In September Luc and Shara Josaphat fulfilled a long-held dream when they opened Daddy’s Basement, a cozy bookstore on Rogers Avenue. With floor to ceiling windows and bookcase-lined walls, the shop brightens an otherwise drab strip of shuttered storefronts, bodegas, salons, and street side churches.
Daddy’s Basement was named in honor of Shara’s father, who turned his Brooklyn basement into an informal restaurant and neighborhood gathering spot. As Shara explains, “It comes from the idea of living in my father’s space – I wanted to recreate that in the mode of literature.” Even in design the bookstore echoes her childhood sanctuary – the long black sales counter mimics the bar in her father’s café.
The 30-something husband and wife owners have strong ties to Medgar Evers College – Luc graduated last year with a degree in English and Shara is now a senior, majoring in cross-cultural literature. Fittingly, last Thursday, the college’s Center for Black Literature premiered their new reading series at Daddy’s Basement.
The first installment of the John Oliver Killens Reading Series, named for the Pulitzer Prize-nominated African American fiction writer, showcased three debut authors – Angelenos Ernessa T. Carter (32 Candles) and Tanya Wright (Butterfly Rising), and Clinton Hill’s Tiphanie Yanique (How to Escape from a Leper Colony).
When the Center’s Assistant Director, Clarence Reynolds, opened the evening, he noted that, with the closing of Bed-Stuy’s Brownstone Books, Daddy’s Basement is now one of only two black-owned bookstores in New York City (the other one is the Hue-Man Bookstore & Café in Harlem).
The three authors read gripping excerpts from their books and, in an extended q&a session, discussed their craft, influences, and the creative process.
In the coming months, Daddy’s Basement will be hosting several high profile authors, including Darin Strauss (Half a Life) and Ben Greenman (Celebrity Chekhov). (Author’s note: Greenman wowed a Crown Heights audience last week at the Franklin Park Reading Series.)
Dr. Brenda Greene, director of the Center for Black Literature, praised the Josaphats. “You’re fulfilling the mission of Medgar Evers to be transformative agents within yourselves and the community by giving back.” Highlighting the business risk, she added, “You’re not going to make money selling books, but you’re pursuing your passion, which is important to do in life.” Daddy’s Basement is located at 327 Rogers Avenue, between Montgomery Street and Sullivan Place. They’re open Monday-Saturday, 11-7, and 12-7 on Sundays. 347-770-8114