The traditional, month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair observed moderate presence from the book-lovers and litterateurs, due to the opening day formalities.
Although the number of crowd slowly lit up the festive mode in the late afternoon and evening till 8pm - the ground was not heavily crowded.
While many stalls had already started selling books on the inaugural day, a large number of stalls are either half-done or semi-done, which are expecting to be ready within the morning of the second day.
“We are not getting massive crowd on the first Sunday,”
When asked about the atmosphere, Tanjila, a student of the College of Home Economics, said “The fair was centered only the Bangla Academy in previous years, and sometimes it felt overcrowded. Ever since it started to share the Sohrawardi Ground, the fair started to feel fresh and more ‘breathable’- and we came today despite all the stalls are not fully complete, but could not wait as we awaited a full year to welcome this fair”.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially inaugurated the month-long fair on Sunday afternoon.
Breaking the habit, this year’s fair began on February 2 instead of February 1, due to the Dhaka North and South City Corporation Elections.
The fair will remain open from 3pm to 8:30pm on weekdays, from 11am to 8:30pm on weekends, and from 8am to 9pm on February 21 – International Mother Language Day, according to the organisers.
This year, the month-long festivity is scheduled to sign-off on February 29, as this year’s February is a leap-year.
Also, this year’s fair is dedicated to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, marking the occasion of his birth centenary as the Mujib-Borsho (Mujib-Year).
Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning "Queen of Suspense" whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world's most popular writers, died Friday at age 92.
Her publisher, Simon & Schuster, announced that she died of natural causes in Naples, Florida.
"Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did," her longtime editor Michael Korda said in statement. "She understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read — and, perhaps more important, what they didn't want to read — and yet she managed to surprise them with every book."
Widowed in her late 30s with five children, she became a perennial bestseller over the second half of her life, writing or co-writing "A Stranger Is Watching," "Daddy's Little Girl" and more than 50 other favorites. Sales topped 100 million copies and honors came from all over, including a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from France or a Grand Master statuette back home from the Mystery Writers of America. Many of her books, like "A Stranger is Watching" and "Lucky Day," were adapted for movies and television. She also collaborated on several novels with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark.
Mary Higgins Clark specialized in women triumphing over danger, such as the besieged young prosecutor in "Just Take My Heart" or the mother of two and art gallery worker whose second husband is a madman in "A Cry in the Night." Clark's goal as an author was simple, if rarely easy: Keep the readers reading.
"You want to turn the page," she told The Associated Press in 2013. "There are wonderful sagas you can thoroughly enjoy a section and put it down. But if you're reading my book, I want you stuck with reading the next paragraph. The greatest compliment I can receive is, 'I read your darned book 'til 4 in the morning, and now I'm tired.' I say, 'Then you get your money's worth.'"
Her own life taught her lessons of resilience — strengthened by her Catholic faith — that she shared with her fictional heroines. She was born Mary Higgins in 1927 in New York City, the second of three children. She would later take the last name Clark after marriage. Her father ran a popular pub that did well enough for the family to afford a maid and for her mother to prepare meals for strangers in need. But business slowed during the Great Depression, and her father, forced to work ever longer hours as he laid off employees, died in his sleep in 1939. One of her brothers died of meningitis a few years later. Surviving family members took on odd jobs and had to rent out rooms in the house.
Clark had always loved to write. At age 6, she completed her first poem, which her mother proudly requested she recite in front of the family. A story she wrote in grade school impressed her teacher enough that Clark read it to the rest of the class. By high school, she was trying to sell stories to True Confessions magazine.
After working as a hotel switchboard operator — Tennessee Williams was among the guests she eavesdropped on — and a flight attendant for Pan American, she married Capital Airways regional manager Warren Clark in 1949. Throughout the 1950s and into the '60s, she raised their children, studied writing at New York University and began getting stories published.
Some stories drew upon her experiences at Pan American. Another story, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, "Beauty Contest at Buckingham Palace," imagined a pageant featuring Queen Elizabeth II, Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco. But by the mid-60s, the magazine market for fiction was rapidly shrinking and her husband's health was failing; Warren Clark died of a heart attack in 1964.
