“God wills, man dreams, the work is born” said once Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, and writer.
La Petite Portugaise is the newest addition to the fabric of Brussels’ multicultural makeup. A Portuguese bookshop, the store invites natives and other speakers alike to revel in all things Portugal, and to learn more about the country and its culture through the books on offer, the events they hold or even the small delicacies they sell.
A non-profit store, it opened last month to fill the void created over the closure of the previous Portuguese bookstore in Brussels, Orpheu, and ever since opening has seen a positive response to it as both a place to discuss literature and learn from a different culture. Being non-profit, the schedule of the bookstore means it operates during the working week on a lunchtime basis and the weekend from 11:00 – 15:00.
Susana Pratt, the current president of the organisation, spoke to Brussels Express about the bookstore and its ideals.
Why did you open this bookstore?
We think that by opening this bookstore, we were providing something that people needed. Since the last Portuguese bookstore closed down, the significant population of Portuguese in Brussels didn’t have a place where they could be reconnected with their literature or their homeland, and we wanted people to have that space where they could feel an affinity with their culture, or for other peoples to see a new one.
What books do you have on offer?
We have books about Portuguese cuisine, travel books,history, literature and are working with publishers to try and get more books from less known Portuguese authors to our store. We thought it nice not just to get standard Portuguese books but get ones from unheard voices, giving a fresh perspective for our customers to have when looking for books. We are also going to try to get some Portuguese books in English as we want to show other cultures the modern evolution of Portugal. We currently offer some books in multiple languages, and we will look into getting a wider variety.
What are your aims for this store?
To give people an insight into Portugal and to continue the Portuguese culture in Brussels. With some Portuguese people in Brussels, they have children born and raised here, and they may start forgetting their home culture and language, so we deliberately aimed to have a children’s area stocked full of Portugese childrens books. We also have scheduled many events for the future and want to build a community where people can suggest events to us, and we want to give people the chance to learn more about Portugal and the society and history beyond the countries colonial history. The society and movements have evolved since then, and there is a lot that could be learnt from contemporary Portuguese authors.