The Amar Ekushey Boi Mela has an emotional and cultural attachment to the people of Bangladesh. This year’s edition of the fair, the largest of its kind in Bangladesh, concluded on Saturday drawing a huge crowd throughout February and seeing a record number of books launched.
Of the 4,919 books published this year, 1,585 were poetry, the Bangla Academy said.
Others include 731 novels, 644 story-books, 271 essays, 203 children books, 152 Liberation War-themed books, 149 biographical-autobiographical books, 144 books on Bangabandhu, 112 research-related publications, 111 books on rhymes, 96 books on history, 83 science-related books, 82 books based on travelling, 67 detective and science fictions, 56 translations, 40 books on comedy, 36 books on medicine and medical science, 34 books on drama and dramatics, 20 religious books, 14 dictionaries, 13 political books, 8 series of essays and 268 other books have been published throughout the fair.
According to book-selling e-commerce site Rokomari.com, writer Arif Azad was this year’s best-seller writer. Freelance Nasim stood as the second best-seller and young literateur Sadat Hossain ranked third.
Apart from them, eminent writers such as Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Farid Ahmed, social influencers such as Ayman Sadiq, Sadman Sadiq, Sakib Bin Rashid, poet Marjuk Rasel, YouTuber Salman Muktadir and others had been ranked as the frontrunners throughout the fair for their books.
However, readers and scholars have questioned the quality of many books.
A common tendency of the writers was noticeable - the rush for publishing and bringing the books out specifically for the fair. Many fans welcomed the new flow of writers and books coming out of this process, while some questioned the necessity of the rush.
This year’s fair was dedicated to Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Several seminars were held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day from February 3 to 29 followed by cultural events. Many of the discussions were featured on Bangabandhu and books written on his life and works.
Like the previous years, the venue this year was extended to nearby Suhrawardy Udyan. With the land earmarked for the fair expanded to 8,00,000 sq ft. A total of 873 units were allocated to the 560 organisations.
The authorities have allotted 179 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 126 organisatons and 694 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 694 organisations.
First extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more participants, this year the fairgoers had a crazy rush at the ground since the academy premise was mostly used for a variety of arrangements.
The duration of the fair this year was short even after being organised during a leap-year. Also, due to the DNCC-DSCC election on February 1 as well as Bangla Academy’s renewed calendar-suggested same day celebrations of Valentine’s Day and Pahela Falgun, some of the sellers expressed dissatisfaction.
The third International Art Festival 2020 Nilphamari concluded on a high note.
Artists from five countries created a cornucopia of artworks in a four-day art camp. The results were on display at the idyllic ambience of Nilsagor, the festival venue.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak graced the occasion as the chief guest while former cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor presided over the programme.
Convener of the festival, renowned artist Mohammad Eunus, spoke at the event while the curator of festival Md Harun-ar-Rashid Tutul elaborated the details of the arrangement.
Palak expressed his sincere wish to hold this iconic festival at Chalan Beel, a vast water body adjacent to Natore, the minister’s hometown.
He also announced to set up an animation studio at the Department of Graphic Design, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, and a 100-crore project ‘Nilphamari ICT Park’ in Nilphamari.
Asaduzzaman Noor thanked all concerned for successfully holding the festival.
He said Five generations of artists spontaneously participated in the grand festival where they created a number of artworks on Bangabandhu and the beautiful nature and cultural heritage of the place.
Contemporary artists, foreign artists and country’s renowned artists worked together and participated in various art and cultural activities. Participating artists’ positive vibes and close collaboration with each other kept the venue vibrant in all four days, he said.
He said the artists and the organisers’ commitment to reconstruct a beautiful Bangladesh through innovative art practice and the projection of Bangladesh’s rich culture in the festival has been achieved significantly.
He said holding such a gigantic festival in a remote area of Bangladesh is not an easy job for which the Art Festival 2020 Nilphamari Organising Committee together with Vision 2021, Nilphamari, and Art Bangla, Dhaka, deserves immense accolades.
Vowing to spread the love for literature among the young generation, the two-day long community book fair in the city's Gulshan ended Saturday.
The first edition of the Boi Mela, consisting of over 15 stalls, was arranged by Gulshan Society at Gulshan Lake Park.
The vibrant literature festival was attended by residents of Gulshan and visitors from outside. Fitness enthusiasts who stroll the park regularly were in for a pleasant experience for two days.
Shukla Sarwat Siraj, Secretary General of Gulshan Society, on the closing day expressed hope that the fair will be held regularly in future.
"The fair has been arranged to facilitate the residents of Gulshan area ... this area is at a great distance from Amar Ekushey Book Fair and so a separate book fair here will help the book lovers in Gulshan," she said.
The final day saw a comparatively large crowd.
Visitors expressed satisfaction for the neatly arranged segments on contemporary literature. They also wished that such essential festival will continue in future.
A small cultural function was arranged before the closure of the fair.
The literature festival had stalls from renowned publishers and other organisations including Cosmos Books, University Press Limited, Pathak Samabesh, Boi Bichitra, Ignite Publications and more.
The month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair ended on Saturday amid a record publication of books and fanfare.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid was present as the chief guest while President of Bangla Academy Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman presided over the concluding ceremony.
Director of the Academy and member secretary of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2020 Jalal Ahmed presented the report of the fair while Director General of the Academy Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech.
The number of books published this year was higher than the two previous years. On the last day of the fair, 184 books were released.
Jalal Ahmed said 4,919 books came out during the just-concluded fair but a special committee deemed only 706 of them to be up to the mark.
