Chigozie Obioma has become an African voice that matters in the literary world. Last year in April -- at only 28 years old -- the Nigerian author published his first novel, The Fishermen (Little, Brown and Company), and swift international acclaim followed. He earned a bounty of literary awards, including being longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction - one of the most prestigious accolades in literature.
Alain Mabanckou is one of the world’s most widely read and acclaimed African authors writing in French. This month his memoir, The Lights of Pointe-Noire, hits bookshelves throughout America.
A poet, essayist and novelist who teaches literature at UCLA, Mabanckou was a Man Booker International Prize finalist in 2015. He is a singular and powerful voice on issues surrounding black identity and culture in the Francophone world, and was handpicked to write the preface to the French edition of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.
Acclaimed author Clifford Thompson writes about jazz, film, literature and American identity, and he received a Whiting Writers' Award for nonfiction in 2013 for his book Love for Sale and Other Essays (Autumn House Press).
He lives on a pretty, tree-lined street in Brooklyn in a building that went up in the 1920s and while he has books everywhere, the majority of them live in four tall brown wood shelves placed against the wall in his living room.
Bryan Calvert is a chef and the co-founder of James restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. With James, which he opened in 2008, Calvert was an early pioneer of the type of seasonally-focused, locally-sourced produce that has come to define the Brooklyn food scene.
We recently caught up with Calvert to talk about cookbooks, homemade furniture, and the literary classics to which he turns when he’s not ensconced in historical detective work.
We first met English author Alice Adams in real life, at a cocktail party in downtown Manhattan, where she had come to celebrate her forthcoming debut novel, Invincible Summer. We met her for the second time in space, on Skype, in mid-April.
Adams' bookshelves are located in "the snug" of her North London home, beside a large window. What is a "snug?" we query. "Oh, is that too English?" she replies, then sources a dictionary translation: "Snug 2 (snŭg). n. Chiefly British. A very small private room in a pub."
"Though obviously it’s not in a pub," she adds. "It’s a smallish room off the living room."