Aloha. K.A. Doore wrote an essay yesterday about the reader’s buying power and how the support of an independent bookstore helps save jobs and sustain a vibrant literary community. I have nothing to add to her excellent work – she said it so eloquently. I want to say that I’m so deeply grateful I have the love and support of Counterpoint Press. This amazing independent press was brave to embrace my experiment, er, debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues. It is because of their courage and support that strangers and friends alike are reading my work.
I had no expectation that this dream would come true: nearly nine years ago, the state police in Georgia raided my house at gunpoint and confiscated, among other things, my computer and most of my work. It took four years before I could get back to the place where I could re-start the story that would become Atlas. Once I finished writing the book, it took another year for Counterpoint and I to find each other — and they have restored my hope. Their commitment to my story and the topics it covers – racism, misogyny, invisibility in America – has taken my breath away.
I think one of the reasons I became a writer is because of my love of reading. I’ve been an obsessive reader for decades, and my first love was the main branch of the public library in Chapel Hill, N.C. In college, I started buying books, not just textbooks from the university bookstore, but trips to independent bookshops, where I received great recommendations on gripping poetry and stories that I could sink into, and dog-ear and underline. There is nothing more exciting than walking in to an independent bookstore and getting the scoop about the latest releases and the stories behind the beautiful books lining the shelves. It was an independent bookseller who recommended most of my favorite books over the years: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, Leaving Yuba City by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, When My Brother Was An Aztec by Natalie Diaz, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Try it. Go to your local independent bookseller and strike up a conversation. Become a part of a literary community. You won’t regret it.
I wanted to give a shout-out to the independent bookstores that have shown me so much support and love these past few months since my launch in February. Thank you for hand-selling my novel and for championing my book. Mahalo.
- Books Inc., Mountain View, CA
- Charis Books, Atlanta, GA
- Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
- Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
- McNally Jackson Books , New York, NY
- Book Passage, San Francisco, CA
- Revolution Books, Berkeley, CA
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