Kolkata: The 36th Kolkata Book Fair, considered one of the world`s largest in terms of footfalls, was inaugurated by renowned Italian author Beppe Severgni Tuesday. Literary majors like Vikram Seth, Ruskin Bond and Chetan Bhagat are slated to attend the 12-day event, as well as a host of authors from abroad.
The fair, with Italy as the theme country, was inaugurated by Severgni in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other dignitaries from the cultural and the literary world.
"We are very much delighted to welcome you. We have decided that to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanada we will come up with a collection of works of Vivekananda. We will also come up with a collection of works of Kazi Nazrul Islam," said Banerjee while addressing the inaugural programme.
Banerjee added the Kolkata Book Fair is an international event and thanked the people of Italy for keeping India as a theme in one of the book fairs in the European nation a few years back.
Celebrated Italian journalist-author Severgni in his speech equated the passion among the Kolkatans with that back home.
"I come from a country where family matters a lot. I come from a country that loves its foods. I see that the passion here and in my country is similar. We can do lot of things together from literature to industry," said Severgni.
The 36th Kolkata Book Fair has a series of `firsts` in its kitty. For the first time it features a Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) organised as part of the fair where renowned writers such as Vikram Seth, Ruskin Bond, Chetan Bhagat, Shashi Tharoor, Mohammed Hanif, Amit Chaudhuri and Kunal Basu would be present. Popular Bangladeshi author Tahmima Anam, French writer Nicolas Wild, graphic novelist Nicholas Wilde, Scottish travel writer and essayist Kapka Kassabova, Canadian author Craig Taylor, Italian best-selling author Alexandro Baricco are also scheduled to be present.
The KLM was also inaugurated by the chief minister.
It is after many years that former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would not be part of the event which has been close to his heart. This is the first time that the book fair is inaugurated in the presence of a woman chief minister of the state.
Another first was a musical concert at the inaugural ceremony, while a signature song sung by Kaushiki Desikan and Monali Thakur and composed by Shantanu Moitra enthralled the audience. A concert focussing on the impact of foreign compositions on Rabindra Nath Tagore`s songs brought a melodious end to the programme.
Kolkata Book fair has been a part and parcel of Bengal`s culture since its inception in 1976. The Kolkata Book Fair which is also the world`s largest non-trade book fair has earned the distinction of being the Asia`s largest book fair. It is the world`s third largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair.