Cuba’s first English-language bookstore offers a selection that would just about stock the lobby of an average Vermont bed and breakfast. Next to what’s available in English elsewhere in Havana, it might as well be the Library of Congress.
The brainchild of a longtime U.S. expat, Cuba Libro launched Friday as a bookshop, cafe and literary salon that offers islanders and tourists alike a unique space to buy or borrow tomes in the language of Shakespeare. Cuba Libro also gives customers an occasional glimpse of opinions hard to find elsewhere on the island.
“I know how hard it is to get English-language sources here,” said New York City native Conner Gorry, 43, a journalist living in Cuba since 2002. “So I started cooking this idea.”
Cuba Libro is already planning English classes taught by native speakers. And those who can’t afford to buy books will be able to borrow in a lending-library format.
Meanwhile staffers are reaching out to diplomats and other foreigners to build the store’s stock.
“Getting donations is going to be another interesting piece of it, because importing books here is very difficult,” Gorry said.
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