Spirit beats blast ripples on book fair

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  • Published 11.11.13

The Patna Book Fair may be smaller this year but the spirit is as large as a Russian novel.

The 20th edition of the carnival for book lovers, which started at Gandhi Maidan, on Sunday, is smaller than previous years. But visitors will find collections of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and history at the stalls at Gandhi Maidan.

Book lovers would be able to learn about who Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was before he returned to India from South Africa at the Patna Book Fair this year.

Historian Ramchandra Guha’s book Gandhi Before India, which studies the influence of England, where Gandhi went as a student, and South Africa, where he first dabbled in politics, is available in quite a few shops. The success of Guha’s previous book, India After Gandhi, has raised expectations about this book, published by Penguin and priced at Rs 899.

Book lovers at the fair were excited about what was on offer. Soumya, a final-year medicine student at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, Calcutta, and resident of Patna, was one of the bookworms who visited the fair on the very first day. He said: “The collection of fiction titles is very good.”

He added that the Patna Book Fair was smaller than its more famous Calcutta counterpart. His observation is telling because last year, the fair had more than 500 stalls and 230 publishers had taken part. This year, only 330 stalls and 140 publishers have come.

An official of the organising committee of the fair said: “The security drill for days at the venue following the October 27 blasts and the festivals did not give us much time.”

The Maidan was closed for a week after the blasts during the BJP’s Hunkar Rally, as police and other security agencies were combing it for hidden explosives.

Organised by Centre for Readership Development, the fair was inaugurated by education minister P.K. Shahi. Folk singer Sharda Sinha was present at the inauguration along with education department principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha. The fair will continue till November 24.