Kolkata: Most of those staying outside Kolkata miss the maddening beats of the dhak during Durga Puja and the smell of the new books at Boi Mela. If you are a bibliophile who stays outside Kolkata, then sit back and enjoy. This time, you can enjoy a virtual tour of the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair. Wait, there’s more. You will be able to buy your favourite books online too. Yes, you read that right.
On Tuesday, Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of the Publishers & Booksellers Guild announced at a press conference in Kolkata that the Kolkata Book Fair 2022 will be streamed live on the website and social media.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled many book fairs across the world to either go online or cancel. But we decided to wait till the coronavirus cases subside. This is for the first time in the history of International Kolkata Book Fair that we are going digital. In fact, we are adopting the hybrid model. We cannot do away with the physical exhibition and we wanted to reach out to those bookworms who stay outside Bengal and India. Ardent booklovers can watch different programmes online and also order books through the website https://kolkatabookfair.net/about,” said Chatterjee.
The organizers have also planned a few pleasant surprises for the booklovers and writers, who have started descending on the city. Two big halls of the book fair at Central Park Mela Complex, Salt Lake, having mainly English publications, are named after Netaji and Sri Aurobindo. The little magazine pavilions will be named after poet-editor Sambhu Rakshit and poet Prabhat Chowdhury.
In the last two years, a number of journalists have lost their lives in Bengal. A press corner has been named after journalists Sounak Lahiri, Anjan Bandyopadhyay and Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey too. The organizers also paid tribute to the legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee by naming the mukta mancha (open-air stage) after him.
The other major attraction of the Kolkata Book Fair 2022 is ‘Shraddhargho’, a stall set up to pay homage to 33 notable literary figures including Narayan Debnath and Sankha Ghosh.
By now, we know Bangladesh is the theme country and among the nine entry gates, three gates will be the replica of three books penned by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Among the other gates, there will be Biswa Bangla gate, Satyajit Ray gate and Abanindranath gate.
Given that this is the birth centenary of the legendary filmmaker, discussions on Ray and his films will be a prime highlight at the book fair and also at the eighth edition of the Kolkata Literature Festival, to be held at the book fair grounds on March 11 and 12.
This year will see nearly 600 stalls, and 200 little magazines with 20 countries participating in the fair. While Bangladesh will have 50 publishers, Iran is making its debut at the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair. This year’s Boi Mela runs from February 28 to March 13, to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee the in presence of KM Khalid MP, state minister for cultural affairs, Bangladesh, eminent author Sanjib Chattopadhyay, and popular Bangladeshi author Selina Hossain.