Libreri Mapou is the centerpiece and some may even say the heart of Little Haiti, a district in Miami, Florida where Haitians live, work, and do commerce on the streets selling clothing, fruits and plants just like they do in Port-au-Prince. In a story in the Miami Herald this week, the 20th anniversary of the exceptional bookstore Libreri Mapou was the focus. It has survived the current economic recession and remains the intellectual soul of a community, as well as a gathering place for artists and others who want a strong connection to Haiti.
In years past, Libreri Mapou had Haitian paintings and crafts for sale in an upstairs room. It was always the place to buy delicious cremas at Christmas. If you want color postcards from Haiti and books in French, Creole and English about Haiti including books about Haitian art, this is the place to visit.
One of the unexpected treasures I found there was an eye-poppingly gorgeous hard-cover interior/home design book called “Interieurs d’Haiti” by Roberto Stephenson and Marie-Louise Fouchard measuring nine inches by seventeen inches. Pictured inside in full color are the homes of Haitians, rich and less than middle class. Regardless of economic circumstances, the owners of these remarkable places have employed a similar aesthetic — an appreciation for bright colors, original paintings and other artwork, and a love of the eclectic.
So congratulations to owner Jean Mapou of Libreri Mapou for keeping the intellectual flame of Haiti alive in South Florida for those who live here and those visitors savvy enough to pay the store a visit. It is located at 5919 Northeast Second Ave. in Miami, Florida 33137. The telephone number is 305/757-9922.