In the world of written word, art combined with the aesthetics of literature and tales of folklore enchanted buyers at the international stalls during the recently concluded, New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan.
While most eyed the distinctly laid stall of this year’s theme country France, an inviting look of the other international stalls in the vicinity attracted Metrolife. From Iran to Nepal and Pakistan to China, the small enclosure in Hall No 7, comprised literature from around the world!
Among these, the poetry books at Iran’s stall were as beautiful as the country’s culture. “We are here to showcase the culture of Iran,” shared Shahrooz Shariati, cultural advisor of Iran Cultural Fairs Institute. He claimed that books worth Rs 15000 had been sold each day on an average but also acknowledged that only one fifth of the visitors ended up buying!
“Our books are comparatively cheaper,” shared Shahrooz as he pulled a hefty book from a shelf and opened it to reveal intricate art alongside bilingual poetry. “This book, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam for example, has the poem in Persian language and its translation in English on the same page. The opposite page has pictorial references and the book costs only Rs 1000,” he added.
Apart from poetry, the stall also stocked a number of Qurans, in different sizes, including the most expensive one priced at Rs 9000. The stall manager also claimed to have sold his complete stock of 3000 digital Qurans on the first day of the fair itself!
Just adjacent to this display of spiritual literature, publishers from Pakistan unpacked their stocks on the third last day of the fair in the hope that they would be able to earn their bit through the high demand for books by Saadat Hassan Manto. “Manto’s books are in demand by visitors across age groups. This being his centenary year, there is a curiosity among readers to know more about him. Apart from these, books themed on Pakistan’s culture and politics in both English and Hindi languages, are of interest among Indian readers,” informed Tayyab, at the stall of Royal Book Company from Karachi.
What saw brisk sales were tales of Himalayan folklore at Nepal’s stall. These slim books with tales of kings and demons sold like hot cakes among women. “I don’t know why women are buying folk tales. I had around 15 titles in Nepali language and all of them are sold now,” said a shy 21-year old Prashant Danuwar. He also mentioned that men were enquiring about books on tourist places of Nepal and buying titles based on the history of the country, such as Prithvi Narayan Shah and Munadan, “These are so popular in Nepal that they have been also adapted into films there,” he added.
Surprised with the turnover, Prashant assures that he will return and report the demand for English and Hindi translations of these Nepali books.
His enthusiasm apart, the overall participation of international publishers was much less as compared to the involvement of visitors in search of world literature and