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The anatomy of Ann Patchett’s influence

Last year, PEN/Faulkner Award winner Ann Patchett opened Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore in Nashville (a city that previously had no bookstore of its own). Her efforts to support independent bookselling have secured her a place among Time magazine’s nominees for the 100 most influential people in the world. The public is able to cast votes for their favourite among the nominees; the poll closes on April 6. The official list of 100 names as chosen by Time‘s editors will be published on April 17.

In its write-up, Time says of the author:

Patchett has demonstrated a singular ability to write smart literary novels that are also big best sellers. And when it comes to literature and books in general, she’s put her money where her mouth is: in 2011 she opened Parnassus Books in her hometown of Nashville, placing herself on the front lines of several ongoing battles for the fate of the printed word.

The eclectic list, which includes Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher, Mark Zuckerberg, and Rush Limbaugh (“influential” clearly being defined broadly”), also features writers George R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, and E.O. Wilson.

Writing in the Guardian, Alison Flood quotes Patchett, who appears sanguine about the nomination:

“The humour of it is not lost on me,” she said. “If Beyoncé can get 30,000 votes, I’d like to have 30. I would like fellow Tennesseans to vote for me just so I’m not an embarrassment to the state. [But] I don’t think I am going to take Rihanna down on this one.”

Her nomination, though, shows “that people are taking independent bookstores seriously, and I have come to stand for something,” she said – namely, that community is important, and so is “feeling like we are not all being eaten alive by a giant corporation.”

“It means people are ready for this change,” she says. “And that’s beautiful.”

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