Describe your latest book.
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
is a fairy-tale of New York (well, mostly New York). New York with added genies (jinn).
It's about a jinnia princess, Dunia, who acquires a large number of human offspring, and uses them to help her battle an invasion of our world by the "dark jinn," who really are awful. And it's about a gardener, Mr. Geronimo, who during the "time of the strangenesses" comes detached from the earth; and his love affair with Dunia, even though she is his great-great-great-great-etc.-grandmother; and his part in the war of the worlds. And it's about quite a bit of other stuff too.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
. I'm afraid I already wrote it myself.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
I went to see Flannery O'Connor's
home in Milledgeville and was saddened by its condition. On another day I visited Faulkner's
home, Rowan Oak, and Elvis Presley's home, Graceland, on the same day. But my favorite was climbing the Martello tower where Stephen Dedalus lived in Ulysses
. When you come out onto the terrace at the top, you are actually walking into the opening scene of the novel, alongside stately, plump Buck Mulligan.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." (The opening sentence of One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez.)
What's your biggest grammatical pet peeve?
Split infinitives. (Except for "to boldly go where no man has gone before," which I excuse.)
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I met a very well-dressed Indian gentleman of about my age on a street in Midtown Manhattan and, after checking that I was me, he said, "I just wanted to tell you that V. S. Naipaul
is 10 times as good a writer as you." "Okay," I said, "Then you must be pleased, because now you've told me." "Yes," he said, "I just wanted you to know." Then he walked on.
Do you have a favorite font? Does it change depending on the project?
I always use Palatino when I write, though these answers are written in Optima, also created by Hermann Zapf. I am toying with the idea of changing to Optima for the next book.
Five great fantastic/surrealist/fabulist novels:
The Baron in the Trees
by Italo Calvino
The Master and Margarita
by Mikhail Bulgakov
by Juan Rulfo
by Kurt Vonnegut
by Franz Kafka