A Vintage Van Delivers Vintage (and New) Literature
You’re probably well-acquainted with the idea of the food van. The more sartorially minded may have even visited a fashion truck. Now, it’s translated into literature aimed at tourists.
In June 2013, three entrepreneurial literature lovers from Portugal’s capital created a nomadic bookstore that moves around the city all year long, bringing Portuguese literature to international visitors.
Tell a Story — that’s the van’s name — offers a collection of more than a dozen Portuguese classics that have been translated into English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. There’s something for everyone, from the evasive and sad verses of Fernando Pessoa — “To be understood is to prostitute oneself” — to Antonio Lobo Antunes’ dense and moving accounts of the country’s post-colonial legacy.
The vehicle, a gorgeous 1975 Renault Estafette, has character, but the soul of this literary omnibus is its driver, Francisco Antolin. He’s a 36-year-old Lisboner who loves books and talking about them with whoever stops by.
“We wanted to help people discover Portugal through our literature, because stories are a great way to understand a culture,” he says.