The month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair, a yearly event for booklovers and publishers, began on the Bangla Academy premises and at adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan in the city on Friday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the book fair in the afternoon.
Two foreign guests -- Indian poet Shankha Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishi -- graced the opening ceremony and spoke as distinguished foreign guests. Due to the illness and as advised by doctors, the speech of Shankha Ghosh was read out by Ramendu Majumder.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid attended the opening ceremony as a special guest while Bangla Academy Director General poet Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech with its President Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman in the chair.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also distributed the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar-2018 at the opening ceremony.
Four writers and researchers won the award this time. The award winners are Poet Kazi Rosy for poetry, Mohit Kamal for literature, Syed Mohammad Shahed for essay and research and Afsan Chowdhury for research on Liberation War. The winners received a cheque of Tk 2 lakh each at the programme.
Sheikh Hasina also unveiled a book titled 'Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman' (Volume -2) at the opening ceremony.
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day from February 2 to 28 followed by cultural events.
Like the previous years, the venue of the fair was extended to nearby Suhrawardy Udyan with huge changes.
This year, the land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 550,000 square feet, 37,000 more than the previous year. A total of 770 units were allocated to 499 organisations
The authorities allotted a total of 150 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 104 organisatons and 620 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 395 organisations.
Last year, the authorities allotted a total of 719 units - 136 at the Bangla Academy ground to 92 organisatons and 583 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 363 organisations.
Besides, 24 pavilions have been allocated for 24 publishing houses, including Bangla Academy.
The fair will remain open from 3pm to 9pm (Sunday to Thursday) while it will remain open from 11am to 9pm on weekly holidays. On February 21, the fair will remain open from 8am to 8pm.