Bangla Academy Amar Ekushey Book Fair

The Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visiting the Bangla Academy stall in Amar Ekushey Book Fair

Amar Ekushey Book Fair is organized by Bangla Academy (1955), a national institute of arts and letters. It starts on 1st February every year and continues throughout the month. It is the longest book fair of the world. No book fair of any other countries continues for so long as one month. The Book Fair is arranged to commemorate the glorious sacrifices of language martyrs of the Language Movement of 21 February in 1952. Every year Honorable Prime Minister of Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh inaugurates the book fair.

The Book Fair began its journey in 1972 by selling books of the Academy on commission basis in the Bangla Academy premises. From the beginning of the fair, private publishing organizations also joined. In 1984 it was named ‘Amar Ekushey Granthamela’. The fair venue was extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2014. After then  Amar Ekushey Book Fair is held on the Bangla Academy premises (3 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka-1000) and its adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan and the total area for the fair is about 27870 sqm (3 lac sqft). Every year around 3500-4500 new books on different disciplines are being published. In 2019 its amount of sale reached about BDT 650-770 millions. More than five hundred publication houses, Govt. organizations, NGOs and Research Institutes participate in this book fair.

Seminars and discussions on literature, culture, publications, history and heritage are held during Amar Ekushey book fair in the Bangla Academy premises. Renowned national and international artists, writers and intellectuals participate in these programmes. Bangla Academy arranges competitions of music, art, poetry recitation, general knowledge and extempore speech for children.

Children’s art-competition in the book fair

A long queue to get into the fair

Honorable Prime Minister hands out awards to Bangla Academy Literary Award Winners in the opening ceremony of the book fair. Separate space is allocated for children in the book fair, and the children’s corner is decorated gorgeously with colourful lightings and toys.

Enthusiastic book-lovers

Children corner in the book fair

Amar Ekushey book fair also dedicates a separate corner for ‘Little Magazine’. Young and potential literary activists showcase their talents and creativity by getting opportunity to install their stalls in the ‘Little Magazine Corner.’

Every year the book fair is divided into several corners. These corners are dedicated to the name of prominent litterateurs and writers. A large ‘new book stall’ is built in the Academy premises to display new books. An ‘unveiling stage’ is set up to unveil new books. A stage namely ‘Aami Lekhok Bolchi’ (ÔI’m Your Writer Speaking’) is set up in the book fair. Every day five writers introduce themselves in front of a greater audience on this stage. The writers answer to the different questions of the audiences.

The theme of book fair 2019

A writer talking about his newly published book

This is how authors interact with readers. In 2019, 134 writers (young-senior) talked to readers about their new books for at least 2680 minutes. This event has a positive impact on the media and cultural arena of the country. Amar Ekushey Book Fair is gaining popularity gradually. Readers’ participation, selling books, publishing new books are getting interesting in all aspects. Book fairs have been aesthetically structured for the last few years.

Amar Ekushey Book Fair is the first integrated expression of the awakening that began in Bangladesh after the independence. The book fair is playing an important role as the focal point of developing culture of the country. Various creative publishing organizations in the country are being formed and the number of readers is increasing gradually. The number of the literary and creative thinkers/practitioners is also increasing. Not only people from different parts of the country but also book-loving Bangalees living abroad come to this fair.

A huge gathering in the book fair

The gathering of intellectuals, teachers, students, media-workers, entrepreneurs of literary journals, Little Magazines, research organizations and cultural organizations and, above all, writers and readers makes this event of Ekushey of Bangla Academy unique. The Bangla Academy book fair marks the beginning of a new cultural awakening in Bangladesh.

Photo credit: Dr. Mohammad Mozammel Huq