Anita Anand at the
inauguration. (Pradip Sanyal)
Writers, poets and musicians from India and the UK joined hands to throw open the 39th edition of Calcutta Book Fair at Milan Mela on Tuesday.
The inauguration saw British author Anita Anand talk about her books and Ghazalaw - Mumbai singer Tauseef Akhtar and Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn - present love poetry.
Rob Lynes, the country director of British Council, also attended the inauguration ceremony.
"There will be special emphasis on knowledge, education and culture. I am just back from the Jaipur Literature Festival. The footfall is increasing every year there. People's thirst for knowledge and information has not diminished and I am waiting to see the number of visitors in the Calcutta event this year," Lynes told Metro.
"Book fairs are evolving. Now book lovers have a chance to interact and share ideas with authors and hear them speak. More knowledge is up for grabs. The curation and synthesising of the whole event is very different now and more wholesome."
Day 2 of the Book Fair will see Anand in conversation with Samita Sen, the vice-chancellor of Diamond Harbour Women's University. The author of Sophia: Princess, Suffragette Revolutionary will also interact with fans.
"The Book Fair pays tribute to Shakespeare on his 450th birth anniversary. We will conduct several workshops on Shakespeare all through the year, starting from the Book Fair. At Milan Mela, we will screen several BBC productions of Shakespearian plays and films," said Sujata Sen, director (east), British Council.
Also lined up is a conversation between Tracy Irish, Shakespeare scholar at the University of Warwick, and Abhijit Gupta of Jadavpur University on Shakespeare and Communication to Wider Audience on February 7. The next day Sen will moderate an interaction between Amit Chaudhuri and UK author Adam Foulds.
Several other writers from the UK - Alexandra Buchler, Bill Herbert, Ed Owles and Joe Dunthorne among others - will be in town to exchange ideas.
Another event to look out for is Walking Cities, a tribute to Dylan Thomas. Welsh poets Dunthorne and Johnathan Edwards and Indian writers Jeet Thayil and Tishani Doshi will walk around Calcutta from February 3 to 7 and "create something for the book fair and its lovers". "We are all looking forward to what they come up with together," said Sen. The writers will be in discussion with Anjum Katyal on February 7.
Will the two countries be exchanging culinary tips too, given Bengalis are such foodies? "In this case we chose not to compete with Calcutta," smiled Lynes.