "Narrative Aesthetics - A Case Study".
While the 180-page Malayalam book "Amen - Autobiography of a Nun" had several pictures, she is not sure if Penguin would include photographs in the English, Hindi and Marathi editions which are expected to be over 200 pages each.