Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Alternative Tour of the 6th Karachi International Book Fair

The 6th Karachi International Book Fair was held in Karachi this week. More than 300 publishers/ booksellers, more than a quarter million visitors over five days. You might have read about the importance of such events, you might have heard about the achievements of the fair and you might have been told about the diversity on offer. But since more than 70 percent of the stalls were trying to make money by making the readers better Muslims, we concentrated on the free goodies on offer.

6th Karachi International Book Fair (Photo: Suhail Yusuf / Dawn.com)

Things We Got For Free

A DVD of the first-ever documentary about Maulana Maududi’s life, produced by Al Khidmat, Jamaat Islami’s charity wing.

A CD of the Jamaat’s current ameer Maulana Munawar Hassan’s speeches. We accepted it under extreme duress.

Four pamphlets:

1. Sins of the Tongue (the Urdu version is called Zaban ka Gunah)
Not what you think. It’s all about Islamic punishments for gossiping and backbiting.

2. Music: Quran aur Sunnat Mein [Music According to the Quran and Sunnat]
More haraam than you ever thought. It leads to road accidents and zina.

3. Quaid-e-Azam Speaks
… And it seems he couldn’t utter a sentence without quoting from the Quran or invoking Islam.

4. How Good is Your Child’s School?
They perform Shakespeare’s plays? They celebrate Halloween? They have sleepovers at their friends’ house? You need to find a more Islamic school.

We were also given a newsletter by the Pakistan Librarians’ Association. Their favourite word seems to be ‘decline.’

One Thing We Thought Was For Free But Wasn’t

A DVD on goras converting to Islam.

We assumed it was for free because we were promised that everything on this particular stall was for free. But then we were told that this DVD was an exception. 80 rupees.

Things We Admired But Found To Be Way Out Of Our Budget

Kaaba Fun Game
Masjid Fun Game
Salat Fun Game

Things We Could Have Got For Free But Didn’t

Complete Quran audio download to our mobile phone. Takes only five minutes to download, we were assured.

Books We Wanted To Buy But Then Looked At The Last Chapter

Two new biographies of Mohammad Bin Qasim, both with happy endings. Dude marries Raja Dahar’s daughter and lives happily ever after. And we thought he was called back, tortured and executed by being sewn alive into a hide and drowned by the then khalifa.

Books We Didn’t Even Know Existed

Collected works of Dale Carnegie (of How to Make Friends and Influence People fame) in Urdu. This was definitely the heftiest volume we have ever seen in the Urdu language.

A new translation of The Brothers Karamazov by a gentleman called Shahid Siddiqi.

One Thing We Did Buy

A funky looking mug which reads ‘Smile, it’s Sunnah.’


mcphisto said...

I was really hoping to see a picture of that mug. Could do with a Sunnah-induced smile.

Ali said...

Dude, your blog is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

u not da roon, u da man!

Anonymous said...

Speeches of that joker Munawar Hassan! Lolzz I know many Jamatias who think that JI should get rid of him.

xeeshan said...

sins of the tongue huh? Definitely not what I was thinking :)

AIESH said...

its a pity that book fair has to infested with this sort of junk.

Anonymous said...

And what got you so offended that you had to make this hateful mocking post?
if some publishers were marketing their Islamic books than what's the big deal?

were you disappointed that you didn't find them promoting satanic verses or taleema nasreen? ... Gosh .. it could have been so ideal ... you dream come true..

Anonymous said...

Um, I know about Satanic Verses but what is Taleema Nasreen?

Abbas said...

Thanks for making us smile with this witty post.

I didn't know of this fare but it'll be great if we have more similar books promoting gatherings in other cities also.

Ali said...

> And what got you so offended that you had to make this hateful mocking post?
if some publishers were marketing their Islamic books than what's the big deal?

This is a free country and just like you are free to publish ridiculous books like 'zaban kay gunah' and DVDs on goras converting to Islam, we are free to laugh at you. If you don't like it, move to afghanistan.

Ahsan said...

Sorry I may have missed some announcement, but is Daroon e khana a new poster here? This read like MSS...

