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The Bright Green Bookshelf with English PEN

27th March 2017 - Marion Rankine


The Bright Green Bookshelf


A lot of thought went into choosing the bookshelves at the new Flagship store on Charing Cross Road. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say there were many. Models were procured and carefully mulled over by booksellers and managers alike. They needed to be uniform but not insipid, warm but not bright. Most importantly, they needed to set off the books rather than distract from them.


So why oh why, after all that work, would we turn one of our shelves bright green?


Cue our partners at English PEN, who keep a fantastic collection of books in translation on their PEN World Bookshelf site. There are more than 100 titles on this shelf, and they have all been supported by English PEN as part of their brilliant PEN Translates programme. Until now, the shelf has been largely virtual: a vibrant, humming collection of brilliant contemporary literature kept together in cyberspace...


Until now! We are thrilled to announce that every two months, we will be showcasing four titles from the World Bookshelf on our very own Bright Green Bookshelf at Foyles. Our current selection is below. Keep an eye on the website and social media for our next picks, and if you can, come and hunt down the Bright Green Bookshelf yourself (I’ll give you a hint – it’s somewhere on Level 1!)


On the Little Green Bookshelf

Little Green Bookshelf with English PEN


Iraq +100, Hassan Blasim (ed.)

A one-of-a-kind contribution to the shifting landscape of Arabic literature. It’s sci-fi but not as you know it. Echoes of the past permeate dark visions of the future of a nation (and indeed, world) in chaos. Look out for a technological Babylon of hackers and a northern Iraq-turned-Narnia, perpetually covered in snow.

Pick by Rebekah Murrel, Programmes Coordinator


Kingdom of Twilight by Steven Uhly (translated by Jamie Bulloch)

A strong contender for long German novel of the year. Uhly effortlessly combines action and poetry with a profound knowledge of history in his saga about the quest for identity and home in a post-war world. One of those rare page-turners that feels vital, important, and is beautifully written – and effortlessly translated.

Theodora Danek, English PEN Writers in Translation Programme Manager


Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (translated by Eliza Marciniak)

I have read this twice from cover to cover. I have dipped in and out, plucking out passages to read before bed or on the bus. I cannot leave this beautiful little novel alone. I want to view it, lovingly, from every angle. A faultless coming of age novel, that is also a portrait of rural life and of the passage of the seasons. It's rich and delicate and magical and you will fall in love with it.

Gary, Assistant Head of Fiction


The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Saelm Levy (translated by Alison Entrekin)

This novella has it all: great writing, a protagonist trying to find herself, and a journey halfway across the world. In brief bursts a young woman reflects on her family history, her mother’s death, her grandfather's emigration to Brazil, and her (mostly sexual) relationship with her ex.

Theodora Danek, English PEN Writers in Translation Programme Manager



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