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enCounter Culture

Observer's 100 greatest novels to be re-covered

17th February 2012 - 12:45 Noon

A new project to fight illiteracy is urging readers from around the world to design new covers for the books included in the Observer's list of the100 greatest novels of all time.

The list was originally compiled by Robert McCrum eight years ago, following a poll of 100 Observer employees, and raised much debate upon its publication.

Now, Antwerp artist Tom Haentjens has come up with the innovative idea of asking members of the public to design new jackets for every book in the list, ranging from Miguel De Cervantes' Don Quixote (ranked number one) to W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (number 100).

He contacted McCrum to suggest launching the project, explaining that it will not only serve to promote each book, but foster the imagination of the public.

'In short, I want to launch an open international call for artists to re-interpret all of the 100 book covers featured in the list. The works will be turned into posters, stamps, a book etc and profits of sales will go to an organisation fighting illiteracy,' Haentjens explained.

So far, response to the project has been very positive, with titles ranging from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, widely regarded as the first true novel published in the English language, to Ian McEwan's bestseller Atonement, published in 2001, receiving new covers.

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