Keen to rope in publishers from Pakistan for the first time in the history of the International Kolkata Book Fair (IKBF), the organisers have written to the country's Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking his intervention, an official said on Friday.
"We have written to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on November 28 and am hopeful of the country's participation for the first time as six publishers have shown interest in our invitation," secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild Tridib Chatterjee told IANS over phone.
The 12-day event, beginning January 30, 2019, is slated to be inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The central American nation Guatemala -- the heart of the Mayan World -- is the focal country this time along with participating countries such as the UK, the US, Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam, 11 Latin American countries and Bangladesh.
Chatterjee said he had approached the National Book Foundation of Pakistan in September and spoken to them. Not hearing from them even after two months, the Guild decided to seek the help of the neighbouring nation's Prime Minister.
Chatterjee recalled that Khan, World Cup winning Pakistan cricket captain, was one of the speakers at the Kolkata Literature Festival, a highlight of the IKBF, in 2012.
"He came to the Book Fair in 2012 and experienced the gathering and footfall himself. So we requested him to look into the matter," he said.
The organisers are hopeful as the participants and publishers have already applied for the Visa.
"We wrote to him reminding about 2012 when he was a special guest and visited Kolkata Literature Festival.. That time he was a participant but not a Prime Minister, now things have changed," Chatterjee said.
Khan had himself seen the craze among the Abook lovers of Kolkata and the excitement surrounding the fair.
"So we are hoping for the best," Chatterjee added.
With the fair's regular venue Milan Mela still undergoing renovation, the fair would be held at the Central Park in Salt Lake this year too, and stalls of approximately 600 publishers and 200 small magazines will be set up.
Also, the sixth Kolkata Literature Festival, will be held from February 7 to 9 and the book fair wraps up on February 10.
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