I always liked the Cape Town Book Fair. Not because of what it was, but rather perhaps despite of what it was. As one of my favourite South African writers Ndumiso Ngcobo who we interviewed called it a ‘self-congratulatory exercise’. Pretty spot on. But even if it was exclusive and elitist, and even if in Cape Town the standard of this is so high anyway, I liked some aspects of it enough to go. It was always nice to talk to a few people there and attempt to ignore the rest of the shameful display of all degrees of denial. That of course is pretty standard Cape Town experience of everyday and not limited to any specific events.
And now, yesterday, we went to the local book fair in Helsinki. It was cool – certainly it was massive combined with wine, food and music fairs, but to me it didn’t leave any particularly lasting impression. The experience was a bit like browsing trough hundreds of satellite channels with reruns of nothing to watch. That, of course, also was to a large extend due to the fact that the event was rather exclusively in Finnish and then a bit in Swedish, but English, which for us was something of an importance as my wife doesn’t speak Finnish was nowhere to be heard and not much to be read. Understandable – sure – but not very convenient for us, who admittedly were a small minority. Would’ve been nice to see a little bit more space for people to come together. Sometimes it seems that the integration in Finland starts when the integrated one has learned the language that by no standard is simple one. There’s a massive mistake made, but now I digress.
But how exciting! The e-books are the hot topic it seems!
All I am saying is that no wonder the people have been looking at me all weird when I have been trying to explain these things for the past couple of years.
But I’m not complaining. Well, of course I have been mainly complaining, but it was nice to see the event. In general it was okayish and in specific I have no idea as I didn’t have all that much chance to dwell on its specifics – talks and such. Glad that I went, glad that I’m not there now.