Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where Writers Write: Sofia Samatar

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

Photo by Adauto Araujo

This is Sofia Samatar

Sofia is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press, April 2013). She wrote the first draft of the novel in South Sudan, but she did a lot of revision and rewriting in Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives and writes now. 

She is Nonfiction and Poetry Editor for Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, and blogs at

Where Sofia Samatar Writes

There’s day writing, and there’s night writing.

During the day, I often write at Café Zoma, around the block from my apartment.

I’m always there on weekend afternoons. I like the feeling of being with people and alone at the same time, and I like the soup. Here’s my favorite table:

I write in cafés because I read Ernest Hemingway in high school and never got over it. I will always believe that it is dashing and romantic to write in cafés, even though, unlike Hemingway, I live in a well-heated apartment. You know in A Moveable Feast when he’s writing and drinking rum and café au lait, and that girl comes in with a face like a newly-minted coin, and he finishes the story and orders oysters and white wine and thinks he’s written something really good? This is basically my ideal of the writing life, and it’s what I have at Café Zoma, minus the booze and the oysters and creeping on some girl and Hadley at home alone in the cold apartment wearing all her sweaters.

At night, I write on this chair:

I curl up to write. I can curl up with my laptop, which is very small. It’s terrible for my back. I have to figure out something else.

The mess all over the floor is because you never know what you’re going to need. It’s best to keep everything where you can reach it.

Next week, check back to see where Bill Luvaas puts the pen to the paper.


  1. Great post! The picture with the chair and all the books looks so comfy.

  2. Loved the part about Hadley at home in the cold apartment wearing all her sweaters.

    Try not to get arthritic vertabrae. Good note not to curl up.