Location: New York City
Reading spot: My neighborhood Starbucks
Her first book, Push, became the Academy Award–winning film Precious. The novel's long-awaited sequel, The Kid,* was published in July.
I do a lot of my writing at a place in Manhattan called the Writers Room. After a few hours I'll take a break at the Starbucks across the street. I worked on The Kid for more than 10 years, and I'd go over there at all hours, drinking a soy latte or an Americano (high in caffeine but low in calories), reading Dickens or Dostoevsky and taking in the scene. Starbucks doesn't seem to have a move-along policy; for writers, who can't always determine the flow of income, that's important! It's a cavernous space, with high ceilings and cement floors. There are sleekly dressed people getting their $5 drinks, and homeless people in the corner nursing a $1.50 coffee -- all the economic strata, which I find fascinating. I actually incorporated this particular Starbucks into The Kid. It's where Abdul, Precious's son, meets with a dance troupe when he's beginning to work as a professional dancer. He even winds up getting a job there. The place gives me a tremendous sense of connection with my city.
Just read it and loved it:
Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys
"Rhys wrote about women struggling with poverty and alcoholism in Paris in the 1930s. You see that these aren't just African-American issues -- they're universal issues."
Nana, by Emile Zola
"I've been catching up with the classics I never read in college. This one turns out to be a really racy story about a French prostitute."
The Flowers of Evil, by Charles Baudelaire
"I read this with friends and with their support I was able to read some of it in French. That was quite a feat!"