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Elina Stoyanova has created home for Bulgarian books in London

| updated on 5/22/20 12:03 PM

"London is Open” is a major campaign of London mayor Sadiq Khan aimed to show that London was united and open for business and to the world. The campaign continues to spread the message that the city was a hospitable place to live in, uniting people of different nationalities and being open to business and creative ideas. A short video shows citizens from other countries who are developing their own small businesses in the cosmopolitan city. Each of them proudly opens the door of their store or restaurant. Bulgarians are also represented with a small boutique bookstore where a variety of Bulgarian literature is offered. Elina Stoyanova is a true ambassador of Bulgarian literature and spiritual culture in London and for her the bookstore is an old dream come true. Elina has been living outside her homeland for 7 years now and the bookstore has existed for two years. The Bulgarian woman has hired an old-fashioned hairdresser's salon and with her own efforts and a loan from banks she managed to turn it into a special café with many books. She remembers the first customer whom she welcomed with great excitement. He was an intelligent and curious elderly Londoner. Since then, she has been going to her bookstore with pleasure and says she is happy every time she unlocks her door. She sees the bookstore as her home and is even convinced that the Bulgarians in London share this feeling.

"I am extremely glad that so many intelligent Bulgarians are coming to the bookstore. They had no other place to meet and now they are coming to my bookstore and we have so many things to talk about. I am filled with pride and joy, thanks to the meetings with these interesting readers. I think that our communication was a bit superficial before. It is true that there are online bookstores, but there is no such thing as a real room or a library for Bulgarian books. I participate in the campaign of Mayor Sadiq Khan because a friend of mine liked what I do and recommended me. I'm glad to be a small part of the campaign. It shows how many people have believed in their dreams and despite the fact they are in a foreign country, they have achieved what they most probably failed to achieve in their own countries."

According to Elina, English people find Bulgarian language impressive. Many of them have studied Russian and come to the bookstore with the idea that they would be able to read and understand at least some of the titles in Bulgarian. Regular visitors often learn basic phrases in Bulgaria such as "good day", "please" and "thank you".

"Many English people already greet us in Bulgarian. They are very tolerant and curious, but this is especially true for Londoners over 50 years of age. The younger generation is different as they are more interested in the type of coffee they drink than in learning something new about a foreign country," Elina Stoyanova says and adds:

"The bookstore is located in the Walthamstow district, where many Bulgarians live. Nearby there is a long pedestrian shopping street with Bulgarian restaurants, pubs, shops, and even a Bulgarian bakery. Bulgarians continue to come and donate books to the library. I already have over 1000 books and I needed to buy more shelves. People here are often searching for books published in the early 20th century, but many Bulgarians are interested in recent Bulgarian history, biographical novels and historical topics. We also hold theater and literary evenings in the bookstore; we organize presentations of books and recently we have had an exhibition of traditional Bulgarian embroidery. I am not missing Bulgaria as a country for living," Elina Stoyanova adds." I feel nostalgia only when I think about Bulgarian mountains, the blue sky, and the aroma of lilac in the spring ... And of course I miss my parents."

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library

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