Eminent author from Guatemala Euda Morales on Thursday inaugurated the 43rd International Kolkata Book Fair (IKBF), the world's third largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt and London book fairs.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and distinguished writers were present on the dais as Morales declared the fair open by striking the customary gong at the Central Park ground in Salt Lake, where the 12-day event has been shifted with its regular venue Milan Mela undergoing renovation.
Guatemala being featured as the focal country in the latest edition of the IKBF.
Speaking on the occasion, Banerjee rated the IKBF as the best in the world.
She said books have immense contributions to make societies civilised and are an essential part of life.
With the advent of computer, social network, twitter, Facebook, people make their opinions online and write stories, poems and literature on social media but once upon a time, book was the "only weapon".
Apart from the central American nation, there are 26 participating countries such as Russia, Costa Rica, Spain, Scotland, Australia, Argentina and Bangladesh. There will be books in 24 local languages of Guatemala.
There will be around 24 discussion and lecture sessions on varied topics such as 'changing face of publishing', 'security of the nation', '50 years of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' (Satyajit Ray's film) during the fair.
Stalls of approximately 600 publishers and 200 small magazines have been set up.
The sixth Kolkata Literature Festival will be held from February 7 to 9 along with the book fair which closes on February 11. There will be speakers from nine countries, including India.
The fair would have halls named after eminent writers Nirendranath Chakraborty, Dibyendu Palit, Atin Bandopadhyay and Pinaki Thakur who passed away recently.
Ambassador of Guatemala Giovanni Castillo, eminent Bengali author Mani Shankar Mukhopadhyay, and officials of organisers West Bengal Publisher and Book Sellers' Guild were present at the inauguration.
The Kolkata Book Fair has been a part of Bengal's culture since its inception in 1976. It is a unique book fair meant primarily for the general public rather than whole-sale distributors and the largest of its kind in Asia.
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