Just when I had become accustomed to feeling that something related to books would never let me down, it did and I have to blame the Karachi International Book Fair 2012 for it. I stood there, pretty much unable to believe my eyes. For yes, there were books and lots of it but none of them seemed to have gone through any kind of screening. It was like somebody had emptied their bookshelves of the kind that they were no longer interested in reading and held a book fair for it. And for someone who has been a frequent visitor of old book shops, the disappointment at beholding such a sight said something.
The joy of being in the company of literature is unexplainable. It’s like meeting an invaluable mentor, someone you have looked up to for years and someone who can instil in you a sense of awareness without batting an eyelid. Going to KIBF 2012 was akin to having a fan of The Beatles over at a gig by One Directions. Painful.
Thronged heavily and yet lacking in substance, the Fair had little to offer to someone who was in search of a variety of not only books but of publishers, of stories and of languages. The sheer joy of coming with books that you will be hard pressed to find in any of the mainstream shops was missing. Liberty Books probably had the most happening stall but with shops in every nook and corner of the city, does one really need to wait for an annual event?
An entire hall and majority of the rest of the two halls were devoted to religious books and while it doesn’t really make sense to criticize that but again it defeated the purpose of bringing in inter-cultural diversity, if I am not mistaken in believing that the I in KIBF actually stood for International and not Islamic, that is.
The Book Fair might have been an enjoyable experience for people who were looking for widely available books at slightly reduced prices but for me it was just plain unfair.