The Colombo International Book Fair which opened on Saturday is an event eagerly looked forward to by readers, students, teachers, and administrators of libraries. Some even collect money in tills by putting aside a small amount every day right through the year to buy books at the Fair. The handsome discounts offered are a boon particularly for libraries that can utilize their limited resources to make the maximum purchases.
The Book Fair attracts many foreign publishers too, including several Indian publishers. There are also publishers from Malaysia, Singapore and Pakistan taking part. For the first time, this year there is a publisher from Columbia, among the 45 foreign participants.
The entire BMICH complex will be a hive of activity till the 27th. There are 417 stalls at this year's Fair with 212 publishers taking part. A lot of planning has gone into the Fair that is being held for the 11th year by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers' Association. A number of publishers have come forward to sponsor the event with M.D. Gunasena being the principal sponsor.
Several activities connected with books and writers take place during the Fair Week. Book launches are a common feature. The Book Publishers' Association selects the best novel of the year for the 'Swarna Pusthaka Award'. The finalists this year were Rev. Batuwangala Rahula Thera, Professor Chandrasiri Palliyaguru, Sunethra Rajakarunanayake, Karunadasa Suriyarachchi and Cathelene Jayawardena.
Sarasavi Publishers have invited authors with whom they work for a get-together today.
Meet Gunadasa Amarasekera at the Book Fair
It's heartening to note that Sri Lanka's foremost literary figure, Gunadasa Amarasekera, now in his 80th year, is still busy writing. He has been writing for six decades.
He is ready with his latest creative effort, 'Ataramaga', the eighth volume of his story on the evolution of the Sinhala middle class.
A Visidunu publication, the book will be formally launched at the Book Fair on Saturday, September 26. Before that on Tuesday, September 22, literary enthusiasts will have a rare opportunity of meeting him at the Visidunu stalls (C 161-163) between 3.30 and 6.30 in the afternoon. They will be able to get his books including the new publication, autographed by him.
Along with 'Atararamaga', seven other volumes on the same theme have also been published as special commemorative issues of the 'Amarasekera Retrospect Year' which began last November to mark his 80th birthday. 'Gamanaka Mula', ' Gam Dorin Eliyata', 'Ini Mage Ihalata', 'Vankagiriyaka', 'Yali Maga Vetha', 'Duru Rataka Dukata Kiriyaka' and 'Gamanaka Meda' are the other titles.
The launch of the new book at the Fair will be presided over by renowned novelist K. Jayatilleka. Delivering orations will be Professor Tissa Kariyawasam (who has just been honoured with the title 'Sahityaratna' in recognition of his lifelong service to literature) and Professor Daya Amarasekera of the Faculty of Sociology at the Peradeniya University
The Amarasekera Retrospect Year programme will continue until November 2009.
It has been hard work for Visidunu chief Gevindu Cumaratunga to see that all Gunadasa Amarasekera publications have now come out as reprints and are readily available. His silent service is of immense benefit to the progress of Sinhala literature - something that everyone of us should appreciate.