Chennai International Book Fair attracts participants across all continents!

The second edition of the ‘Chennai International Book Fair’(CIBF) is all set to take place from January 16-18, 2024. Janani Rajeswari. S shares excerpts from the interview with Dr Sankara Saravannan, Joint Director, Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation, an Official member of CIBF organising team.


Chennai International Book Fair 2024 will be held from January 16-18, 2024 at Chennai Trade Centre, Nandambakkam, Chennai. Here, Dr.Sankara Saravannan, Joint Director, TamilNadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation, an Official member of CIBF organising team, shares more about the fair.

AABP: Tell us about the highlights of CIBF 2024.

Dr Sankara: The second edition of CIBF will see nearly 40 countries participating from across the world. The first edition saw the participation of 25 countries that were mainly represented by their respective consulates. This year, publishers, authors and literary agents will be participating. This is mainly because of the impact of CIBF stall at Frankfurt Book Fair, that we had this year. During the event, our CIBF team met many publishers and authors. We also had the chance to visit stalls by various countries and personally invited them to CIBF. Thus, wide participation ensured this time.

AABP: Which countries are participating this time?

Dr Sankara: We have participants representing all continents. This will include USA, Canada, Brazil, France, Spain, Germany, UK, Lithuania, Albania, Senegal, Tanzania, New Zealand, Asian countries including Malayasia, Indonesia, Russia and Turkey. In addition, the U.S Consulate has also approached us to organise a book release event.

AABP: What has been the outcome of the MoUs signed during CIBF 2023?

Dr Sankara: Last year, we signed nearly 350 MoUs including inward and outward translations. Among these, eligible applicants for outward grant are being scrutinized. The Tamil Nadu translation grant is currently being processed. As a part of this, nearly 45 grants for more than 25 languages have been sanctioned. More than 50 are under scrutiny. Another 12 have been kept in the waiting list. These include countries that have not submitted their documents or have partially submitted them. Our aim is to translate 100 books this year. Those countries whose paperwork is complete and have begun translation work, are now designing the wrappers and synopsis. So, we plan to bring out a booklet featuring these books to be translated including the wrapper in the target language and synopsis in Tamil. M.K. Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, has increased the translation grant to Rs. 3 crore from Rs. 1.5 crore that was allocated last year. It was also observed there was a communication gap between the International and Tamil publishers last time. So, the Directorate of Public Libraries has trained 20 literary agents from Tamil Nadu, who will be part of the event this year, to ensure smooth and effective communication between the two.

AABP: Tell about the grants received for translation during CIBF 2023.

Dr Sankara: We have received around 6 or 7 inward translation grants, mainly due to the impact of CIBF. In particular, due to the efforts of Aazhi Senthil Nathan (CIBF – International consultant), Olivannan Gopalakrishnan (Emerald Publishers) and literary agent Ival Bharathi. Also, we have managed to get closer to the publishing industry from the Arab world, due to the efforts of Muhamad Ali, Everbest Media. Our representatives participated in the ‘Sharjah International Book Fair’ and have invited many countries including UAE and Egypt to CIBF 2024. Last year, we signed MoUs to translate Tamil works into Arabic. Zakhir Hussain is translating the poems of writer Bharathidasan into Arabic. Also, Tamil poet Vairamuthu’s ‘Third World War’ is also being translated into Arabic. We are also looking at translating some Turkish literature into Tamil. Both Kalachuvadu Publications and Edhir have been playing a crucial role in this regard. Mini Krishnan, Co-ordinating Editor of TNTBESC is also extending her help.

AABP: Tell us about the role of Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation (TNTBESC) in CIBF 2024.

Dr Sankara: As a co-organiser of the event, TNTBESC will play a pivotal role in organising the event along with the Directorate of Public Libraries. There are various seminars lined up for the event. In particular, Dr. Martha Selby, Professor of Sangam studies, South Asian Studies, Harvard will be addressing the gathering regarding taking Tamil literature to the world on the first day. We have also invited our co-publishers like Penguin India and Harper Collins to be part of the seminar. The second session will focus on highlighting regional publishing. Under a scheme, we are translating Tamil books into other Dravidian languages. There are regional editors for different languages: Prof. Sridhara (Kannada), Mrs. Geetha (Telugu), Mr. A. K. Thomas (Malayalam) who will be participating in the session about taking Tamil to other languages and vice-versa.

Global Literary Agents Programme: an update

With a view to develop Tamil literature, Government of Tamil Nadu has launched the Government-Certified Global Literary Agents Programme, a pioneering endeavour aimed at elevating the state’s literary presence in the global arena.

Elambahavath, Director of Public Libraries, shared insights into the programme’s inception during a conversation during the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier this year. He highlighted on the pressing need for literary agents in Tamil Nadu’s literary landscape, spurring the government to initiate this transformative programme.

Various colleges were intimated through social media and through written communication. The response was overwhelming with over 500 enthusiastic applicants students vying for the opportunity to become certified global literary agents. Twenty people including students and one journalist were selected after rigorous assessment of their literary knowledge and communication skills.

A 21-day training programme was conducted between mid-November and December. It covered a wide spectrum of skills, including learning about the history of Tamil literature, developing negotiation skills, inward and outward grants, copyright laws, author profile preparation, blurb and synopsis writing, and the integration of AI tools. Around six resource people including a literary agent from Turkey spearheaded the programme.

Upon completion, these 20 participants received official certification from the Government of Tamil Nadu, positioning them as valuable assets in promoting Tamil literature on the global stage.

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