Wayétu Moore: ‘Storytelling gives me a sense of belonging to this world’

James Reith |

Alongside busy social enterprises, Moore has written a novel about Liberia’s origins in which she hopes her compatriots will recognise themselves

‘Representation is important’ … Wayétu Moore. Photograph: Yoni Levy

WH Auden once said it was a “fallacious belief that art ever makes anything happen”. Had there never been any art, he claimed, “the history of man would be materially unchanged”. Wayétu Moore, however, believes differently. The Liberian-American author and social entrepreneur opened her own bookshop, One Moore Bookstore, Liberia’s first dedicated to reading for pleasure.

She started One Moore Book, a non-profit publisher of children’s books for underrepresented communities, after seeing first-hand how children engaged better with characters that look like them. And somehow she also found time to write a novel: She Would Be King, a fantastical retelling of Liberia’s founding. “It was in reading that I was able to make sense of my new country,” Moore says of her early days in the US. “Representation is important.”

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