Asheville author Sara Gruen teams with Malaprop’s to rally against HB2


New York Times bestseller Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), who lives in Asheville, has teamed up with Malaprop’s bookstore in town for an event dubbed “Kill the Bill” and set for May 18 at Asheville Community Theatre.

Gruen will hold her event on the same day that another author event that Malaprop’s was set to host – a visit by Sherman Alexie, an award-winning writer and poet who canceled his event in protest to the North Carolina lawmakers passing a controversial state law known as HB2 (aka the “bathroom bill.”) The new law removes some protections for members of the LGBT community. Alexie’s cancelation prompted an outcry from Malaprop’s employees, who said the boycott hurt them financially.

Judith Rosen, writing for Publisher’s Weekly, has more:

Gruen, who has been outspoken in her support Malaprop’s, has put together a reading and fundraiser to support the LGBT community and to make up for Malaprop’s loss of income from Alexie’s cancellation. The event, which will be held on May 18, the day that Alexie was scheduled to speak, was mounted with the support of Malaprop’s staff, particularly Melanie McNair, the store’s assistant manager and newly appointed events coordinator.

Within a day authors Joshilyn Jackson (The Opposite of Everyone), Jamie Mason (Monday’s Lie), Kim Michele Richardson (GodPretty in the Tobacco Field) agreed to join Gruen on stage at the Asheville Community Theatre for a “Kill the Bill” reading. Gruen has also created the rough outline for an LGBT fundraiser at the event, which will include a pre-reading cocktail party where attendees can view the auction items, which will likely include a dinner with the authors as well as a stay at a local inn, signed books, and art work. Tickets will sell for $20.

Malaprop’s Melanie McNair, the store’s assistant manager and newly appointed events coordinato, has equally speedily put in place a framework for Kill the Bill, which will be the first in a new series the store is calling Authors for Action. The series is designed to support social, environmental, and other types of issues. Authors will be paired with a nonprofit group or groups with the goal of raising the profile of the cause. “It’s a way we can amplify the cause in the community,” McNair said.

Click over to read the full story at Publisher’s Weekly, and stay tuned for more Authors for Action events.

And here’s Malaprop’s store manager Linda-Marie Barrett’s April 14 op-ed published in the New York Times, titled Why Should My Store Be Boycotted Over a Law I Despise? A snippett:

But this shows how precarious social protest can be, especially when it involves boycotting bookstores, which are financially vulnerable, and often the best place in a community to discuss controversial ideas.

As justified as a boycott can be, we ask authors to consider a way of protesting other than boycotting bookstores. We need your voices, your presence, your art. When you cancel events with us, you deprive readers of a voice that can buoy them up, enlighten them, and demonstrate the fellowship of being there for each other, in community.

For 34 years we’ve had authors’ backs when their books were challenged or their events protested. We need authors to have our backs, too.