4thcoming: Zinzi Clemmons

The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors.  If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.

Name: Zinzi Clemmons

Occupation: Writer, editor, college professor.

What you’re reading: The Confines of the Shadow vol. 2 by Alessandro Spina, an epic novel in 11 cycles about the Libyan colonial period, translated by my husband, the poet Andre Naffis-Sahely.

What you’re listening to: Currently alternating between Solange’s A Seat At the Table and Drake’s More Life, which I like more than I often care to admit.

What you’re watching: Home improvement shows, Real Housewives, and reruns of 30 Rock and Peep Show.

Favourite word(s): Somnambulant

Favourite song: A tie between Erykah Badu’s Green Eyes and Sonic Youth’s Teenage Riot.

Living person you most admire: Jeremy Corbyn. If you guys decide you don’t want him, can you send him to the US?

The trait you most deplores in yourself: I’m overly critical, but I’m also pretty sure that’s also what makes me a good writer. Oh well.

The trait you most deplores in others: Cowardice, and its cousin, timidity.

The book you wish you’d written: Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a masterwork.

The book everyone should read: James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

Writing ritual: Besides procrastination, I’m not sure I have any.

Best advice ever received: Don’t listen to anyone in your writing workshop!

If you could change one thing about the world: Everyone would have only as much money as they need, and no more.

Think of something beautiful: People loving each other, helping each other.

The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read: I’m going to take liberty and name the most memorable paragraph I’ve ever read: the opening of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (which is in my top 10 books everyone should read). It’s too racy for me to repeat here. Seriously, just read it.

If you weren’t writing: I’d be plotting some other way to take over the world.

Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of your book? Zoe Kravitz and Octavia Spencer as Thandi and her mother.

Best place to write? The best place to write is in a grungy coffee shop, with good people watching, and where they let you stay as long as you like. These places tend to have a few identifying features: old furniture that looks fished out of a dumpster, disinterested staff, good music, and they usually serve alcohol. Pro tip.


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