‘World’s biggest book fair’ in Tehran

Tehran: The 27th Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) was inaugurated in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Prayer Grounds (Mosalla) Tuesday morning.

In every direction are colourful literary and academic displays, poetry readings, impromptu book groups, schoolboy choirs singing popular and religious songs, Spider-Man face-painting, living statues, coffee shops and ice cream, and enormous, buzzing crowds of visitors.

There are conscript soldiers, morality police, daring young women with headscarves pulled back almost behind their ears, periodic calls to prayer broadcast from the Mosallah grand mosque (mostly unanswered), and above all, tens of thousands of books of every description, from novels to policy papers, presented on 7,000 stalls and booths by about 3,000 publishers and exhibitors.

With an estimated daily attendance of 500,000 people drawn from all over the country, the 10-day Tehran international book fair is a mixture of carnival, festival and earnest debate – a place for the celebration of Persia’s literature, history and science, and for the serious expression of modern Iran’s aspirations.

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