I’m in Kolkata, India, for my cousin’s wedding. I’ve been enjoying being part of a Big Fat Bengali Wedding, but I was hoping to spend the weekend at the Kolkata Book Fair, the third largest book fair in the world. This year’s theme was American literature, featuring guests like Paul Theroux, Bharati Mukherjee, and a delegation of American poets; I was particularly interested in seeing what kind of reception they’d get.
Unfortunately, the event’s been cancelled at the last minute, due to a decision by the Kolkata High Court to bar the organizers from holding the event at the planned venue, due to a high likelihood of environmental damage. (The organizers had been kicked out of their previous venue the year before for the same reason, and hadn’t done adequate planning to find a space capable of handling the popular event’s high-intensity noise and environmental impacts.) The cancellation’s been devastating to writers, bibliophiles, and book-related businesses getting ready for the biggest book fair in Asia.
So what of the American delegation? The local book community’s helped the Americans reschedule many events at universities and bookstores around town, and the US Embassy assures us that all isn’t lost.
Most Kolkata residents are disappointed at the turn of events; so am I, but unlike local bibliophiles, I may not get another chance to make it back to Kolkata in late January for the fair. In the meantime, I’m making do hitting up local bookstores, making my suitcase heavier, book by book.
[Now reading Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond by Pankaj Mishra]Posted by Anirvan