Book lovers have continued to throng the Amar Ekushey Book Fair on holidays and weekends this year, with many seeking to respect the spirit of independence inspired by martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement.
However, while the spirit of independence seems to be alive and well in visitors to the fair, this is not reflected in the new books released.
Amir Sifat, a student of Rajshahi University, said he visits the fair when he sees news of corruption or other illicit activities, in order to reassure himself of the good people are capable of.
“Those who are involved in corruption are descendents of the people who did not want independence,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Khurshida Begum, a resident of Dhanmondi, was one of many to go to the fair with their children on Friday, as she sought to teach them about the Language Movement and the crucial role it played in Bangladesh’s independence. “Children’s hour” begins at 11am on weekends and she was keen to take advantage of this opportunity.
“This is the first time I came to the fair with my son. I showed him the ‘Moder Gorob’ mural of martyred language activists and also tried to introduce him to the history of the Bangla language,” she said.
Nevertheless, the Dhaka Tribune found that of 3,462 new books launched at this year’s fair as of February 22, only 12 among them were related to the Language Movement.
Furthermore, of 390 books released on February 21, the Language Martyrs’ Day, only one was related to the struggle for our mother tongue in 1952.
Language activist Rezaul Karim said: “This is a comparatively poor number of releases. Perhaps it will improve in the future.”
According to those responsible for releasing books at the fair, the main reason for the low number of books on the Language Movement was the skyrocketing demand for works of fiction.
Asking to remain anonymous, one publisher said: “Very few books on the language movement were released as the most of the demand is for mystery novels and story books.”
Among the books released at this year’s fair, poetry books have been the most common with 1,096 new releases. In addition, 516 novels, 514 story collections, and 62 books related to the Liberation War were also released.