Q: You’re obviously having fun. I am 77 years old—but in real life I’m 23. I have no idea why—I don’t remember doing anything at 23. But I know all this absence of cartilage stuff is insulting!
Q: Do you ever think about your legacy? I should, because I had an awkward moment some years ago when I was in England for a reading. The [moderator] onstage asked me how I would like to be remembered, and I said as trustworthy, as embracing, as someone in whose company you always felt a little bit better. And some black girls [in the balcony] said, “What are you talking about? You mean you have won the Nobel Prize and all you want to be is trustworthy?” They were furious.
Q: What was your reaction? I was so taken aback. And I said I wasn’t thinking about them or the world. I was thinking about my children, my sister, my mother, my father. I wanted to be remembered as somebody they could trust. But those girls wanted me to be remembered as “the first black person, the first female…”
Q: Well, I suppose there’s something in between, yes? There’s nothing in between.