The countdown has begun. The Kolkata Book Fair which is said to be Asia’s largest book fair and witnesses the highest footfall returns with its 39th edition scheduled from January 29 till February 8 at Milan Mela in Kolkata as announced at a press conference held in the nation capital.
Commemorating the 450th birth anniversary of William Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas’s birth centenary, separate pavilions are being made that will feature the works of the two legendary authors. The fair will also mark works of W B Yeats, Bengali author Suniti Chatterji and actor-director Sombhu Mitra in three different pavillions.
With UK returning as focal theme country after a gap of 16 years, it be showcasing the best of its offer in arts and culture, education, and research through the UK government’s Knowledge is Great campaign, which includes information on the huge range of scholarships available for studying in the UK.
While addressing the gathering at the conference, Rob Lynes, Director British Council India, said, “We are delighted that UK is the focal theme at this year’s Kolkata Book Fair. The British Council’s wants to showcase what the United Kingdom has to offer India and the rest of the world. A large number of UK publishers will also be present at the Kolkata Book Fair. It is estimated that nearly 80 per cent of books in the higher education category is shipped out from the UK.” Tridib Chatterjee, General Secretary of The Publishers & Booksellers Guild present at the conference said, “A special theme gate, a replica of the British Natural History Museum and another gate to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Charlie Chaplin has been set up to greet visitors”.
26 publishers from Bangladesh as well as those from the US, France, Germany, China, Japan, Columbia, Spain, Elsalvador, Ecuador, the Latin American countries among others are lined up to set up stalls at the Kolkata Book Fair. Some well-known writers like - British author of Bangladeshi origin Zia Haider Rahman whose debut novel In The Light of What We Know (2014), Anita Anand author of the book Sophia, a biography of Sophia Duleep Singh will be present at the fair. Other UK authors at the fair will be Shereen El Feki (author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World), Naomi Alderman (named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2013), QaisraShahraz (author of The Holy Woman), novelist Will Buckingham, Scottish poet Bill Herbertand Ned Thomas, whose memoir Bydoedd / Worlds (Wales Book of the Year 2011) will be launched in Bengali translation at the fair.
The fair will also hold the second edition of the Kolkata Literature Festival from February 6-8. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen will inaugurate the festival. The book fair will begin on a musical note with Ghazalaw, which celebrates the affinity between Indian Ghazal and the Welsh folk tradition. Mumbai singer Tauseef Akhtar and Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn weave the love poetry of their two ancient traditions together to the accompaniment of harp, tabla, guitar and harmonium.
The 38th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair was visited by 1.8 million booklovers over 12 days and books worth Rs 200 million were sold.
“Last year the turnover of the 12 KBF was Rs 20 crore with English books alone selling for Rs 8 crore. We compiled the information provided to us by various participating publishers,” Chatterjee said.