Notting Hill by Richard Curtis, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant

The International Booker Prize partners with The Notting Hill Bookshop to celebrate translated fiction

This May, we’ve teamed up with The Notting Hill Bookshop in London, made famous by the 1999 Richard Curtis film, to showcase the world’s best translated fiction

Written by Donna Mackay-Smith

Publication date and time: Published

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Located in the heart of Notting Hill, West London, a stone’s throw away from the vibrant Portobello Market, sits one of the world’s most famous bookstores: The Notting Hill Bookshop.  

With its distinctive royal blue facade, this small but perfectly formed independent bookstore, largely unchanged for years, captured the hearts of readers across the globe when it starred in the feature film Notting Hill. The 1999 romantic comedy, directed by Richard Curtis, was set around the bookshop, and starred Hugh Grant as the shop’s owner. Now, as the 25th anniversary of the film’s release approaches, The Notting Hill Bookshop, which has always celebrated the best writing from around the world, is partnering with the Booker Prize Foundation, between 9 and 24 May, to showcase this year’s International Booker Prize

In a video to celebrate the collaboration, original owner Sarah Anderson reflected on The Notting Hill Bookshop’s storied past, recalling an early encounter with director Curtis, who found inspiration within the shop’s walls. ‘He lived round the corner,’ she said. ‘He came into the shop one day, and said “I’m thinking of writing a film set in a bookshop, can I sit and take notes?”’ Anderson never expected much to come of it, let alone for the film to become one of the highest-grossing British films of all time. 

Notting Hill Bookshop

We definitely see translated fiction as being very popular among the younger crowd

— Sol Noyac, bookseller and social media manager at The Notting Hill Bookshop

For Anderson, the store was always a labour of love, born from a passion for literature and a desire to share stories from around the world, just like those longlisted for the International Booker Prize. ‘I’d always wanted a bookshop, and I’d travelled a lot, and while I was travelling, I thought it was preferable to read fiction set in a country, rather than just a guidebook,’ she told the Booker Prizes. 

Today, under the stewardship of current owners Howard and James Malin, The Notting Hill Bookshop continues to welcome visitors from far and wide. ‘We find that we get people from all over the world,’ said James. ‘It’s like they’ve come on a pilgrimage.’ However, the bookshop’s appeal now extends beyond the cinematic connections for which it initially found fame. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the shop has experienced a surge in sales and popularity, which its owners attribute partly to a new wave of young customers influenced by social media platforms such as BookTok. ‘A lot of younger people are engaged by the film… but they’re all about buying books!’ explained Howard. ‘It’s extraordinary,’ he said, noting that they ‘are so engaged with literature, fiction, books – and translated fiction too’. 

We’re really excited to hear the winner on May 21st, which actually coincides with the 25th anniversary of the release of the film

— Howard Malin, current owner of The Notting Hill Bookshop

Sol Noyac, a bookseller at the store and its social media manager, echoed this sentiment. ‘We definitely see translated fiction as being very popular among the younger crowd’, especially those in their twenties and thirties. ‘The International Booker Prize helps us curate the books that we think would be of value to our customers – and that we think our customers should be reading,’ Noyac added, when reflecting on the importance of the prize, which is awarded annually for the best single work of fiction from anywhere the world which has been translated into English and published in the UK and/or Ireland.  

So, what can visitors to The Notting Hill Bookshop expect when they come through the doors this May, as part of its collaboration with the International Booker Prize 2024? The shop will devote its window to the prize, as well as creating table displays featuring the longlisted and shortlisted books. It will also showcase bespoke recommendations of great works of translated fiction provided by the longlisted authors and translators and will run a ‘Blind Date with the Booker’ promotion. 

‘We’re really excited to hear the winner on May 21st, which actually coincides with the 25th anniversary of the release of the film,’ Howard said, noting the serendipity of the two events.  

You can visit The Notting Hill Bookshop and shop and see its dedicated displays for the International Booker Prize between 9 and 24 May.  

Notting Hill by Richard Curtis, starring Julia Roberts