What’s your morning ritual?
Hyper music, usually Latin American hip hop. Sit-ups, push-ups, two mugs of coffee.
What’s on your bedside table right now?
Jane Smiley’s Good Faith [a novel about seduction and the ’80s real-estate boom] and Stephanie Nolen’s 28 portraits of AIDS sufferers in Africa – one for each of the million Africans living with the disease.
What do you need to get through the day?
Three mugs of coffee, one chance to check email.
Where do you shop for clothes?
Everyone knows activists wear sackcloth.
What’s your guiltiest indulgence?
Veronica Mars episodes on DVD – but they cancelled the show!
What did you do to celebrate finishing your latest book?
It was 5 a.m. Avi and I popped champagne, blasted Al Green, then collapsed.
What’s your most vivid memory of Baghdad?
The flocks of birds. They would fly in the most erratic patterns, as if shell-shocked.
What do you pack for Baghdad?
[The flower-essence tonic] Rescue Remedy and the cell number of Michael Ratner, board president of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
Who’s the person you’d call from jail?
Which person has intimidated you the most?
I used to be incredibly intimidated by my book editor and publisher, Louise Dennys, because she is so brilliant and has edited so many literary titans including [Michael Ondaatje].
Who do you think people need to pay more attention to?
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia. He is trying to build a new kind of participatory democracy, drawing on indigenous traditions. The experiment is well worth watching.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
[Scientist and activist] Ursula Franklin said, “We know how bad things are, so stop proving it. We need you to tell us, what are we going to do about it?”