Founder and co-owner of Washington, DC’s much-admired Politics and Prose bookstore Carla Cohen died this morning following her battle with a rare cancer of the bile ducts. The Washington Post remembers her as “a former urban planner who conceived of Politics and Prose as a salon where Washington readers and writers could gather to challenge each other in discussion about the big ideas of the day — a place that would reach beyond customers’ pocketbooks and become part of their lives.” Cohen and fellow owner Barbara Meade put the store up for sale earlier this year.
In a obituary posted on the store’s site, they say the store was “entirely an invention of Cohen’s passions” and write: “Cohen took a special pleasure in discovery — of books certainly, but of writers as well. Among the beneficiaries of her taste and intellect was Wallace Stegner who gave her credit for having helped elevate him from regional novelist of the western U.S. to a writer of great national importance. And when he visited P&P for a book-signing in April 1989, the line to his table went through the bookstore, out the door, and down the sidewalk of Connecticut Avenue. That sort of thing happened frequently.”