Clark quickly found work as a script writer for "Portrait of a President," a radio series on American presidents. Her research inspired her first book, a historical novel about George and Martha Washington. She was so determined that she began getting up at 5 a.m., working until nearly 7 a.m. before feeding her children and leaving for work.
"Aspire to the Heavens" was published in 1969. It was "a triumph," she recalled in her memoir "Kitchen Privileges," but also a folly. The book's publisher was sold near the release date and it received little attention. She regretted the title and learned that some stores placed the book in religious sections. Her compensation was $1,500, minus commission. Decades later, the novel would be reissued, far more successfully, as "Mount Vernon: A Love Story."
For her next book, she wanted to make some money. Following a guideline she would often suggest to other writers, she looked at her bookshelves, which featured novels by Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and other mystery writers, and decided she should write the kind of book she liked to read. A recent tabloid trial about a young woman accused of murdering her children gave her an idea.
"It seemed inconceivable to most of us that any woman could do that to her children," Mary Clark wrote in her memoir. "And then I thought: Suppose an innocent young mother is convicted of the deliberate murder of her two children; suppose she gets out of prison on a technicality; and then suppose seven years to the day, on her 32nd birthday, the children of her second marriage disappear."
In September 1974, she sent her agent a manuscript for "Die a Little Death," acquired months later by Simon & Schuster for $3,000. Renamed "Where are the Children?" and released in 1975, it became her first bestseller and began her long, but not entirely surprising, run of success. She would allege that a psychic had told her she would become rich and famous.
Clark, who wrote well into her 90s, more than compensated for her early struggles. She acquired several homes and for a time owned part of the New Jersey Nets. She was among a circle of authors, including Lee Child and Nelson DeMille, who regularly met for dinner in Manhattan. She also had friends in Washington and was a White House guest during the presidential administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Barbara Bush became a close friend.
Married since 1996 to former Merrill Lynch Futures CEO John J. Conheeney, Clark remembered well the day she said goodbye to hard times. It was in April 1977, and her agent had told her that Simon & Schuster was offering $500,000 for the hardcover to her third novel, "A Stranger is Watching," and that the publisher Dell was paying $1 million for the paperback. She had been running her own script production company during the day and studying for a philosophy degree at Fordham University at night, returning home to New Jersey in an old car with more than 100,000 miles on it.
"As I drove onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, the tailpipe and muffler came loose and began dragging on the ground. For the next 21 miles, I kur-plunked, kur-plunked, all the way home," she wrote in her memoir. "People in other cars kept honking and beeping, obviously sure that I was either too stupid or too deaf to hear the racket.
"The next day I bought a Cadillac!"
Artist Rubina Akhter’s month-long solo art exhibition ‘Mystery & Light’ began on Friday at the city's Radius Centre, Bay’s Galleria in Gulshan Avenue.
The month-long exhibition opened formally at 6:30pm at the venue.
Being a renowned artist, interior and fashion designer, and acclaimed for her works in ‘Nakshi Kantha’ craft- Rubina’s talent in the creative realm is diverse and multidimensional.
She completed her BFA from Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and completed Diploma in Fashion Designing from Kalawin School of Fashion Designing, Bangkok, Thailand.
Rubina previously participated in many renowned art exhibitions, including “MA” - Women in Art (an All Women Group Painting Exhibition on the occasion of Independence Day) in March, 2019 and ‘Prachcher Pracheen Dhara’ (The Ancient Lineage of The East) in October, 2019 - arranged by Gallery Cosmos.
The exhibition will remain open for all every day from 10am to 6pm till February 29 at Radius Centre, 5th floor, Bay's Galleria, 57 Gulshan Avenue, Gulshan-1 in Dhaka.
The annual Amar Ekushey book fair on the Bangla Academy premises and the adjacent areas will commence in a grand way hosting the highest number publications.
Bangla Academy disclosed details of the fair at a press conference at the academy on Thursday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the event on the first day.
