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Chennai’s annual book fair opens without fanfare

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Dull start: Visitors look at the books displayed at the Chennai Book Fair, which opened on Friday.
Dull start: Visitors look at the books displayed at the Chennai Book Fair, which opened on Friday.

Staff Reporter

Inauguration function cancelled because of rain

CHENNAI: Rain played spoilsport on the first day of the Chennai Book Fair, leading to the cancellation of the Chief Minister’s award distribution and inauguration function on Friday. However, a few hundred city residents braved the rain, slush and half-hearted displays at the venue in their quest for the printed word.

Organised by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), the book fair has become an annual event that the city looks forward to. It is being held for the second time at the St. George’s School venue, which boasts parking space for over 500 cars and several hundred two-wheelers.

500 stalls set up

More than 500 stalls of various publishers and booksellers have been set up. Among the special features for this year are the racks allotted to small publishers, who cannot afford the stalls.

On Friday, following news of the cancellation of the inaugural programme, the venue presented a forlorn sight with slush and half-built stages greeting the intrepid visitor. Inside the fair, stalls were in the process of being set up while visitors had begun browsing through the materials on display.

Film screening

Following the precedent set at the last book fair, BAPASI and the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers’ Association would be organising a festival of short films, documentaries and feature films, commencing Saturday. They promise that the facilities would be better than the rudimentary provisions made the previous year. A booklet with information on the films being screened, including ones on writers and contemporary political issues, is to be brought out. In the evenings a filmmaker would present a film and be available for discussion.

Felicitation of authors

The book fair was to have been inaugurated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who had donated Rs. 1 crore to BAPASI last year. The association instituted the Kavignar Karunanidhi Porkizhi Viruthu with the amount.

The authors, who will now be felicitated at a later date, would be given Rs. 1 lakh each and a citation. The selected authors from Tamil are Ma.Su. Sambanthan, Kavingar Puviarasu, Mu. Ramasamy and Tamilselvi, and from Malayalam, Sarah Joseph. According to a press release, one writer from an Indian language and English could be selected for the award as well, besides four Tamil writers.

The book fair would be on till January 17 at St. George’s School between 2 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. on working days and 11 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. on holidays.

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