Also, the "not what you think" line was gold.

Anonymous said...

One can only play the Salat Fun Game if they also own the Kaaba Fun Game. Stupid parent traps!

Anonymous said...

I'm mildly creeped out by the Muhammad bin Qasim book. Seriously, what the hell?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:06 PM

At least get your infidels right...it's Taslima Nasrin.


Magnum said...

@Anon 11:6
"""were you disappointed that you didn't find them promoting satanic verses or taleema nasreen?"""

Boy, you sound very much like Mosharraf Zaidi - the American school educated, rap listening, knee-jerk ''columnist.'' :P

Good post again, Cafe Pyala.

TLW said...


In other news, thanks for reminding me why there's barely any good books in Pakistan. Any thing "interesting" gets cancelled out by the five times larger quantity of religious books and programming one has to put up with.

This leads to exhaustion when searching out for good books.

The educated lot has so much Islamic drivel pumped into their brains with their education, that not many casual readers can turn around without finding religious propaganda or tory drivel drowning you everywhere. You have to be motivated like crazy to find good stuff under the tsunami of printed Islamist propaganda. In other news, now I know why I go search for good books in Khori Garden, second hand bookstores and Sunday bazaars, instead of professional bookstores.

Ulta Seedha said...

Well said, TLW,
that's exactly where all the great books are. One can also find some fantastic books (in Urdu and Sindhi) outside large Sufi shrines during festivals in Sindh.

But the so-called big book stores in the cities are concerned, I'm afraid they are all catering to our 'educated' urban yahoos who have 'rediscovered' Islam. :P

Stick to the second hand book stores and, yes, good ol' khori garden. :)

Amna K said...

Ditto: 'Not what you think' is SOLID gold!

Anonymous said...

why frown when you have the good old internet ?
www.literotica.com is the place to be
or are you into something more non-orthodox ?

Anonymous said...

You left out the "Islamic word puzzles" - what riotous fun!
However, I spotted something unexpected at the NWFP textbook board stall. The biology textbook on display included an entire chapter on evolution, that too without any divine counter theories or creationist mumbo jumbo. Even bigger surprise - apparently this book has been in use since 2005! How could the MMA govt at the time have missed/allowed that?

TLW said...


Anon4:45 who opposes those who oppose religious propaganda immediately jumps to smut as the opposite of religion.

But for Anon4:45 anyone not thinking about religion must be automatically thinking about sex. Methinks if that is yer implied binary view of the world, you need to go out, get some and get it of your chest.

Then come back and talk about the suffocating atmosphere that religious people in Pakistan try to create around every aspect of discourse.

Anonymous said...

What a great read! I had a good laugh, especially over the comment wars.
Oh and yes please publish a picture of the mud (due to popular demand kind of thing!). I would love to have one too.:D

yawar said...

Anon @ 4:45

You, sir, are the reason why Pakistan keeps topping the Google list of most searches for porn.

And, ironically, you TOO are the reason why we still remain to be so exhibtionistic about our faith.

tsk, tsk ...

AynAlif said...

If you are paranoid you see what you hate. I was at the book fair and was impressed with the number of books on display and more so with the number of people who had come to the fair.

Yes, I did see several religious books on display and actually bought a desk calendar -"365 Days of Quran Trivia." But I also saw a large collection of non-fundo books. "The Bookseller of Kabul" was there. So was "Unsolved Murders and Crimes."

A good find was Granta Autumn 2010 - The "Magazine" of New Writing - with a special collection of stories on Pakistan. I usually think of a magazine as an A4 or larger printed collection of glossy picture filled pages. Granta, on the other hand, is a book that calls itself a magazine.

It seems as if Daroon e Khana just visited Hall 3 of the Expo - there were two other Halls and you could find books dealing in subjects as vast as "A treatise on the Deformities of the Left Leg of a Female Frog," to "Programming in C++."

The printed word is disappearing - and I do not mean a migration to Kindles and eBooks - and we should be happy to see that there were so many visitors celebrating the printed word. Viva KIBF.

