Uncertainty looms over book fair

Emergency meeting today to fix date

Uncertainty looms large over the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangla Academy, the organiser of the fair, has not yet decided when the book fair will start. 

The fair management committee has called an emergency meeting today (Sunday) to fix the date of the fair. The meeting is scheduled to be held at 11:30am in the conference room of Bangla Academy.

Bangla Academy Director General Habibullah Siraji said, “We will take the decision after discussing with the government, publishers and the ministry concerned today (Sunday).”

According to Bangla Academy sources, the academy is still in a dilemma over the beginning of this year’s fair as the corona situation is not completely under control. 

However, preparations have been taken to organise the fair as the government made announcement to start the covid vaccination from February. 

Farid Ahmed, the owner of Samay Prakashan and also the president of Academic and Creative Publishers’ Association of Bangladesh, said, “We held a meeting with the Bangla Academy authority on January 5. The academy authority told us that they needed a minimum of two months’ time for arranging the fair. The date for its launch might be deferred to March 5.”

According to sources, the Bangla Academy authorities initially fixed March 17 for organising the fair. 

However, the inaugural ceremony of the Independence Day of Bangladesh is scheduled to be held on March 26 at the Suhrawardy Udyan, where the book fair is also scheduled to be held. The President and the Prime Minister are likely to be present at the event. 

In this case, the fair may be closed for two days after its start. Bangla Academy has also planned to start the fair in April. But the holy month of the Ramadan will start from April 12. 

Earlier on December 13, publishers demanded that the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2021 be held at the scheduled venues following the govern-set health directives. They also proposed that the fair begin before February 21.

The book fair began on the Bangla Academy premises informally in 1972, and it became institutionalised in 1978. The fair was named Amar Ekushey Granthamela and a guideline for it was formulated in 1984.