Michael Levy is an educator, writer, and traveler, who teaches in Brooklyn, New York, at Saint Ann's School. He is the author of Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion, and he returns frequently to Guiyang to check in on his students and visit the basketball courts where he momentarily attained stardom. While in the United States, he keeps strictly kosher. While in China, he eats anything with four legs except the table.
Where are you from?
Born in Chicago, raised in Philly.
Who are your favorite writers?
The three Daves: Dave Eggers, Dave Sedaris, and Dave Sirota. I'm also in love with Haruki Murakami.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
There are a few China memoirs that helped inspire me: Pete Hessler's River Town, Jan Wong's Red China Blues, and John Pomfret's Chinese Lessons. Josh Swiller's The Unheard is another Peace Corps memoir that I found compelling.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Playing basketball and watching baseball. Brewing and then drinking beer.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
"It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission."
What is your favorite quote?
"If you have to fart, fart! If you have to shit, shit! You will feel much better for it." Chairman Mao, telling Party members to criticize him if they felt he was in error. He soon purged anyone who farted.
What is the question most commonly asked by your readers? What is the answer?
Q: Did you really eat dog?A: Yes! (But don't tell Latke, my pug)
What inspired you to write your first book?
The voices of my students.
Where do you write?
Coffee shops here in the U.S., and tea houses when I'm in China. I need people around me or I start to go crazy.
Henry Holt and Co.
An irreverent tale of an American Jew serving in the Peace Corps in rural China, which reveals the absurdities, joys, and pathos of a traditional society in flux
In September of 2005,...