He said the total sale was Tk 82 crore while the Bangla Academy sold books worth Tk 2.33 crore.
Director General of Bangla Academy Habibullah said they will solve all problems in consultation with stakeholders before the next book fair.
At the closing ceremony, Bangla Academy handed over awards to the winners of its “Gunijon Sahitya Puroskar” chosen from among the publishing houses participating at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair.
‘Kothaprokash’ received the ‘Chittaranjan Saha Smriti Puroskar 2020’, while ‘Munier Chowdhury Smriti Puraskar 2020’ was given for the publication of aesthetically rich and standard content in books published in 2020.
The award was received by Prothoma publication for Johnerberg er Journal by Moinul Hossain, Journeymen Books publication for Prottoye Smriti O Onanno by Abul Hasnat and Bengal publication for Smirtir Pathorekha by Rafiqunnabi.
‘Rokonuzzaman Khan Dadabhai Smriti Puraskar’ was awarded to Panjaree Publication for publishing excellent books for kids while ‘Qayyum Chowdhury Smriti Puraskar’ was given to three publications -- Ovijan (Single Unit), Kuregar Prakashani Limited (Multi-Unit) and Bangla Prakash (Pavilion) for best interior design which is aesthetically rich.
Syed Waliullah Literature Award-2018 was given to the writer Salma Bani and Sagufta Sharmin Tania in the programme.
This year, Bangla Academy set the theme 'Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu' for the fair as it was dedicated to the iconic leader, marking his birth centenary. The book fair held daily discussions on Bangabandhu at the main stage of the Academy premises throughout the month.
Focusing on Bangabandhu, architect Enamul Karim Nirjhar drew up the overall plan of the book fair. The main attraction of the inauguration ceremony was the official publication of the third book written by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, titled "Amar Dekha Naya Chin" (The New China as I Saw).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the daughter of Bangabandhu, unveiled the cover of the book.
Like the previous years, the venue of the fair has been extended to the nearby Suhrawardy Udyan with some changes. This year, the little magazine chattar was moved to the main fair premises at Suhrawardy Udyan.
This year, land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 8,00,000 square ft. A total of 873 units were allocated to 560 organisations.
The authorities allotted 179 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 126 organisations, and 694 units at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 434 organisations. Moreover, 34 pavilions were allocated this year.
Bangla Academy organised a "Shishu Chattar" this year, where children enjoyed "Shishu Prahar" (children time) during the fair.
Imagine being so close to Martin Luther King Jr. as he gives one of the world's most famous speeches that you notice the creases in his face and then realize the late civil rights leader is looking you square in the eye.
That's the intense personal moment organizers are striving for with a one-of-a-kind virtual reality exhibit opening Friday at Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History. Called "The March," it captures the 1963 March on Washington during which King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" address.
"The speech is so well known and the ways people are used to seeing it is kind of archival, grainy two-dimensional film," said Mia Tramz, an editorial director of immersive experiences at TIME, which helped create the project. "By being able to see it with your own two eyes and feel like you're standing there, you not only get the message of the words, but the message of the energy that he put behind those words."
The project has the rare full backing from King's estate, which fiercely guards his likeness and speeches. The high-tech effort took years of research on King's gestures and expressions, as well as interviews with attendees.
Creators said it was inspired by an archive image of King giving a different speech on the National Mall, shot from his perspective looking out. TIME, which features King in a March issue, worked with companies including a production studio run by actress Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon. Davis narrates part of the project.
Visitors start in an dark empty room with audio of people involved in key events leading up to the march. One is Hank Thomas, who was a Freedom Rider — activists who protested segregation by sitting in bus seats reserved for whites and who experienced violence and jail.
After that, attendees are outfitted with heavy virtual reality headsets that block out the outside world and replace it with three-dimensional glimpses of Aug. 28, 1963, on the National Mall. In what sometimes looks like a video game, visitors march along Constitution Avenue and then stand in the crowd of some 250,000.
Then the scenery changes again. Visitors find themselves standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and an arm's length from King, whose hand gestures and facial expressions are brought to life. After delivering part of the speech, he walks by and locks eyes, a moment creators say is unparalleled.
"You're not listening to it. You're not reading it. You are actually in it. And there is a point that you're listening to it for the first time because you're experiencing it, because you're actually there," Davis said. "It's those experiences that are unforgettable."
The permission from King's estate was also unusual.
Run by King's children and known to be litigious, the estate closely guards any use of King's image, name and work. The estate initially balked at plans to put a life-size commemorative King statue at the Georgia Capitol and didn't grant rights to speeches for the 2014 film "Selma," which won an Oscar for the best original song and was nominated for best picture.
Tramz declined to discuss how the project got the estate's backing. Messages left for Atlanta-based Intellectual Properties Management, which manages King's estate and controls rights to his works and images, weren't returned.
The experience isn't for the faint of heart. Participants must sign a liability waiver warning of possible risks, such as dizziness, and there's a built-in "decompression zone." The 15-minute experience isn't recommended for children under 13.
There are also limitations.
Only four people can go through simultaneously and technology-related snags happen. During a media preview attended by the Associated Press, the screen blacked out and images were blurry at times.
Creators said the technology is being fine-tuned but that such glitches aren't unusual given the amount of wireless data being streamed to the headsets.
The exhibit runs until November. Creators plan to replicate the technology in other museums to recreate the exhibit. Details aren't finalized.
Organizers hope the experience inspires civic engagement.
"(It) makes you want to pick up that sign. Makes you want to go out and vote. Makes you want to go out and make somebody else's life better," Tennon said.