The month-long Amar Ekushey Granthomela (book fair) opened to visitors on Thursday (Feb 1) after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony on the Bangla Academy, Hasina expressed optimism that the Bangladesh literature will reach the global arena. People from across the country and expatriate Bangladeshis stream into the fair, turning it into a grand annual reunion.
The Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2017 (Bangla Academy Literary Award 2017) was also presented at the ceremony presided over by the academy's Chairman Professor Anisuzzaman. After the ceremony, the PM toured the fair venue, visiting pavilions of several publishers. The venue this year is larger than last year and has drawn in 455 publishers. Publishers have offered a 25 percent discount for the annual book fair.
At the same function, the premier also launched a two-day International Literature Conference 2018, and handed over prizes among the winners of 'Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2017'.
The winners are: Mohammad Sadik and Maruful Islam (poetry), Mamun Hossain (fiction), Professor Mahbubul Haque (essay), Professor Rafiqullah Khan (research), Aminur Rahman Bhuiyan (translation), Kamrul Hasan Bhuiyan and Surma Jahid (literature on Liberation War), Shakur Majid (travelogue), Maloy Bhoumik (drama), Moshtak Ahmed (science, technology and environment) and Jharna Dash Purokayshto (juvenile literature). Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor addressed the function as the special guest, while Bangla Academy Chairman and Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman presided.
Cultural Affairs Secretary Ibrahim Hossain Khan, Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan and President of Bangladesh Pustok Prokashak and Bikreta Samity Arif Hossain Chhotan spoke. United Kingdom writer and poet Ignis Mirose, Cameroonian writer Dr Joyce Ashuntantang, Egyptian Poet Ibrahim Elmasi and Swedish writer Arli Johnson also spoke on the occasion.
Cabinet members, PM's advisers, parliament members, political leaders, noted writers, researchers, poets and publishers and fellows of Bangla Academy joined the function.
At the outset of the function, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the Language Movement martyrs.
A total of 800 stalls including 670 book stalls, 150 stalls of little magazines and some stalls of different socio-cultural organizations have been set up in the book fair covering an area of 1.50 lakh square feet. The authorities for the first time have included the Shadhinota Stambha (Independence Monument) at the Suhrawardy Udyan as part of the book fair.
The book fair will remain open for all from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on working days and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on government holidays with a one-hour break for lunch and offering prayers. It will continue till Feb 28.
Poets and writers from 15 countries will join the International Literature Conference, 2018 to be held on Feb 22-23.