“You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book and you know that it is going to be a tragedy you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess
The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is a series of Shadow hunter books. This was also on a shelf at the Colombo International Book Fair. Definitely a wonderful series to read for those interested in fiction.
The Colombo International Book Fair 2016 is ongoing now until September 25 after it commenced with a grand opening ceremony on September 16. The chief guest for the event was Gayantha Karunatilleke, Minister for Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media.
It was a sunny day when scores of people headed to the BMICH to witness the therapy of living among books. The cheerful Miles Brohier, president of the Ceylon Booksellers, Importers and Exporters Association said: “There are millions of books being laid out, during the first four days and 600,000 people have visited the premises, five more days to go”.
He also excitedly stated that on Saturday (September 17) the book fair was open until 12 midnight as the crowd was pouring in.
Brohier who is also a working committee member of the Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association stated that there are 410 book stalls and more than 40 foreign stalls.
There are books in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, English, Sinhala and Tamil. “You name it, you find it here” he added.
The most popular book which is being purchased and requested is titled Road to Nandikadal by General Kamal Gunaratne.
“The book is being demanded in all three languages and we are dumbfounded,” said Brohier.
There were some events organized by the British Council for kids. Storytelling was where kids flocked around. A Literary Event was organized by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association and several new books were launched in a separate stall as well.
There was little Isula Liyanage, wide-eyed staring at the books dragging his father to every nook and corner to gaze at the books. Ayesha Liyanage, little Isula’s mom stated: “We come here every year all the way from Gampaha. It’s my son’s first time, but I just love reading and this is my place of comfort”. She had a pile of books in her hand ready to be purchased some of which were titled Ramya Suramya, Siddhartha Palayai and Kulageying Kulageyata. It was quite evident she was a Sinhala literature lover.
The cheerful two youngsters Nethmi Jayawardena and Rukshan Haseem were galloping their way around the books. Both chimed in saying: “Da Vinci code is sold out but we were the lucky last owners of the stock”.
Nethmi who is an undergraduate of IIT stated that she was a fiction lover and spent all her collections on the mortal instruments series the day before. Talking to these two made us realise they’ve been visiting the book fair several days in a row.
When heading to the main building, the Buddhist Cultural Centre was overflowing. While stopping to take a look, Nalaka Bandara, the chief of staff of the stall said the best-selling book in their stall was the Mahavansa and the Pansiyapanas Jathaka Stories book.
Venerable Sugatha Rakkitha thera was peacefully reading through a book when we chimed in to know details. He said: “I’m buying books for the Royal Pandith examination and also for my temple library”.
While leaving the cultural centre, more crowds flowed in. Well, it must have been quite a day of sales for them.
The Senior Manager of Sarasavi Bookshop Nugegoda, Ranjan Perera said that the best-selling book at the Sarasavi book stall was Ahambakaraka by Liyanage Amarakeerthi.
Ahambakaraka is the Sinhala literary award winner for this year. According to Ranjan, over 10,000 book lovers have visited the stall and it was mostly adults with whom the kids tag along.
There were people from all walks of life and ages. It seemed as though books united everyone, where reading and feeling the adrenaline through living the book was the common focus. After walking through shelves and stalls of books and of course buying ourselves a few books, it was time to depart and bid goodbye to the Colombo International Book Fair.
It’s not too late to experience this wonderful event. Go, engulf in the warmth of books.
Books still speak.
(Pics by Eshan Dasanayaka)