Fiction writer Faizul Islam started writing fiction in 1989. Long story is his forte. So far he has written six collections of stories under the titles Nakshatrer Ghora, Khowaj Khijirer Sinduk, Ayna, Nilkhete Keno Jai, Bakhtiar Khaner Cycle and Ghumtrishna and a novel titled boys school group. In addition, he occasionally writes articles on literature and culture.
In a recent interview with New Age, he talked about his new book, shared his thoughts on the Amar Ekushey Book Fair and more.
New Age: How many of your books were published at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair this year? What do you think of them?
Faizul Islam: My new short story collection named Ghumtrishna is now available at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. It was published by Katahprakash. This is my seventh book, which contains five stories. It is known that the social relationship between a woman and a man takes multiple forms in varying degrees, from union to separation, from betrayal to devotion, from monogamy to promiscuity. This book has attempted to address some of the forms of social association between women and men. As readers buy the book at the book fair, I feel extraordinary joy.
New Age: How to make the book fair livelier?
Faizul Islam: It is important to ensure interaction between authors and readers. Bangla Academy invites literati to interact with readers in a Q&A session every day. Some television and radio stations also broadcast live programs about new arrivals. I think publishers should follow in the footsteps of Bangla Academy and hold face-to-face interviews between writers and readers. They can hold such programs either at the designated corner of the Bangla Academy or in front of their stalls or pavilions.
New Age: Amar Ekushey Book Fair is not only a book fair but also provides livelihood support to hundreds of people involved in the publishing industry from proofreading to bookbinding. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Faizul Islam: Publishers do not hire proofreaders or binders themselves and draw on labor from the existing market, which is highly competitive in nature. Workers, to survive fierce competition, offer to work for low wages; and publishers take full advantage of it. The working poor do not file complaints even if the minimum wage rule is violated. This inhumane practice can be minimized through regulations and options for active unions.
New Age: How to make the books published at the book fair accessible to readers throughout the year?
Faizul Islam: Nowadays, online sales are gaining momentum. Online outlets might be the most effective solution to this problem.
Second, publishers may prefer to post reviews on their own websites. Third, there could be promotion companies whose job it is to promote the products in several ways. It is best for publishers to seek professional help in selling their products. Typically, publishers are content to operate at break-even and then avoid paying royalties.
New Age: Did you witness any impact of Covid on book sales at this year’s book fair?
Faizul Islam: Well, people have become aware of wearing masks these days. Fortunately, in this season, the contagion has already diminished. Thus, we see a good number of potential readers visiting the fair every day. This year, large publishers are reported to be seeing higher sales compared to the volume they got last year. However, the publishing industry is full of small publishers who have lost their share over the past year, and this year they are trying to attract readers. Ultimately, the volume of profits may vary depending on the size of the publishers.
New Age: We would like to know your opinion on the shortlisting of your book Bakhtiar Khaner Cycle for the Gemcon Literary Award 2021.
Faizul Islam: A writer always yearns to get feedback on his work. She or he is also waiting to hear from readers and critics. A shortlist is one of these types of comments. The good thing is that a group of advanced readers have read the books in the long list. They evaluate the merits and demerits of the books concerned, then draw up the shortlist. It’s a chance for a writer to see that experts evaluate the work. I really feel joy.