Publishers from 35 countries at Delhi’s World Book Fair

Publishers from 35 countries at Delhi’s World Book Fair

By BHUMIKA POPLI | | 6 January, 2018
People rummaging through old books at New Delhi World Book Fair. Photo: Abhishek Shukla
Delhi’s most popular literary event, World Book Fair opened at Pragati Maidan this Saturday, with a host of activities, panel discussions and books sales lined up for visitors, writes Bhumika Popli.
The 46th edition the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF), with “Environment and Climate Change” as its main theme, began this Saturday at Pragati Maidan. The annual book fair, which culminates on 14 January, is hosting some 1,600 stalls put up by leading publishers from across the world, and is likely to attract decent footfall over the weekend. 

Spread across halls 7, 11, 12 and 12A of Pragati Maidan, the event is playing host to hundreds of international players. Indeed, the European Union is the fair’s “country of focus” this year.

The NDWBF is known for promoting socially-relevant themes. Last year, the fair’s central theme was “Manushi”, and the events were designed around writings on and by women, from the ancient days till the present. This time around, the focus is on the environment. Issues like climate change, global warming and water pollution will be among the subjects addressed at the many debates, talks and lectures lined up for the nine-day festival.

Author Kallia Papadaki, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2017, and Sunita Narain, an environmentalist, are among the special guests at this year’s fair. Narain is expected to speak about her recently launched book, Conflicts of Interest, which give a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s green movement.

In accordance with the larger theme, an environmental protection photo exhibition has been put up at the venue. Another special exhibition on European literature, entitled Books from Europe, features on the event’s billing for this year.  

Visitors can look forward to special events organised by European publishers. There’s also the EU Prize Winners Writing workshop led by Kallia Papadaki, David Machado, Osvalds Zebris on 9 January. The launch of a Hindi translation of Anthology of Contemporary German Short Stories will take place on 11 January. A special exhibition, titled All the Beauties in the World,
will also take place at the EU pavilion. This exhibition will talk about the life and work of Jaroslav Seifert, a well-known Czech poet and philosopher who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1984.

Literature for children remains one of the prime interests for the publishing industry worldwide. The EU Pavilion will have a special section for children—featuring activities like reading sessions, workshops and tutorials on doing illustrations for children’s books.

As part of Bonjour India 2017-18, a bilateral cultural programme between India and France, the NDWBF will also host French authors and thinkersInternationally acclaimed writer David Foenkinos will contribute to a meaningful dialogue to discuss the past, present and future of Indo-French literary ties. He will participate in an event named “Lazy Sunday of Literatures” on 7 January, and in “Being a publisher in  a Digital Age” on  8 January, along with 11 other European authors, for an afternoon of readings and interactions. This Indo-French collaboration aims at increasing the numbers of translations of French contemporary fiction and non-fiction titles into Indian languages, and fostering a long-term partnership between Indian and French publishers.

Publishers and authors from more than 35 countries, including Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, are participating in this edition of the World Book Fair.

Along with great literature, people visiting the fair can also enjoy numerous non-literary cultural activities. The presentation of India’s varied culture has been an important segment of the fair in the past. This year, special performances have been planned to showcase India’s traditional as well as contemporary art forms. 

One Pakistani publisher, too, is part of the NDWBF this year. “There is a good demand of books from Pakistan. Readers have always liked and appreciated their writing. So this year, the publisher has returned. May be just one but we’re hopeful that this will be a good indication,” National Book Trust of India (NBT), Director Rita Chaudhary told IANS. Last year too, only one distributor from Pakistan had participated in the book fair.

With this year’s fair, the NBT has also started an initiative called “Har Haath Ek Kitaab” [A book in every hand] to promote the habit of reading among people.

The fair will also witness a range of panel discussions, talks, workshops, children’s activities, screening of short films, special photo exhibits as well as cultural and musical performances. In author›s corner, visitors will get to interact with some well-known writers, such as Ruskin Bond, Jerry Pinto, Michael Creighton, Paro Anand, Mridula Garg and Ranjit Lal among others. 

The World Book Fair also provides an international platform to regional languages of India. Writers and publishers from the vernacular space see this as a welcome opportunity to interact, connect with and learn from their Western counterparts. To facilitate this knowledge exchange, the NBT is organising a “New Delhi Rights Table”, from 8-9 January, a B2B forum of sorts for Indian and foreign publishers. Transfer of publishing rights across international borders will be the main issue addressed at the Rights Table.

Along with great literature, people visiting the fair can also enjoy numerous non-literary cultural activities. The presentation of India’s varied culture has been an important segment of the fair in the past. This year, special performances have been planned to showcase India’s traditional as well as contemporary art forms. The Padma Bhushan awardee Sonal Mansingh will be choreographing a classical fusion piece on conservation of our natural resources at the fair; and singer Malini Awasthi will be performing folk songs in Hindi dialects like Awadhi and Bundeli.

 

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