Caricature credit: Simon Monroe
P&P’s new semi-regular mini interview series, in which we ask a variety of customers, authors, politicians, community leaders, teachers, neighbors, and any one else willing to talk to us, a selection of questions—from the serious to the possibly inane—related to books.
If you could interview any author in history, who would it be?
Albert Camus is the author I’d most like to interview. Reading his book L’Etranger at a time when I was a clerk at a bank caused me to reflect in shock and horror on the nature of existence in general, and my existence in particular. I decided I had to live a life with greater purpose. I’ve always wanted to ask Camus about how he arrived at his views on human alienation, existentialism, and the absurdity of life in this world. As I look around at the world today, veering back and forth between reason and absurdity, I’m struck by the dogged persistence of absurdity. I’d still like to talk to Camus about this. My second choice: James Baldwin, to explore all issues identity-related.
Required reading for the next D.C. Mayor?
Hard Revolution, by George Pelecanos, a crime novel with the 1968 riots in D.C. as the backdrop, to understand the ongoing undercurrent of racial issues in D.C. Also This Town, by Mark Leibovich, to understand “the other” Washington, which lives here but is embedded in national politics and policy and largely ignores the District of Columbia. And Washington’s U St: A Biography, by the Historical Society of Washington D.C., to figure out how new development has to reflect the city’s history and evolving culture in a way that bridges racial and economic disparities.
Favorite banned book?
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabakov.
Book you’ve been meaning to read...for years?
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, by Ayi Kwei Armah.
Favorite place to read?