This month’s Bookshop of the Month is Romancero Books, an online bookstore based in London that sells literature from Spain and Latin America, with a focus on literature written by women. We had the great pleasure to catch up with founder Jorge Garriz.
What do you think is special about Romancero Books?
Romancero Books is an online bookshop that “opened” during the first months of the pandemic in 2020. We are the only bookshop dedicated exclusively to Spanish and Latin American literature in the UK, with a special focus on literature written by female writers. We also have a section dedicated to LGBTQI+ voices, another one to what we called Lorca’s Universe, writers in exile and diaspora, and a section dedicated to female writers from the Silver Age of Spanish Literature. We also organise book launches and curate literature programmes. There is Romancero Talks, supported by the Instituto Cervantes of England, in which we interview authors. We also have presented the Festival of Queer Spanish Literature in London, organised with the support of the Spanish Embassy in London.
If money was no object, what changes would you make to your ‘bookshop’?
We would love to open a physical bookshop with a cafe, an event space or a little auditorium and transform Romancero Books into a cultural centre.
How / why did you get into bookselling?
I love reading, I always have liked it. I found it extremely complicated to find the books in Spanish I wanted to read in the UK. After many years of living here and always bringing a suitcase full of books, I decided it was time to open the bookshop I wanted to open and give the opportunity to others to read contemporary Spanish literature.
What’s the best interaction you’ve ever had with a customer?
For Sant Jordi, April 23, and for our anniversaries (the next one is Saturday, June 11), we organised bookstalls in our front garden. We have a gazebo and we take all the books out and sell them at a 10% discount. We sometimes have Floral.Berto selling flower bouquets, and customers come to buy books and flowers. I mention these two bookstalls because for us these are the best moments to meet our customers, give them recommendations and listen to their opinions. For us, these markets are THE best interaction we can possibly have with them, and it is also enchanting to see them sharing recommendations and meeting new people. Thinking all this has been possible because of selling books makes us feel very proud.
What’s your favourite And Other Stories book?
Permafrost (by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches), with no doubt. I read it in Spanish first then in English. I have recommended this book to many friends. Eva Baltasar, the writer, spoke about the translation of her book into English at the first edition of The Festival of Queer Spanish Literature in London in October 2021.
What book published in the last year do our readers need to get their hands on? Las malas by Camila Sosa is a bestseller in Argentina, Spain and the whole of Latin America. It has finally been translated (by Kit Maude) into English under the title The Queens of Sarmiento Park. Everyone must read this magical, bold and raw tale of a group of prostitutes in Córdoba, Argentina.
What would be your desert island book?
Wow, this is a very complicated answer to give, but I love On Chesil Beach although a wiser answer would be to take with me the Seasonal Quartet by Ali Smith. Autumn and Spring are two of the most beautiful books I have read in years.