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Rare books on Islam, Buddhism a hit at South Asian stalls


Wednesday, February 03, 2010 09:05:53 PM, Shweta Srinivasan, IANS

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New Delhi: Works on Islam and Buddhism are a big hit at stalls put up by publishers from South Asian countries at the World Book Fair here. Many avid book readers and scholars are happy to have spotted rare books that are not easily available in India.


At the pavilion for foreign exhibitors at the 19th New Delhi World Book Fair, two stalls by a private publisher from Pakistan and the Iqbal Academy Pakistan are doing brisk business although the government-aided National Book Foundation of Pakistan pulled out of the book exhibition which culminates Feb 7.


"On the first two days, we saw good business, on the third day there was less crowd but we have picked since then. We have mostly students, scholars, booksellers coming to us, asking us for books on Islam, Sufism, Pakistan's history," Saira Bano from the Royal Book Company told IANS.


Many scholars and even maulvis made their way to the stall by Iqbal Academy of Pakistan for rare books not available easily in India.


"I came looking for this book on Iqbaiat (poetry by Pakistan's reknowned poet Iqbal) which I couldn't find here. I have found it here," said Sijad, a student of Islamic Studies at Delhi University.


A maulvi, who did not want to be identified, said: "The fair is a good place to find rare interpretations of the Quran and other Islamic texts."


Apart from the prominent stalls from Pakistan, others by Nepal and Sri Lanka also attracted a lot of interest although they are just displaying the books.


Several visitors showed interest in books on Buddhism at the Sri Lanka Book Publisher's Association (SBPA).


"This year we thought of bringing our books on Buddhism to India. People are very interested in Buddhism all over South Asia, and there is a variety of literature from Sri Lanka that is available at this stall. Many people have come in just for that.


"We also have books on Peace and Conflict apart from Jataka Tales (sacred Buddhist literature) as well as Sinhalese books for children," said Lakshmi Bandara from SBPA told IANS.


Many people who had come to the fair hoping to find books on tourism in Sri Lanka and Nepal were, however, disappointed.


"I came to get tourism books thinking they will have that, but I haven't found any. I guess there are only books for heavy reading or of religious interest," said R.K. Shastri, who runs a travel agency.


Many migrants and students from Nepal have been coming to its National Booksellers and Publisher's Association looking for books on the political upheaval that the Himalayan country has witnessed in the past two years.


"Many have also come to us asking for books on the political situation, then there are some who are curious about tourism...Mostly it's youngsters coming to inquire. Indians seem to be more interested in Nepali books on culture, folklore and translations," said Maheshwor Mahat, the secretary of the association.


Bangladesh's National Book Centre (Jatio Grantho Kendro) stall is promoting the country's well known writers. The books however are only for display and not for sale.


"Before this, we had participated at the Calcutta Book Fair where we received a huge response. Even here many publishers have shown interest in authors like Nazrul Islam Sheikh, Mujib-ur-Rahman and also in Nobel prize winner Mohammed Yunis," Nassema Rahman told IANS.


This year, unlike last time, China is not participating in the fair, an official from the organiser National Book Trust said.






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