Pandemics are different from epidemics.

Epidemics are described as “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”

Pandemics have a geographical link.  “The word pandemic comes from Latin and Greek. Pan means all or across—in this case, it means across the globe. Demos means people or population. So pandemic refers to any disease that spreads across to many populations.”

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While the corona virus might sound worse than it actually is, some of the literary events across the world have been postponed to a happier future. The Paris Book Fair, the Leipzig Book Fair and the London Book Fair — all scheduled for this March — have been altogether cancelled. The Taipei Book Fair had  been moved from February to May and the Bologna Book Fair is postponed from March end to May.

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Tapei International Book Exhibition

Taiwan will hold an international book exhibition from February 4 th to 9th in the  Taipei World Trade Centre. This year Korea will be the guest of honour.

Last year more than half-a-million visitors peopled the fair. The fair was started in 1987 by the ministry of culture to give more opportunities for local writers and publishers to mingle across the globe.

This year, it will showcase 1 million books from 67 countries. The books cover a wide range of subjects — from manga to fiction, from academic titles to journalism.

At the start of September, the Bras Basah National Library in Singapore will be a hive of activities with writers, books, illustrators and publishers exhibiting their wares and holding workshops to celebrate the upcoming Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). The festival adopts “diversity” as its theme.

Organised by the Singapore Book Council, the tenth AFCC will feature 150 speakers, of who 104 are local and 47 are international. 

“AFCC has been championing diversity and Asian children’s books since its inception,” said the Executive Director of the Singapore Book Council, William Phuan, in a press release . “As we mark our 10th anniversary milestone, it is even more important that we continue to push to enrich the literary landscape with multicultural stories and diverse themes.” 

Indonesian Independence Day is observed on August 17. It is a celebration of their declaration of independence from Dutch colonizers in 1945. The country was finally granted independence by colonials in December 1949. Sukarno, the first President, opted to commemorate 17 th August 1945 as the independence day of Indonesia, though it wasn’t until 2005 that the Dutch finally accepted Sukarno’s declaration!

With Sukarno and Suharto, writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer also made a bid for independence as he felt, “Each injustice has to be fought against”. Toer also known as Pak Pram the freedom fighter and writer spent some years in jail and under house arrest for his outspoken writing, both under the Colonials and under Suharto in the island of Buru. He came up with the Buru Quartet and eventually was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1988. He died in 2006. A google doodle did  mark his ninety second birthday in 2017.IMG_0632

China is in the limelight again with Beijing announcing a children’s books expo to be held there this week, from July 17th to 23rd.

The first bi-lingual version of the J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, will be part of the available fare. In this version, the left page will have the story in English and the right in Chinese. Earlier, they had a monolingual Chinese version.

A popular Chinese Children’s novelist, Professor Cao Wenxuan of Peking University, recepient of the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award, also called the “Nobel Prize for children’s literature”, will be presenting his new mystery fare. A collection of children’s classics spanning the last thirty years by well-known writer Yin Jianling  will be nestling with other attractions presented in this expo.

The Seoul International Book Fair, started in 1954, claims to be the biggest event of its kind in Korea with participation of forty countries and 430 publishers, including Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Egypt and Indonesia. The guest of honor this year, at its twenty-fifth anniversary, was from Hungary.  

Hungarian Ambassador to Korea Mozes Csoma said in his opening speech: “Back in 1892, the Austro-Hungarian Empire already signed a treaty of amity with the Joseon Dynasty. Hungarian scholar Barathosi Balogh Benedek traveled the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century, and he hoped Hungarians would get to know more about Korea and Korean culture. Now I have a similar hope with his. I hope more Koreans get to know Hungarian culture and its literature.”