Best Little Haiti Cultural Repository (1999)

Libreri Mapou

The very survival of Haiti's richly diverse culture is uncertain, threatened by decades of social, political, and economic dislocation and destruction. It's notable, then, that there are widely thought to be more books written in Haitian Creole on Libreri Mapou's shelves than in the entire nation of Haiti. And by now the number of educated Haitians who have fled their homeland surely exceeds the number still living there. Because of this tragic diaspora, if for no other reason, Libreri Mapou is an important preserver of culture and history. But it's more than a bookstore. Owner Jan Mapou has made his two-story shop into the closest thing to a cultural community center that exists in Little Haiti: a nesting place and workshop for his Sosyete Koukouy (Firefly Society) dance and drama troupe, and for a host of Haitian writers, painters, and artisans. Besides books and periodicals (in French, English, and Creole), Mapou offers for sale all manner of Haitian art and crafts he buys either in Haiti or from artists here. And perhaps more telling, people seem to think of Libreri Mapou as a sort of library reference section -- the place to call when they have questions about Haiti.


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