KL Alternative Bookfest 2023 set to bring indie books and readers together


  • Books
  • Tuesday, 21 Feb 2023

Independent bookshop Tokosue makes a return to this year's KL Alternative BookFest at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

The Kuala Lumpur Alternative Bookfest 2023 (KLAB) is set to turn Central Market in Kuala Lumpur into a wonderland for book lovers from Feb 23-26.

This is the 14th edition of KLAB, which has championed local independent publishers, and also supported mini art events and film scene/archival programmes through the years.

The festival has shifted venues in the heart of KL, including early stops at Central Market Annexe and Dataran Underground. The Central Market venue is where it has captured its biggest - and youngest - audience as seen by the thousands who made their way to this downtown literary event last year.

KLAB 2023 is presenting 36 vendors, with stalls taking up the ground floor of Central Market, and also an art lane space.

Bundusan Books, a pop-up bookshop specialising in publications from Borneo or of Borneo, indigenous and cultural topics, is also a part of this year's festival. Photo: Bundusan BooksBundusan Books, a pop-up bookshop specialising in publications from Borneo or of Borneo, indigenous and cultural topics, is also a part of this year's festival. Photo: Bundusan Books

The vendors – indie publishers to hip bookshops – include Buku FIXI, Inisiatif Buku Darul Ehsan (IBDE), Bundusan Books, Tokosue, Riwayat Bookshop, Ilham Books, Katapilar, Maple Comics, Gerak Budaya, Hikayat Fandom, Merpati Jingga, Karangkraf, Pelita Dhihin, Dubook, Rabak-lit x Lejen, Kedai Dr Maszlee, Kedai Buku Biblio And Biblio Press, Mangosteen Books, Legasi Oakheart and others.

With the focus mainly on contemporary Bahasa Malaysia language books, visitors can expect a diverse range of titles, from fiction to graphic novels, biographies and journals. The local poetry and fanzine scene will also be well-represented. There will also be vendors offering English books and a curated section of vintage and rare books on "Malaysiana".

Online film site Siar is also presenting a list of movies throughout the festival in its "Sila Panggung" series (register here), with directors and filmmakers set to appear for post-movie discussions.

On Thursday, the programme starts with Amir Muhammad's film essay Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow And Tomorrow (at 2pm), which focuses on Jins Shamsudin's Esok movies, before the classic Mekanik movie, directed by Othman Hafsham in 1983, is given a 40th anniversary salute at 5pm.

Local publishing outfit FIXI is a familiar sight at the KL Alternative BookFest series. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee HongLocal publishing outfit FIXI is a familiar sight at the KL Alternative BookFest series. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

On Friday, there will be an hour-long film discussion Pengarkiban Filem Di Malaysia Lemah?, hosted by Azharul Azmir and Ali Agung, at 4pm.

Saturday sees the movies Tuah (2pm), directed by Anwardi Jamal in 1988, and Femina (5pm) entertaining film buffs, while Sunday's programme rolls out Rozana Cinta 97, directed by Nasir Jani, at 2pm. Later, the 1993 comedy drama Imigran at 5pm rounds up the film line-up.

New book releases, talks and workships with authors and industry players will be held throughout the (free admission) festival's four-day run.

Organised by Jejak Tarbiah, The Patriots Asia, and indie publisher Buku Fixi, the fair is open from 10am to 8pm daily.

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