American translator opens multilingual bookstore-cafe in Haapsalu

American poet and translator Adam Cullen recently opened a tiny new bookstore-cafe in the coastal Estonian resort town of Haapsalu. What makes it especially unique is that the bookstore's selection focuses on Estonian fiction translated into foreign languages.

Located in a wooden house on the corner of Posti and Vaba, Pagu offers books for sale in 18 languages and counting.

Cullen, who works as a freelance translator, said that the idea behind the new bookstore-cafe came from his not wanting to work from home.

"Then I thought that I didn't just want to work in other cafes too much, or rent a studio and work there alone," he told ERR correspondent Juhan Hepner, speaking in Estonian. "And then I thought, why not open a bookstore-cafe then, where others can also drop in and write as well, or read and just hang out."

What makes the tiny bookstore especially unique is the selection of books for sale there; it's very likely one of a kind in Estonia.

"The main emphasis here is on Estonian fiction in foreign languages," Cullen explained. "Currently, a total of 18 different languages are represented. More will be incoming, as many as I can manage to order."

He added that some Estonian-language fiction and used copies of foreign authors' works can be found as well.

Haapsalu is very small for a city, which inevitably begs the question of whether the little store will have enough customers.

"There are quite a lot of foreigners here too, as such," the owner said. "There are definitely people who have friends or family who are foreigners or who speak some other language and would be interested in reading it. Also just so there would be a place where you can have a coffee and be surrounded by books."

Cullen added that tourists interested in buying something that could help them better understand Estonia in lieu of handicrafts may also be interested in translated versions of Estonian authors' works.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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