Shakespeare, Chaplin at Kolkata Book Fair

Shakespeare, Chaplin at Kolkata Book Fair

The 39th edition of International Kolkata Book Fair is set to begin at the end of this month with the UK returning as a focal theme country after 16 years.

The mega event, which is said to be Asia’s largest book fair, has been scheduled from January 28 to February 8 and will feature the works of William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, W B Yeats, noted Bengali author Suniti Chatterji and legendary actor-director Sombhu Mitra in five dedicated pavilions.

“After 16 years, Great Britain will be the focal theme at the Kolkata Book Fair. The fair will be inaugurated on January 27 with the chief minister of West Bengal as the chief guest,” Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of the Publishers & Booksellers Guild said here on Thursday.

Bangladeshi-origin British author Zia Haider Rahman will deliver the Asoke Kumar Sarkar Memorial Lecture, an annual tradition since 1984, on January 29.

“India is one of the few major markets, which is experiencing a growth in book publishing. It has over 19,000 publishers with over 90,000 titles being published each year. It is the third largest market for English books after the US and the UK,” said Lynes, Director of the British Council India.

“The UK was a focal theme in Kolkata in 1998 while Scotland was a focal theme in the year 2009. At this very important time in India’s history, we are delighted to participate in the Kolkata Book Fair.”

The year marks the 450th birth anniversary of William Shakespeare and the book fair will celebrate the author and the different interpretations of his works in various Indian languages.  “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,” Chatterjee said.

To mark Irish poet W B Yeats’ birth centenary, which also falls this year, the British Council, together with the Wales Art International, are hosting “Walking Cities”, which pairs British and Indian writers to tour each others’ cities.

Indian poets Jeet Thayil and Tishani Doshi are to take part in the programme with Welsh poets Joe Dunthorne and Jonathan Edwards.

The Kolkata Book Fair, is recognised by the International Publishers Association, Geneva, and is also the largest book fair in the world in terms of visitors. In 2014, organisers said the fair was visited by 1.8 million people over 12 days.

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