Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author at the Atlantic. His book, Between the World and Me, won the National Book Award, and was spoofed on SNL. He’s writing the (awesome) Black Panther series for Marvel. He’s a certified MacArthur Genius. And he just released a blockbuster story based on hours of interviews with President Obama about the role race played in Obama’s upbringing, his presidency, and the 2016 campaign.
Coates is also one of my favorite people to talk to, and I think this conversation shows why.
The first half of our conversation is political: it’s about Coates’s conversations with Obama, his impressions of the president, his perspective on American politics, the way his atheism informs his worldview, why he thinks a tragic outlook is important for finding the truth but — at least for nonwhite politicians — a hindrance for winning political power.
The second half is much more personal: it’s about his frustrations as a writer, his discomfort with the way “Between the World and Me” was adopted by white audiences, how he learns, his surprising advice for young writers, his belief that personal stability enables professional wildness, his past as a blogger, his desire to return to school, his favorite books.
I loved this interview. I think you will, too.