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Book fair begins on a dull note

- Organisers blame incomplete kiosks, strike for low turnout
Workers at a kiosk wait for visitors on the second day of the book fair in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 21: The city’s most-awaited and biggest book fair was inaugurated on Wednesday at Exhibition Ground.

However, the 29th edition of the Bhubaneswar Book Fair got off to a dull start with a low turnout on the first day and several kiosks yet to open.

“The two-day strike was a setback since more than 30 of our participating publishers and bookselling chains from outside the state could not make it on the first day as well as on Thursday. But we are sure the remaining the 10 days of the fair will attract readers, publishers and authors like every year,” said veteran litterateur Barendra Krushna Dhal, one of the organisers.

One of the oldest book fairs of the state, the event is known to be a melting pot for Odia litterateurs and readers.

This year too, the annual literary fair will see more than 400 stalls, of which over 100 are by publishing houses from the state. Organisers said many from outside could not make it to the event on time because of the strike.

Many Odia publishing houses have set up kiosks, much to the delight of those who dared the shutdown to be at the fair on the opening day.

From Upendra Bhanja, Fakir Mohan, Gangadhar Meher to Manoj Das, Bibhuti Patnaik, Pratibha Ray and Pratibha Satpathy, one can find omnibus, short stories, poetry and novels by many eminent authors from the state here.

“All old Odia publishing houses such as Grantha Mandir, Vidyapuri and Friends Publishers are here already. They always come up with irresistible collections of Odia authors. Hopefully, the kiosks of Publication Division from New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi, National Book Trust and many others from Bangalore, Calcutta and other regions will be ready by Friday,” said Priti Rout, a homemaker and avid reader.

Among major attractions at the fair are heavy discounts on a large number of bestselling English novels.

“The third part of the Shiva trilogy by Amish Tripathi will be sold here during the last three days. We are already getting queries about it. But right now, we are waiting for many other books to arrive,” said a book kiosk owner.

Veteran author and translator Jugal Kishore Dutta is here with his book of five new Odia short stories that he has been bringing out every year.

“I collect or translate five short stories and make them into a book that costs a maximum of five rupees. I have been releasing a new one every year at the fair for the past 29 years. This is my small effort to promote Odia literature,” said the author.

An award ceremony also took place on the opening day. Author Prafulla Kumar Ray of Jajpur and theatre activist Ramesh Panigrahi from Bhubaneswar were honoured.

Well-known writer Archana Nayak will be felicitated on March 3, the last day of the fair.