Shakespeare and CompanyLegendary English-language Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company has been rightly lauded for its role during the recent atrocities in Paris, when writer-in-residence Harriet Alida Lye reported live on developments to The Guardian from the bookstore. “We are safe in [the Shakespeare & Co] bookshop, with the windows blacked out,” she wrote. “There are about 20 customers with us who’ve been sat here for hours calling home. I haven’t seen anything but police cars go by, and people stumbling out of bars in central Paris who clearly have no idea what is going on. We are all taking breaks between calling people and checking the news.” Lye followed this with a full article in the National Post, detailing her experiences, and how the bookstore and its staff acted through the crisis.

Shakespeare and Company itself tweeted on November 14th, the morning after the attacks: “In light of last night’s events we will not be opening the bookshop today. Thank you for your understanding.” At the time of writing, that is the bookshop’s last tweet.

Many commentators on Facebook and elsewhere have taken the media to task for focusing on the attacks in Paris while ignoring other bloody outrages in Beirut and Baghdad. So, in the same spirit of fairness and impartiality, I’d like to hear of any bookstore or literary/cultural venue or institution that gave shelter during these assaults, or held commemorations afterwards. Where else did literacy stand against atrocity? Who else offered refuge or succour? Commendations and citations invited.


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