Ten personalities have been chosen for Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar (Bangla Academy Literary Award) 2019.
They are – former Home Minister Rafiqul Islam (Literature on Liberation War), Makid Haider (poetry), Wasi Ahmed (literature), Swarochish Sarkar (essay/research), Khairul Alam Sabuj (translation), Rahim Shah (children’s literature), Ratan Siddiqui (drama), Nadira Majumder (science fiction), Faruk Moinuddin (autobiography/travelogue) and Simon Zakaria (folklore).
Prime Minister Hasina will distribute the award among the recipients at the inaugural ceremony.
This year, the fair is set to begin on February 2 instead of February 1 due to elections to two Dhaka city corporations.
The month-long book fair is arranged every year in February commemorating the sacrifices of people who laid down their lives on February 21, 1952 for establishing Bangla as mother tongue.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings on the day when students came out in a procession from Dhaka University campus defying section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan.
Bangla Academy Director and Member Secretary of the fair organising committee Jalal Ahmed said necessary steps have been taken to make the fair more acceptable and accessible.
He said the organisers have been working hard to support the publishers for smooth installation earlier.
He said the fair will be dedicated to Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman while his life and works will be showcased in the fair in different ways marking his birth centenary.
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day from February 3 to 29 followed by cultural events. The seminars will hold discussions on Bangabandhu and books written on his life and works.
Like the previous years, the venue has been extended to nearby Suhrawardy Udyan.
This year, the land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 8,00,000 sq ft. A total of 873 units were allocated to the 560 organisations.
The authorities have allotted 179 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 126 organisatons and 694 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 694 organisations.
The fair venue was first extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more participants.
There will be strict security arrangements in and around the venue to avert any unpleasant incidents.
Publishers from across the country will come at the fair with a wide variety of books while Bangla Academy will exhibit 104 newly printed and reprinted books.
Director General of Bangla Academy Habibullah Siraji said Bangla Academy is ready to arrange an organised and decorated mega event for the book lovers for a month.
He said the academy has set the theme of the fair as ‘Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu' as it is a very big opportunity for them to arrange the book fair focusing the theme.
He also sought assistance from the publishers, book lovers and visitors to keep the fair vibrant and clear.
Kabi Jasimuddin Sahitya Puruskar 2020’ for contribution to Bengali literature, ‘Chittaranjan Saha Memorial Award’, ‘Munir Chowdhury Smriti Puraskar 2020’, ‘Rokanuzzaman Khan Dadabhai Smrity Award-2020’, and Artist Qayyum Chowdhury memorial award for showing artistic acumen at stall building will be announced in the fair.
The fair began informally in 1972 on Bangla Academy premises but the academy officially took the responsibility in 1978 to organise the book fair every year.
It was then named as ‘Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela’ and a guideline was laid out in this regard in 1984.
The fair will remain open from 3pm to 8:30pm on weekdays, from 11am to 8:30pm on weekends, and from 8am to 9pm on February 21 – International Mother Language Day, according to the organisers.
During a trip to Mexico to visit family, writer Myriam Gurba took "American Dirt," a novel about immigration and cartel violence that was being touted as one of the biggest U.S. releases of 2020. The writer was of mostly white descent, and Gurba felt the book didn't ring true.
"I was reading the book in Parque Revolución in Guadalajara. I'd look up and see real Mexico," said Gurba, of Long Beach, California. "I'd look down back at the book and see fake Mexico."
Since before its publication, "American Dirt," by Jeanine Cummins, garnered suspicion and criticism from many Latino writers and activists at the same time — and partly because — it was being heralded by many in the book community as a vital new work on the Southern border crisis. It was praised by novelist Don Winslow as a modern "Grapes of Wrath."
The novel has become a flashpoint in debates over who gets published, how reputations are formed, and who can tell which stories in an industry — from publishers and editors to booksellers and agents — that is predominantly white.
Nicolas Kanellos, founder and publisher of Houston-based Arte Publico Press, the largest publisher of Hispanic literature in the U.S., said a lot of the anger stems from the exclusion of Latino writers by major publishers.
