Fire devastated this NYC Chinatown bookshop — community has rushed to its aid

After a fire devastated Yu & Me Books in Manhattan’s Chinatown, the community rallied to support the bookstore’s recovery efforts.

The fire: On July 4, a fire broke out in the building housing Yu & Me Books, resulting in the death of one tenant and significantly damaging the bookstore.
* Lucy Yu, the owner, was at work in the store when she was alerted to the fire.
* This is one of several recent fires in Chinatown, including fatal fires at an e-bike shop and the Fu Hao Gift Shop.

Post-fire efforts: Since the fire, Yu and her staff have been dealing with insurance claims, planning necessary renovations and seeking temporary spaces to continue operations.
* The hope is to return to the original Mulberry Street location within seven months, with all staff members currently managing both the logistics of recovery and personal losses connected to the fire.

Community support: Authors and regular customers have raised over $350,000 through an online fundraiser to support the bookstore’s recovery.
* These funds have assisted with staff salaries, replacing damaged inventory, and setting up pop-up events around the city.
* Other businesses, such as the Book Club Bar and Archestratus Books & Foods, have lent space and organized fundraising events to support the cause.

The value of gathering places: Yu & Me Books, being a popular literary community space, highlights the importance of such venues, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
* The loss of such spaces, evident with Eastwind Books of Berkeley closing its physical space recently and the Smithsonian’s decision to cancel its Asian American Literature Festival, underlines this.
* However, the spirit of Yu & Me Books continues even without the physical space.

Reflections on Community: Lucy Yu has spoken on realizing how a community extends beyond the physical location, with people being a large part of it.
* This realization has underlined the importance of welcoming everyone, which according to Yu is how a community is created and diversity fostered within a diaspora.

View original article on NPR

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