In an age where the hustle of technology and everyday life has nearly rendered reading on paper an obsolete hobby, it seems difficult for literary aficionados to find a place to reconnect with themselves and others. Book fairs no longer seem to provide solace, having turned into mere pop-ups around the metro, and literature seems a lost art, destined to fade away with the rest of print. So what’s a book lover to do?
Enter Komura; Book Fair, a full-day affair held on November 18. A collaboration between Warehouse Eight and Kwago, Komura; is the first experience-driven book fair in Manila. With various art stalls, workshops, and reading lounges, Komura; is an intimate gathering featuring the best of stories from writers, musicians, and theater performers alike.
A book lover’s respite
“The name Komura; comes from Haruki Murakami’s novel, Kafka on the Shore—it’s the library where the main character stayed in when he ran away from home,” explains Czyka Tumaliuan, owner of Kwago, and one half of the duo behind Komura;.
“It’s the place where he chose to escape to, so we wanted a place where book lovers can find their escape, and meet other book lovers as well.”
Tumaliuan first created her passion project, Kwago, a curated bookstore to provide a platform for independent publications and local authors to share their work. Afterwards, rather than keep things strictly in novel format, she then decided to expand her idea to include various Filipino artists, singers, and actors. Thus, Komura; was born. “We have a lot of talented Filipinos who are not supported by big institutions,” she says. “Komura; wanted to provide a platform to support their works.”
When Tumaliuan resolved to take her ideas to the next level, she chose to reach out to Warehouse Eight, a versatile events space that has housed art fairs and musical performances in the past. It was there where she met Warehouse Eight founder Kayla Dionisio, who would collaborate with her in bringing Komura; to life.
“Reading is sometimes thought of as a dying art form, right? So we wanted to make it more interactive and more accessible,” Dionisio states. “We wanted the gathering to be as intimate as possible, so we encourage everyone at the fair to meet new people through the language of books.”
Redefining the art of storytelling
To bring book lovers closer to one another, Komura; contained reading nooks and held bookworm meetups. Serving coffee and beer, Komura; encouraged visitors to grab a drink and browse their extensive collection, which housed everything from independent bookstore catalogues to specialty publishers. Readers were thus given the opportunity to discover various Filipino zines and comics that featured the works of local authors and illustrators.
There were also plenty of art stalls to choose from, selling everything from handcrafted card games, original prints, antique collectibles, ethnic artifacts, and other memorabilia. Vinyl lounges provided ample listening sessions for music-lovers, with shelves lined with both new and old records. Open theater performances conducted by Exesanonymous.com brought an award-winning play to life. There was even a virtual reality booth inspired by Ernest Cline’s hit novel, Ready Player One (2011).
Komura; also provided an avenue for local singers and bands to showcase their talents. Entitled “Echoes at the Warehouse,” the live busking featured the likes of Lions and Acrobats, Alyana Lea Carmela, Hoochie Coochie Mikkie, Niki Colet, and Asch.
“We wanted to celebrate different forms of storytelling, so that’s why there’s still music, because musicians are also storytellers.” Dionisio shares. “So we really encourage them to tell their process, how the stories came about, not just perform with heavy lights, heavy production—we wanted these performances to be more stripped down.”
The future is literature
Needless to say, Komura; far exceeded its goal as a book fair. With its carefully curated book selection, assorted art and antique stalls, and raw musical performances, it delivered an experience like no other, creating a place where people could escape to by finding solace in storytelling.
So is Komura; going to continue as an annual affair? “I should hope so,” Tumaliuan laughs, “I hope people like it so we can carry on!”
“We’ll see after today if there’s going to be another one,” Dionisio adds, “but if all goes well, then I should say—definitely.”
Featured photo by Jerry Feng