April 21, 2015

London Book Fair 2015

After the Tokyo Book Fair 2014 (which I still haven't blogged about) and the New Delhi Book Fair 2015, last week, between 14 to 16 of April 2015, I managed to attend the London Book Fair 2015. Unlike the Tokyo Book Fair 2014 and the New Delhi Book Fair 2015, I properly attend the three-day event as I was given the task by the owner of Fixi, Amir Muhammad, to help him to bring Malaysian publishers to the London Book Fair in 2016. We are determine to do it without government help as we think the London Book Fair can be a springboard to a lot of Malaysian publishers to break new territory.

It was one year, in 2014, after Fixi won the Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award at the International Book Industry Excellence Awards. Here is the Star newspaper coverage about Fixi win last year. It was a proud moment for Fixi and I had just joined Fixi. I now can claim to be one of Fixi's stable of writers with 2 short stories being accepted in their anthologies (Lost in Putrajaya and MF2014) and 2 Malay novels : Pinjam and Pentas. Here's my Goodreads link.

At the London Book Fair, where the business of books were conducted by business people, there were so many writers abound looking for opportunity. As you have to pay to get a badge, at GBP35, you know all that attended the London Book Fair were serious people. Unlike the other book fairs I attended, I planned to do so as well. I attended nearly most of the interesting forum, book launches, author's talk, technology briefing and pavilion's launches. Singapore have a pavilion which Amir said was getting bigger and bigger. Indonesia on account of being the guest country in October 2015's Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 (the biggest book fair in the world) had quite a big pavilion too.

Mexico was the Market Focus country for London Book Fair 2015 and had a huge pavilion. I managed to catch Elena Poniatowska, a famous Mexican writer; Chris Evans before he opened up the Club room, a frank discussion among translators from various countries about the fees they are getting paid for doing translations, a discussion by those who are bringing the Susanna Clarke's book : Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell  to television, a talk by Conchita Wurst and a few other talks which I managed to hear bits and pieces of. Some of these writers I only heard of for the first time although they looked adored by a few people.

Outside of London Book Fair, I managed to get into Amir Muhammad's good grace to be brought to meet the people from the Big Bad Wolf, a few od Indonesian filmmakers and we even had dinner with writers Tash Aw, Zen Cho and Lina Tan (a television producer). From Malaysia there were Ling Lung and his wife from Lejen Press with Syafiq, the writer for Ajaib and Awan and Fixi had Ariff Adly, the writer for Kacau and Gelap.

Needless to say, the sight, the sound and the experience at the London Book Fair 2015 left me wanting more and I hope I will be back next year.

Oh, Amir Muhammad and I did went to the British Library a day after the London Book Fair where we managed to sight the original manuscripts of Hikayat Raja Babi (will be published by Fixi at the Pesta Buku Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur 2015) and the Magna Carta.
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