Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Kolkata Book Fair, 2015

Milan Mela where Kolkata Book Fair is now held these days, is about two hours' drive from where I live, and this is the major reason why I've stopped visiting the fair now. But I went to the fair this year. But it was more business than as a book lover. Gangchil, an independent publisher with some repute, was bringing out a book - a memoir - by one of my relatives, and I was somehow involved with the project by way of editing it, writing its blurb, and even choosing its title. Adhir Biswas, the publisher, who I've known since long, generously approved all I did. He launched the book in the book fair, and naturally invited me to visit his stall.

The book is called Jhineda, Shyambazar ebong Chhappanna Bachhar / Chhaya De.

I spent about an hour in Gangchil, browsing myriad titles Adhir had published over the years. Though a fiction-writer himself, he publishes mainly non-fiction, even by new, unknown authors. I was mortified to hear from him that Bengali fiction doesn't sell at all. Interestingly, however, he has published four volumes of short stories, novels, essays by Subimal Misra, the cult writer of Bengali literature. Does he sell? Yes, Adhir said, we have had even second editions of some of these volumes.

While browsing, I came across a hefty little mag called Bagher Bachcha which devotes all of its pages on Subimal Misra: an excellent compilation of Misra's own work, interviews, reviews, essays by writers, academicians and intellectuals - among them V. Ramaswamy(Misra's English translator) and Janam Mukherjee, the historian, with whom I've discussed Misra on many occasions.

Sadly, there's a page in the mag where there's a hand-written message from Subimal Misra : I'm physically unwell. It's not possible for me to write anything new.

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