Kate Gavino, author and illustrator of Last Night’s Reading, shares her “Seven Book Characters and Authors I’d Like to Have at My Ideal Dinner Party” with the Penguin Hotline:
My “ideal dinner party” is something I’d rather fantasize about than actually make a reality. The thought of cleaning, cooking, looking Instagram-appropriate, and organizing the affair sounds exhausting. The more I think about it, the more elaborate it becomes, because I know it will never happen. First of all, the party would take place in a dog-friendly apartment that looks and smells like an Anthropologie store. Secondly, all the food will look as though it came straight from a Miyazaki film. Lastly, the party will exist in an alternate universe where all my guests are alive at the same time and are also my close, personal friends, so there will be no awkward introductions needed. Now that we have the rules settled, here is who I would invite:
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: I would invite Tess because during lulls in the conversation, she could launch into a dreamy soliloquy about the stars. Then we could all lecture her on her life decisions.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine by Elaine Dundy: Charming but kind of obnoxious, Sally Jay would be the life of the party. She would bring wine from France and mispronounce its name. She’s also most likely the first person to cry at this party.
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: Fa Mu Lan is at this dinner party because she always has my back, especially in uncomfortable social situations. Much like the way she beheads generals and barons, she quickly cuts off anyone who brings up GamerGate.
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith: This is my way of having Zadie Smith at the party, which will lead to her being my best friend. I will arrange the seating so that I am on her right and Tess is on her left. She has to choose me over Tess.
Claudine by Colette: I mostly want Claudine there to be a foil to Sally Jay. I think it’s fun to have good-natured tension at a party. Once Sally Jay has one too many glasses and begins complaining about France, I’m sure some Colette-penned clapbacks will be greatly entertaining.
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser: I’m inviting Carrie for Tess, in the hope that Carrie’s sinful, material-loving ways will rub off on provincial, God-fearing Carrie. Around 11pm, they’ll leave together to score some sock garters.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: At the end of the night I will corner Marie because I just have so many questions. What do you do with clothes that don’t spark joy now but have the potential to spark joy in the future? What was with that chapter about bowel movements and cleaning? Should I talk to my shoes more? Then we’ll all hug it out and cry together because it’s not a party unless someone cries.
Thanks, Kate Gavino!