Saturday, 5 April 2008

And It's Only The First Day

I had some hopes for the biggest book fair held this year at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC). By the time I left the venue they were utterly dashed. Was I too early, or was the whole affair simply not what it was cracked up to be?

(And damn, the web site isn't very helpful either. You'd think that an e-portal for an event promoting literature and reading would have more details)

The timing sucked, for one. The fair coincided with Bank Rakyat's annual general meeting. The mob scene that confronted me was astounding, bringing me back to the days when the annual Microfest was a huge affair - not that it was any more pleasant. No way of telling who was attending what (although I'm sure the bevies of schoolgirls are most likely lured by the promise of cheaper textbooks). It was loud, chaotic, and somehow, vampiric. Fatigue quickly set in even before I reached the entrance.

My jaded worldview discerned a separation of society classes at the "book fair". The lower level was packed, crowds reaching sardine-can densities at the booths hawking textbooks, tabloids and comics. Plenty of religious material as well. The less-crowded upper level was where the more sophisticated choices were: dictionaries, literary fiction, various non-fiction titles and university-level reference materiel to name a few.

Sad. Tragic. I'm trying but I can't find the exact words for what I felt. This glimpse of Malaysia's literary strata paints a very depressing picture.

Sincerest apologies, but hosting multi-national publishing and distribution companies do not an international book fair make.

Oh, I did notice the hastily-corrected buntings:

Books Empowers.

Fear the Red Pen of Sharon Bakar™.

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