Kolkata Book Fair to be livestreamed for the first time till February 12

With Spain being the ‘theme country’ this year at the Kolkata Book Fair, which begins on Tuesday, a number of Spanish writers, publishers and filmmakers are expected at live events

Kolkata Book Fair to be livestreamed for the first time till February 12

Amarabati Bhattacharyya

The 46th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair, said to be the world’s second largest after Frankfurt, begins on Tuesday, January 31 and will for the first time be live-streamed. “Those who are unable to make it to the fair can get a virtual feel” by visiting the official website 'kolkatabookfair.net'.

Publishers & Booksellers Guild explained that with growing interest in the Bengali diaspora across the world and in Bangladesh, livestreaming the events, interviews and book discussions will now be available to a global audience. This edition will also be the ‘biggest ever’, said general secretary of the Guild, Tridib Chatterjee, with more than 950 book stalls, a new record.

“Publishers and authors from across the world, including the US, the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, will be putting up stalls and Thailand will be making its debut,” Chatterjee informed.

Spain will be the ‘theme’ country this year, with 25 eminent Spanish authors likely to grace the festival. They include Eva Baltasar, David Trueba, Agustín Fernández Mayo, Luis García

Montero, Jordi Gracia, Jesús Aguado, and Anna Caballé. Spanish Director Paula Ortiz will also be there to present the film La Novia (The Bride), based on the play Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding) by Federico García Lorca.

The organisers are hopeful that this edition of the book fair at Salt Lake will break previous records in footfall and sales. “Last year we had 23 lakh visitors, and books worth Rs 23 crore were sold. We are expecting the figures to be higher this year,” said Chatterjee.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the fair on Monday afternoon, alongside Spanish dignitaries such as Jose Maria Ridao Dominguez, Spain's ambassador to India; MarJose Galvez Salvador, Director General for Books of Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain; and Luis Garcia Montero, Director of Instituto Cervantes.

The CM said that all Indian states and districts are represented at the Kolkata Book Fair and also proposed a 'Bangla Book Fair' to be held New Delhi, during the inauguration which was also live-streamed on the website.

A replica of the famous Toledo Gate of Madrid along with models of other landmark Spanish buildings and structures will be erected at various entry points of the fair. As part of the events, there will be dialogues and round table talks between Spanish and Indian authors, as well as between publishers from both countries.

Additional transportation facilities have been arranged specially for the book fair this year by the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC). The venue, Boi Mela Prangan at Karunamoyee, will have direct metro services from Sealdah for the first time. Moreover, 14 extra trains will run on the days of the fair from January 31 to February 12.

Out of the 950 stalls, 700 will be devoted to books and the rest will be dedicated to Bengal’s famous “little magazine” genre. These stalls will be named after author and editor Ramapada Choudhury to commemorate his birth centenary. For the first time, rare ‘punthis’ i.e., old handwritten manuscripts of Bengal will be exhibited in a pavilion in collaboration with the Asiatic Society.

A special pavilion, dedicated to 100 years of Abol Tabol, the iconic book of nonsense rhymes is being set up as a homage to Bengali poet and writer Sukumar Roy– with comic illustrations of his iconic characters ‘Hansjaru’ and ‘Kumropatash’ adorning the walls.

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