A total of 365 books have been slated for translation by signing Memorandums of Understanding at the valedictory function of the Chennai International Book Fair on Wednesday.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin presided over the signing of 18 MoUs between foreign publishers and their Tamil counterparts. The Chief Minister handed over the Tamil translations of five medical books to medical students upon their release.

Ninety books would be translated from Tamil into international languages, 60 from Tamil to other Indian languages, 170 from international and Indian languages into Tamil and 45 from Indian languages, excluding Tamil, into international languages.

“This is the 46th Chennai Book Fair and for the first time in 46 years, we are hosting an international book fair in Chennai which has been the dream of pioneers in the field who have wished to bring global knowledge in Tamil for the Tamil people,” Mr. Stalin said.

He announced that translating Periyar’s work into 21 languages, Indian and international, had begun.

Hasri Hasan, a publisher from Malaysia, said he was thankful for the exposure and the opportunity to interact with fellow publishers and learn more about Tamil literature and writers through the book fair. “This MoU is one of the first steps we are taking to bring Tamil authors and their work to a global audience,” said Gnanaprakasam of Aazhi Publishing House, who signed an MoU with Turkey.

Many Indian and foreign publishers appreciated the efforts of the State government and said that this fair was one of the best international fairs they have attended recently. The public were prevented from visiting the stalls in the international fair during the ceremony and after as many stalls had begun closing for the day.

The international fair, organised by Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Service Corporation and the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India, will be on till January 22.

Publishers from over 20 countries, including Singapore, Oman, Canada, the United States, Uganda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates, are participating in the international fair.
T Vijayanand, a Singapore-based publisher and director of Crimson Earth publications told TNIE he had visited more than 50 countries and attended international book fairs. However, taking part in the first-of-its-kind event in Chennai is making him very happy.

“We are the third generation of our family in Singapore. Our aim is to take Tamil books across the world, because Tamil people are living in more than 80 countries. Many Tamils staying abroad are struggling even to read Tamil. So, more translators must step forward to translate as many books into Tamil, and distribute them worldwide,” he said.

Prema Vijayanand, a writer hailing from Singapore, added she had written short stories, novels, primary and secondary school books in Tamil using simple words that could be understood by beginners. “In the digital world, youngsters are enthusiastically developing their reading habits,” she said.

“Interestingly, people in European countries, the USA, and other places are searching for Tamil books for their children. Hence, the demand for Tamil books is high in all countries. Writers and publishers have to utilise the platform and provide as many titles to the readers,” she added.

She also pointed out translating Tamil books such as Purananooru, Silapathikaram, and Seevagasinthamani is also essential. She hopes the publishers and writers in Tamil Nadu will do it.

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