Publishing in Bangladesh: Is Covid-19 damaging the good and amplifying the problematic?
A view of the industry, its fault lines, and pockets of resistance, all brought into sharp focus by the pandemic.
There are two versions of the story of publishing in Bangladesh. The official version, tokenised every year during the month-long Ekushey Boi Mela, trumpets the Bangladeshi exceptionalism of a well-read country with a rich cultural and literary heritage. According to this version, publishers are in rude health; every citizen is a reader, every other citizen is a poet.
But if we take a closer look at this façade, it falls away at the most basic interrogation to reveal another version. Publishing in Bangladesh is a battle against creative censorship – censorship by many covert means through a combination of operational factors and conditions imposed on an informal industry. The robustness that should come with the healthy development of an essential sector is missing.