Photo: Lauren Tamaki “When you are writing a novel, you are always trying to submerge yourself in a dream state, and New York was constantly waking me up from that state,” says Danzy Senna. She’s sitting outdoors at a shady café in South Pasadena, California, roughly 2,400 miles from Brooklyn, where she once lived and from which she drew inspiration for her propulsive new novel, New People . South Pasadena, the sweet and sleepy town where we both currently reside, is not Brooklyn — it’s more like a Southern California hallucination of Mayberry. Its leafy streets and Craftsman houses regularly stand in for a middle-American idyll in movies, TV shows, and commercials. (The swaying palm trees reliably get cropped out of the frame.) Suburban L.A.’s low-stimulus environment has proved far more conducive to Senna’s writing than the boho hyperactivity of New York. Senna is the 46-year-old author of five books, including her celebrated 1998 debut novel, Caucasia , and all of her work explores the nuances of being mixed race in America with stinging humor and acuity. But, in some ways, “the central identity conflict in my life has been New York versus L.A.,” she says. “I became an […]
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