Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the 47th International Kolkata Book Fair on January 18, amidst a drizzle that posed challenges for last-minute preparations for several stall owners. Despite the weather, the event kicked off at the Boi Mela Prangan in Central Park, Salt Lake, marking an early start compared to the previous edition when the gates opened on January 30.
The Theme Country and Duration of the Fair
The United Kingdom (UK) holds the spotlight as the theme country for this year’s book fair, which is scheduled to continue till January 31. Mamata Banerjee, expressing her longstanding association with the fair, reminisced, “I’ve been visiting the book fair for a long time. In 1995, my book — Upolobdhhi (Realisation) was published.”
Growth and Evolution: From Cramped Stalls to a Permanent Address
The fair has witnessed a remarkable evolution, from its early days held in cramped spaces to establishing a permanent address at Boi Mela Prangan in Central Park. This year’s edition boasts around 1,000 stalls, the largest so far, featuring representations from nearly 20 countries, including the US, Spain, Italy, Bangladesh, Australia, Argentina, and France.
Diverse Global Participation and a 12-Year Return
Noteworthy is the return of German publishers after a hiatus of 12 years, as confirmed by officials of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, the organizers of the fair. The global presence emphasizes the fair’s international stature, with participation from diverse corners of the literary world.
Kolkata Literature Festival: A Literary Extravaganza
Running from January 26 to 28, the Kolkata Literature Festival is set to enrich the fair with discussions, readings, and interactions with prominent literary figures. The festival adds a dynamic layer to the overall cultural experience, providing attendees with opportunities to engage with thought-provoking discussions.
International Recognition and High Expectations
Addressing the gathering, Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner, remarked, “This is not the 47th Kolkata book fair but the international Kolkata book fair and the second biggest in the world. This is bigger than the London book fair.” The event’s international acclaim is further highlighted by the diverse array of participants and global themes.
Impressive Figures: Visitor Turnout and Sales
Officials from the Publishers and Booksellers Guild shared optimistic projections for this year’s fair, citing the success of previous editions. The last edition witnessed approximately 26 lakh visitors and sales worth Rs 25 crore. With an increasing trend, the organizers anticipate even higher figures for both attendance and sales this year.
A Plea for Literary Infrastructure
Concluding the inauguration, guild president Tridib Kumar Chatterjee urged the Chief Minister, “On behalf of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, we want a piece of land from you to set up a library, an archive of books, and a guesthouse for national and international visitors.” The appeal highlights the growing need for dedicated literary spaces to foster the continued growth and development of the literary community in Kolkata.
Important Questions Related to Exams
1. Who inaugurated the 47th International Kolkata Book Fair?
2. Which city hosts the second-largest book fair in the world?
3. Which country is the theme country for this year’s book fair?
Kindly share your responses in the comment section.