The month-long "Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2024", the country's largest book fair, is going to begin on its traditional date of the first day of February this year.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the fair to be held under the auspices of Bangla Academy on its premises and Suhrawardy Udyan on February 1 at 3 pm," Bangla Academy director general poet Mohammad Nurul Huda told a press conference at Bangla Academy on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also hand over the awards to the winners of Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 along with unveiling the covers of some books including 'Collected Works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Volume-2', published by Bangla Academy.
The theme of this year's book fair is "Paro Boi, Garo Desh: Bangabandhur Bangladesh (Read Book build country: Bangabandhu's Bangladesh) and the Bangla Academy is organizing the fair.
A total of 937 stalls have been allocated to 635 organizations. The authorities have allotted 173 stalls to 120 organizations for the Bangla Academy ground and 764 stalls to 515 organizations for the Suhrawardy Udyan.
Moreover, a total of 37 pavilions have been allocated this year. Last year, a total of 901 stalls were allocated in favour of 601 organisations.
This year, the entire work of the fair is being done by Bangla Academy alone to avoid any criticism, said Member Secretary of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair Committee Dr KM Muzahidul Islam.
"In the previous years, some event management companies were involved in fair arrangements which faced some criticism last year", said Muzahidul.
Along with cultural programmes and month-long seminars, there will be arrangements for children and teenagers which include drawing, music and recitation competitions.
Stall allotment for old and newly enlisted publications was done through a digitalised lottery system on 23 January, said the organisers.
Like previous years, the main stage of the fair will be on the Bangla Academy premises while book unwrapping and 'Lekhak Bolchi' stages will be set up on Suhrawardi Udyan premises, said Mujahidul. 'Shishu Chattar' has also been set up in Sadhu Shanga area beside the Ramna Kali Temple.
The book fair will remain open for all from 3 pm to 9 pm on working days and 11:00 am to 9 pm on public holidays with a one-hour break for lunch and prayers.
For notable contributions to various aspects of Bangla literature, this year, the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 will be given in 11 categories- poetry, fiction, essay/research, translation, drama, children's literature category, Liberation War, Bangabandhu, environment/science field, biography and folklore.
The award recipients are: Shamim Azad (poetry), Novelists Nuruddin Jahangir and Salma Bani (jointly in fiction), Zulfikar Matin (essay/research), Saleha Chowdhury (translation), Playwrights Mrittika Chakma and Masud Pathik (jointly in drama), Tapankar Chakrabarty (children's literature), Afroza Parvin and Asaduzzaman Asad (research on the Liberation War), Saifullah Mahmud Dulal and Md Mojibur Rahman (research on Bangabandhu), ornithologist Inam Al Haque (environment/science field), Ishak Khan (biography) and Tapan Bagchi and Suman Kumar Das (jointly in folklore).
Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police has taken all measures like the previous years to ensure foolproof security of the fair considering current political situation and challenges caused from operation of the metro rail in the book fair area.
Militancy, arson attacks and traffic management are among the main challenges centering the book fair, DMP said in a press release after a meeting with senior police officials.
DMP observed that Metrorail service has appeared as a new challenge as it was noticed that miscreants have been trying to carry out sabotages on the metrorail.
However, DMP will deploy a sufficient number of police personnel in both uniform and plain cloth inside and outside the book fair ground while a watch tower and fire tender will be set up to monitor everything around the fair venue, he said.
Besides, the fairground and its surroundings will be monitored round the clock with CCTV cameras and drones, DMP commissioner said. Team of DMP will sweep the whole venue while social media will be monitored to thwart rumours.