Anonymous said...

You have highlighted an important issue. I am an avid, perhaps a compulsive reader and I did go to visit the bookfair but was dissappointed by what I saw.There was so much printed material but not enough books to read.

Talha said...

Its totally beyond my understanding as to why we are bothered with the fact that their were more Islamic Stalls at the book fair then those who were selling other books. Supply of any goods and services is most of the time generated when their is enough need and demand in the market. In my opinion, this goes on to show that their is sizable demand for Islamic text in the market and these publisher are just filling that gap.
Moreover,the writer has certain feelings for Islam (positive or negative)that the only thing that could attract his attention were Islamic book stalls. I hope the writer has a reliable source for the quoted percentage of Islamic stalls , because to me the fair was well distributed among different categories. As far as I am concerned Pakistan's biggest publishers like Oxford and store chains like Liberty Books had their presence at the fair, then why not some Islamic book publishers who were just trying to fulfill a market need. Take it or leave it. Its your choice :-).

Adnan said...

tsk tsk. The preachers of Seculars are acting like conservatives.

Now where's your "secular tolerance"? Why can't you tolerate it and move on?

I smell fanaticism here.

Anonymous said...



Octobergirl22 said...

I have a picture of the mug.
Plus, There are 5 more mug designs (:
Visit http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Dawah-Books/139364122784396
for pictures of 3 mugs.

Zeenia said...

An interesting trend I noticed at the book fair was the demand for cookbooks by women. There was decent presence of Urdu books stalls, however, I doubt if they were able to sell as many classics as they sold the Biryani and Khichra recipes promoted by the chattering “cooking experts” at the masalah-spewing line up of local TV channels. I wish I had the time to interact with the stall keepers for this, but during my 15 minutes presence at the two Urdu literature stalls, I found several women inquiring about cookbooks by the popular TV chefs.

Honestly speaking, I think these cooking/recipe channels are deviously ‘kitchenising’ women promoting the traditional theory of “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. With food prices tearing the skies, do people really want to invest in gallons of oil and care about the variety of meat and desserts to put on the table?

Anonymous said...

Mullahs have trivialised the philosophy of religion. A person always adopts the religion of the family into which he is born; rarely he may reconsider his views due to some external influence. A person born into a jewish family becomes a jew; he belives that Moses is the true Prophet and everything else is false; he wont explore Bible or Quran as he is satisfied with his beliefs. Same goes for all religions; why should i read the Bible when i know i am right. And among muslims there are huge differences of opinion although all read the same book. And here we have these semi-literate mullahs who want to convert non-muslims through mugs. They cant even explain the basic controversies in hadees or fiqh. An educated gora will only laugh at these fools.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised cafepyala hasn't commented yet on the express tribune/dawn/mcd controversey. let's have a steaming hot mug (the Sunnah smiley type of course) of that i say.

ZeMMoZ said...

To All "Fun Loving Roshan Khayals" (thats what u call urself ..eh )

Making fun of increasing islamic activity shows how much broad minded you are. Since you guys always preach to "tolerate" and "Think Positive" why don't you guys also view this case in the very same scenario.

the problem with today's youth is ...after watching countless talk shows and meaningless countless debates..everyone now has lots of time up his/her sleeve for meaningless just for the sake of passing time :)

if a person has decided that he/she is right all the time, nothing, even a good logical point, can make them accept there stupidities :)

Making fun of something is lot easier (especially when you got free blogs with anonymity .... you fear nothing right :P)

If you guys think that this religious literature, despite of right or wrong, is not good, why don't some of you come up with a good book....!!!

but hey making fun by blogging is damn more entertaining...and commenting is even more entertaining...!!!

Ps: anyone thinking of addressing my comment ..please come up with some logical comment instead of those childish "maulana" and "taliban" things :)


GFK said...

@ Anon = How the Cafe Pyala guys can write about the MQM & Dawn...!!??

Butterscotch said...

sending you 3 links from fb. These are pages created to support the act of taseer's killer. I have reported them to fb already. if you could possibly put them on twitter so more ppl can report on them.