There are some events that are inherent to Chennai’s cultural calendar and the Annual Chennai Book Fair is one of them.
Every year during the Pongal season -young and old alike- flock in large numbers to wherever Chennai’s Annual Book Fair is being held and literally immerse themselves amidst a slew of books. For the bibliophiles of the city, the book fair which is traditionally held in January is what marks the beginning of each year.
But the unexpected deluge last December resulted in the annual event -organized by the Book and Publishers Association of South India (BAPSAI) - being postponed for the first time in 38 years.
The 39th Chennai Book Fair that was to be held in January this year is now being held from Wednesday for the next two weeks till June 13 at Island Grounds.
“The preparations to hold the event in January were underway almost six months prior to the event. But the recent floods in Chennai changed all logistic equations and we couldn’t go ahead with the event,” said a senior BAPSAI official while speaking to The News Minute.
He added that the setting up of stalls which usually begins in December every year was just not possible due to the floods.
The book fair is however being organized on a grander scale this time with 700 stalls, with the organizers giving special emphasis to regional language-stalls. For the first time, there will be stalls that sell books exclusively in south Indian regional languages.
“Chennai has a significant percentage of Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada population. With an aim to encourage reading among one and all, we had send feelers to a few regional publications and they readily agreed to participate in the fair,” elaborates Gandhi Kannadasan, president, BAPASI.
In addition, BAPSAI has rendered an honorary position to Singaporean literature with a stall at the pavilion for the same, where native authors are expected to interact with the local audience.
A special pavilion has also been set up in honour of former President of India - the late Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. In yet another first, Braille system too has been installed to cater to the visually challenged.
“The event has become part and parcel of the city now. We expect over twenty lakh people to visit the fair this year. We hope to hold the event in its traditional slot next year,” opines Kannadasan.