Good bookshop, Colombo Sri Lanka


Godage Book Emporium, Colombo carries books by Sri Lanka based writers. Specifically those writing in Sinhalese and Tamil. The type outside the markets of Barefoot and Vijitha Yapa – and old Sinhala favourites I read in School. Found both at . You can’t miss the place with the name painted professionally on the sides. The building is on the same side of the road as Ananda College. Parking – at least on a rainy Saturday – was not a problem.

My problem with any bookshop is that they are black holes in time. I step in for a quick browse on a quiet afternoon and the next thing I know its dark outside and they want to throw me out to lock up the shop. Godage’s has these dangerous qualities. However the constraints of life’s logistics were pressing so I was able to kept my browsing focused in a very un-bohemian sort of way.

The shelves had books on rarely discussed parts of Sri Lankan culture. Topics fascinating enough to make it painful to walk away without a “quick” flip of the pages. I won’t bore you with the stuff I consider “fascinating”. Another (yes there is always another thing) that struck me was the quantity of books published by local writers – in all 3 languages -and quite a few translations in between. No doubt the quantities per book are not enough for any one author to make a living off book sales. And the quality of the printing and the physical structure of the books won’t win awards (though they might keeps costs low). Given the fact that we are at war, it is a miracle that there are people writing and publishing anything. I personally will happily shelve book design aesthetics if there’s yummy stuff in the pages.

I picked up Contemporary Sinhala Fiction – Some Writers and Their Writing by Madhubhashini Ratnayake (in English) on the ground floor. Upstairs I got Mahagama Sekera’s Thunman Handiya, a crisply printed 15th edition. I loved reading that book as a kid and wanted to go over it again as an adult. The staff as quite helpful in locating what I wanted – people who want to write posts about poor customer service will have to go elsewhere.😉 To top it all I bagged a 30% discount on my selections. Scampered to the chariot quite happy.

The owners of the place, Godage Book publishers, are doing quite bit to print local authors. The Emporium is a good place to pluck the fruits of that effort. Definitely a must for readers looking to make their own discoveries.

No nobody associated with Godage’s paid (or gave me that 30% discount) to write this🙂 Should be obvious by now…

7 comments

  1. Being an author sucks though.

    Every time I go to collect money they say that the owner is not there so come back later, or some other crappy excuse (ie they’re not sure how many copies have sold old etc etc..).

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  2. Vindi: Wasn’t exactly looking for a new author – the point of going there was to find a new place to sniff around and pick up Thunman Handiya. Contemporary Sinhala Fiction was an impulse buy and is turning out to be a good read. The book has a very “printed in Sri Lanka” feel. Dinged up cover. Pit of dust and some stains. Didn’t get a chance to look at the fiction section.

    R:Your comment has a ring of constant theme that is running through Contemporary Sinhala Fiction I just bought. Are the people you are having a problem with Godage publishers?

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  3. there are few good Sinhala language publishers in Colombo , apart from Godage. Dayawansa Jayakody is one of them .thier shop ( or shops-as they have 2 buildings facing eachother!) is just a stone throw from where Godage is , on S.Mahinda Himi Mv. and then there is Visidunu Publishers. they are in Nugegoda.
    if any one’s intersted in Sinhala language books , Godage,Dayawansa and Visidunu are the best places to go..and mind you they have a far more superior collection of books than VYB or Barefoot but only if your intersted in Books in Sinhala!
    if someone’s intersted in old reprints of books from colonial times, the best place is Tisara Prakashakayo, but then not sure where they are now.. used to be in a big 5 story building around Kohuwala but during the 80’s they went bust and now doing small time!
    enjoy!

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  4. It’s not just Godage. Sarasavi, D&J, sooriya and all the famous bookshops are the same. Well, I guess that’s how the system works. I’m not complaining, just annoyed.🙂

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  5. R: You are quite justified in being annoyed and you have every right to complain.🙂 The sad unprofessional way authors (the life blood of publishing) are treated is one thing that keeps the publishing down. A blind short term gain mentality. Definitely a blog post topic🙂 Who knows it might trigger something positive.

    tinker: Thank you for that info – particularly the directions!😀 The tip about old reprints of books from colonial times is quite interesting. Will try to look it up.

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