Librebook, the European multilingual bookshop in Brussels

Antonio Parodi

“I have lived in the capital of Europe for more than 20 years and I could never understand why in such a cosmopolitan city, you weren’t able to find a bookshop reflecting its diversity. So I decided to carry out the Librebook project and few month ago I launched my own bookselling business” .

This is how Antonio Parodi, the founder of Librebook. Explains the reason for the birth of his “creature”.

Librebook, with its selection of contemporary fiction in some 20 European languages, is so far unique. The languages are mostly those of the EU Prize for Literature that covers up to 37 Countries. At Librebook you can find Serbian and Croatian novels, Belgian Flemish and French-speaking literature very close to each other, and even books in Maltese and Luxembourgish!

But they decided to go even further and show how the richness of literary works in a specific language is also made of multicultural experiences in literature: authors from Somali and Iraqi origins writing in Dutch and Italian, Palestinian ones writing in Maltese and Italian, writers from Spanish and Slavic origins writing in German, etc.

To favour the discovery of less known literature and authors, Librebook presents  also quite a peculiar selection of translations into English and French, and some also in German.

Events are essential to attract the public and we’ve been planning more and more meetings, readings, seminars, a real kaleidoscope of experiences. We losed our programme last year with Greek and Latvian authors, this year we started with Slovenian, Italian, Czech, Portuguese and Maltese ones.

But a nice book can’t be read without tasting a good cup of expresso-coffee or tea or, even better, a glass of wine. This is why we invite people to sit down and enjoy a warm drink but also to discover the world of natural wine: “Reading wine” workshops and “Bacchus-book” meetings are the way to discover the same diversity in wine as in literature and to enjoy Bacchus’s nectar.

Librebook is located in Ixelles between the European Quarter and the African area “Matongé”, an area also called “The five continents” because of the cultural and ethnic variety and mixity of its inhabitants and commerce.

The first wave of Librebook clients came from the neighbourhood and then it has mixed more and more with people working in the European Quarter.

Most of the Brussels inhabitants and family or couples speak at least 2 or 3 languages, and a large number even 4 and more. Not only French, English or Dutch but a very wide range of combinations. Moreover, if you are a curious reader, you can discover translations of not mainstream authors from Montenegro or Serbia or Bulgaria or Latvia or Nordic countries into French, English and German.

In the era of economy dominated by global players like Amazon and in the age of growing populisms based on nationalism, Librebook looks ambitious and counterstream (you can say even a little crazy).

But the beginnings are very promising. A lot of people realized there was a hole that Librebook started to fill. And cultural and literary associations and centers or just individuals, come daily to propose  meetings, readings, activities in the bookshop. And at Librebook they will be extremely pleased to offer a commercial platform and a cultural stage to make visible and viable such a multicultural and multilingual richness in this incredible city that is Brussels..