"This has been going on for decades and these New York publishers don't get it," said Kanellos.
Cummins, author of three previous books, has faced criticism for previously identifying as white but mentioning her Puerto Rican grandparent as the novel got closer to publication. "You don't get to bring out your Puerto Rican abuela when it's convenient," said Daisy Hernández, a Colombia American writer who teaches writing at Miami University of Ohio and wrote a 2014 memoir, "A Cup of Water Under My Bed."
In the past, some white writers have received acclaim for their portrayal of Latinos in the U.S. Edna Ferber, a Michigan-born Jewish novelist, was widely admired by some Latinos for her portrayal of Mexican Americans in her 1952 novel "Giant." She interviewed civil rights leaders Dr. Hector P. Garcia and John J. Herrera in her research into discrimination in Texas. John Steinbeck enjoyed a following among Mexican Americans for his stories set in Northern California.
And in 1974, California-born John Nichols was praised for his novel "The Milagro Beanfield War," which explored the complicated relationship between Hispanics and whites in northern New Mexico and the battle over water rights.
Others, like T. C. Boyle and D.H. Lawrence, faced criticism for stereotypical portrayal of Latinos.
Bernadine Hernández, an English professor at the University of New Mexico, said that since those earlier books, colleges have introduced Chicano Studies and created a more critical Latino reading audience.
"It's also coming at a time when Latinos are more sensitive and critical readers," she said. "We can go to social media and express it."
Gurba accused the big publishers of "librotrafficking," comparing them to a cartel that controls who gets to tell Latino stories. Her scathing review of "American Dirt," in which she accuses Cummins of appropriating works by Latinos, went viral.
"American Dirt," published last week, tells the story of a Mexican woman and her 8-year-old son fleeing to the U.S. border after a drug cartel kills the rest of their family. It has been in the top 10 on Amazon.com for the past week, and has been praised by authors ranging from John Grisham and Stephen King to noted Latina authors Erika Sanchez and Sandra Cisneros.
Then Oprah Winfrey offered one of publishing's most cherished honors: endorsement for her book club. Some Latino celebrities posted selfies with the book; Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek later apologized for promoting "American Dirt" without having read it after she was attacked on social media.
In a video posted last weekend on Instagram, Winfrey said she now realizes the book struck "an emotional chord" with Latinos and created a need for deeper conversation. Winfrey wants to hold a discussion on the politics of publishing for an Apple TV special in March.
In a statement, Sanchez, author of "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter," said Monday that she blurbed the book only after she saw that Cummins identified as Puerto Rican. "What's resulted is not at all what I expected, obviously," Sanchez said, adding that she was taking a break from social media.
Latino critics say ``American Dirt'' contains stereotypes, incorrect regional slang, and cultural inaccuracies.
Cummins confided in the book's afterword that she didn't know if she was the right person to write the book. She has told The Associated Press she spent extensive time in Mexico and met with many people on both sides of the border. "So many of the stories center on violent men and macho violent stories about people who commit atrocities," she said. "My hope was to reframe the narrative and show it from the point of view of the people on the flip side of violence."
Still, Latino anger hit a crescendo on social media after Gurba posted an image of a release party from last year that featured barbed wire centerpieces. Cummins, referencing the blue and white barbed wire art on the book's cover, posted an image of it painted on fingernails.
Some Latinos are organizing gatherings to challenge Cummins at planned readings. So far, at least four events have been canceled, in part over security concerns. The Houston-based Blue Willow Bookshop, which was scheduled to host Cummins next week, announced Tuesday it was canceling the planned event. Tony Diaz, a Mexican American novelist in Houston, had promised to organize a protest outside.
"There has been a growing controversy around this book, with concerns focusing on cultural appropriation and stereotypes, among other things," the bookstore tweeted. "We are listening."
Matt Sedillo, a Los Angeles-based poet and author of "Mowing Leaves of Grass," said publishers need to make room for Latinos today or risk going out of business tomorrow. "Until then, we are going to have to build our own networks outside of the big publishers," Sedillo said. "And then they will come begging for us."