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…