The Book Fair is finally here. Book fairs in Brunei are a mixed affair. I don't know whether this is a reflection of our society as a whole or is it because of our small size or something else. I have been to book fairs in other parts of the world. There all I see are books and many and many more books. In Brunei, I see books but I also see computers, compasses and carpets among the book sellers. Well.... One can stretch the definition of knowledge to include computers but one would really be hard pressed to think how other items can constitute part of book fairs.
Anyway, anakbrunei.org has written a nice piece about the book fair complete with nicely taken photographs (like the one I borrowed here), so you can link here if you want to see the fair in pictorial form and deciding whether you want to come. This year the book fair in Brunei is a dual purpose place. You can see books and you can workout at the same time - the place is turning into a sauna - the indoor stadium's aircond compressors are not working. It was that humid.
That aside. Even though in Brunei, I have stopped commenting about the poor selection of books and like me, most Brunei readers have turned to the internet to shop for their books despite the high postage costs - but believe it or not, there are still gems to be found at the book fair. The one thing you will never find on the internet are local books on Brunei and there are plenty to be found here at the Book Fair. For instance, you can get the entire 27 year series of the Brunei Museum Journals for $120 enabling you to capture at one shot what has been done in the Brunei's archaeological world ($80 for the 1969 to 1988 series) and the remainder 1989 to 1997 series are at $7.50 each). The Museum Department has also revamped their books - the newer ones are more modern looking and their contents too are worthwhile reading.
The Historical Centre also has many interesting books at their booth but I have bought every single one of them over these years. I managed to find a gem - the History of Mosques in Brunei printed in 1993 - at the Pusat Dakwah Islamiah booth. This three inch thick hard cover book is full of historical photographs about the history of mosques in Brunei. It even has photographs of the mosque officials and I was pleasantly surprised to see my late father in law's photograph in it. For such a book it only cost $10.50.
The Dewan Bahasa booth is one of the largest booths. I have talked about Dewan Bahasa before, so I won't talk about them again. The DBP has tried hard to sell local writers' books. I have read a few though I have to admit that I have not turned into a DBP Malay novels convert just yet. But I love the reference books which DBP has churned out lately. Did you know that you can now buy a Tutong-Brunei language dictionary ($5.40)? Or Kedayan-Brunei dictionary ($4.50)? Or even a book about the Belait language (Struktur Bahasa Belait by Noor Alifah Abdullah for $4.00)? Or the names and descriptions of local fruits (Glosari Nama Buah-Buahan $8.40)? Or how many Begawan Sultans were there in Brunei since 1363 (Ririsej Brunei Darussalam by Yura Halim for $2.50)? There are many local gems like that in the DBP booth.
I have almost got everything that the Book Fair has to offer over the last two days. I still have a list of local books which I saw but I have not yet bought. I still have until 6th March, and that means you have until 6th March too. See you there.