When Japanese development worker Naomi Watanabe based her master’s thesis on Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1989, she did not dream in her wildest imagination that someday she would develop an expertise to express her feelings in Bangla, let alone publish books in Bangla. But this is exactly what happened. Naomi Watanabe penned nine books since 2014 — all are available at the fair.
A Law graduate from Niigata University of Japan, Naomi later embarked on an extensive research which aroused her interest in delving deep into this land of language movement and a people who sacrificed so much for the rights to uphold their mother tongue as the state language, she told New age.
Naomi Watanabe set sail for Bangladesh in 2009 to work as a volunteer in a Japanese NGO that worked on the development of a Bangladeshi village which strengthened her ties with Bangla and Bangladesh, she pointed out.
Naomi wrote about her life in Bangladesh in her first Bangla titled ‘Japito Jibone Amar Bangladesh’, published in 2014. In the last five years Naomi published nine books that are available at Amar Ekushey Book Fair. All the titles have been put out from the publishing house Biswa Sahitya Bhaban.
Her second volume in Bangla ‘Ami Kothai Darabo’, which is about her uncertainty regarding whether to follow Bangladeshi and Japanese lifestyles, alongside this year’s entry ‘Rupantorer Kothokota’, published from the same house, testify to her dedication to Bangla.
Biswa Sahitya Bhaban publisher Tofazzal Hossain said Naomi’s atypical interest in Bangladesh and independence prompt him to publish her books in the last five years.
Currently working in a Bangladesh-Japan joint venture, Naomi also translated some children’s literature from Japanese to Bangla.
However, her formal lessons on Bangla started when she came to the country in 2009 and common people ranging from shopkeeper to bus drivers’ assistants helped her learn the language.
Naomi said she considered Bangladesh as her second home and Bangla second language and she also feel especially indebted to Bangladesh Betar since she regularly listens to its broadcast to strengthen her grip on Bangla language.
Naomi Watanabe also said that she believed Japan is Bangladesh’s best friend and most common characteristic between peoples of the two countries are the fact that they love nature and their publications also illustrate their affection for nature.
She also said that most important part of Bangla language and Bangladesh’s culture is diversity as geographically and historically the language was enriched when it came in touch with various different cultures.
Naomi said that she is mainly focused on writing stories on the crisis of the middle-class people and their emotions, she would love to translate more children’s literature from Bangladesh and Japan.
On Bangla academy’s roster, paying tribute to the cultural icons is an imperative in the month February. On Monday, the academy organised a discussion on Nrityaguru Bulbul Chowdhury.
This year, around 770 units have been allocated to 499 publishing houses and organisations to sell and exhibit their books and publications.
Additionally, 24 pavilions have been also allocated to the publishing houses and 155 stalls allocated to 180 little magazines.
The stalls of the mainstream publishing houses have been placed inside the Suhrawardy Udyan while government organisations and the Bangla Academy occupy the Bangla Academy compound.
The fair remains open for visitors from 3:00pm to 8:30pm.
On holidays, the fair will run from 11:00am to 8:30pm. On February 21, however, the fair will open at 8:00am and would continue till 8:30pm.
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