Kolkata: The much awaited 43rd Kolkata International Book Fair will kickstart on January 31 in the City of Joy.  The fair will be formally inaugurated at the Central Park, Salt Lake by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, ending the year-long wait for many book lovers.

The focal theme country of this year's book fair is ‘Guatemala’. So,   February 1 would be celebrated as the ‘Guatemala Day’ with Giovanni Castillo, the ambassador of Guatemala and renowned Guatemalan author Euda Morales in attendance. 

Keeping with the theme, the two main entrances of the ten-day long fair would be inspired by Guatemalan architecture.

Booksellers and Publishers Guild, the organisers of the fair Tridip Chatterjee said that 26 countries would participate at the 2019 book fair, making it one of the largest in the country.

He also said that with an approximate budget of Rs 2.5 crore this year as many as 600 book stalls would be set up in the fair in addition to about 200 more for a little magazine.

"There would altogether be 9 entry and exit gates for the smooth movements of millions of book lovers who would throng the fairground every day," he said adding that 190 shuttle bus services would be available from different points in the city including those from Sealdah, Ultadanga and Howrah stations along with, Garia, Behala, and Shyambazar terminus to the Mela Ground.

Arrangements for free medical assistance for the sick would be provided at the fairground, he informed further. A special “CESC Srishti Samman” would be given to the well known Bengali novelist Manishankar Mukhopadhyay, better known as Shankar.  

Over two million visitors are expected to attend the event including 65 authors from countries such as UK, Scotland, Italy, Russia, Bangladesh.

This year’s fair would also mark the 50th anniversary of the famous Satyajit Ray movie ‘Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen’. Several authors from the backward regions would be encouraged. 

The three Halls of the fair would also be named after Nirendranath Chakraborty, Dibendu Palit, Atin Bandyopadhyay, all of passed away recently, while the little Magazine Pavilion will be named after Pinaki Thakur.