In terms of playwrights, Lynn Nottage and Kirsten Greenidge. Their voices are distinctive, but both share Lorena's gift for an extraordinary elaboration of ideas and arguments through authentic personality and language. Their work is masterful.
What is your favorite book to assign and discuss with your students at Princeton?
"The Souls of Black Folk" by W. E. B. Du Bois is a gift that continues to make: social history, legal history, Jim Crow, sociology, philosophy. I imagine it is one of the few most taught books in African-American study courses across the country. I also love teaching the story of Jorge Luis Borges "La Lotería" to think about law and punishment.
Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally or intellectually?
Ideally, both. I think the best books unlock something inside, and this requires both intellectual provocation and emotional disarmament. This is what makes me read.
What is the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?
Adult male canaries learn a new song every year to attract mates. It is like a ritual of annual renewal through beauty. I love it. There are many facts in this book by Moheb Costandi entitled "Neuroplasticity", but I am taken by his poetry rather than by science.
What drives you more in a literary work?
The feeling of wonder, having been eliminated, is what makes me vulnerable as a reader. Vulnerability is the key, for me, to be deeply influenced by history.
How do you organize your books?
Very vaguely by genre, which is constantly interrupted because every day I take more books off the shelves and I don't put them back where they belong. It's a problem because there are thousands of books at home and in the office. My lack of discipline always threatens to slip into chaos. A castle of books is even more dangerous than a house of cards! Besides, I like the look of color coding, but I'm not meticulous enough for that.
What book could people be surprised to find on your shelves?
Probably "Blood Wedding and Other Plays" by Federico García Lorca in Spanish. I studied Latin American literature in college and although I lost a lot of my Spanish, there are still works that I prefer in the original.