Emoke B’Racz says “I wanted to have a place where diversity and the freedom of speech is the ruling divide. Where book sellers were supported as talented human beings and where knowing literature was appreciated and were considered a noble profession.”
She’s nurtured that dream at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina. “The magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the architecture of downtown Asheville, and the ability to ‘grow up’ within a city and the community that was struggling to survive was a pure invitation for giving all the energy I had,” says B’Racz. “Finally I arrived home.”
Malaprop’s is, to me, a must-visit booksore. There’s a real energy here, B’Racz and her carefully chosen and highy knowledgeable staff bring in “big name” authors, but also take care of the rest of us. Members of that great staff have become friends of mine – and also met two women at my first reading there who have become such good friends that I keep up with them every time I pass through town!
While B’Racz says Malaprop’s customers are partial to many different kinds of books, including literary fiction, poetry, cultural studies, and current events, the largest (“and most beautiful,” B’Racz notes) section in the store is devoted to Southern culture, the Regional Collection section. “We carry a large and diverse selection of southern fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The most recent tribute to Southern literature at Malaprop’s was a Read-a-thon celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 17 regional authors read for four and a half hours to an enthusiastic crowd. It was fantastic!”
A few titles that are perennial favorites are “Serena” by Ron Rash, “Mayhem in Mayberry” by Brian Lee Knopp, “Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger” by Lee Smith (my beloved seventh-grade English teacher!), and”The Girl Who Chased the Moon” by Sarah Addison Allen. Local authors are so important to the store that ten years ago Malaprop’s commissioned a stained-glass work highlighting important Asheville authors: John Ehle, Gail Godwin, Thomas Wolfe, Elizabeth Daniels Squire and Robert Morgan. It’s a beautiful tribute to the interconnectedness of creativity and commerce.