King, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America, lives in New York but has already spent much of his time this year in Florida. In January, he served as keynote speaker for Eckerd College's Writers in Paradise. In February, he was back again, traveling to Central Florida to participate in a program at the University of Florida's Center for Race and Race Relations, as well as to conduct research in Lake County for a new project. King, 54, attended the University of South Florida and also is the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South.
What's on your nightstand?
I have two books on my nightstand right now, and both are funny as hell. When you write the kind of books I write, you need to have a laugh once in a while. The first is The Sellout by Paul Beatty.
Do you recommend it?
I highly recommend it. I've been laughing nonstop since I started reading, and Beatty is an incredible talent. The second book on my nightstand is an advance copy of Craig Pittman's Oh, Florida!, which his publisher sent to me. I'm a big fan of Pittman's environmental reporting (for the Tampa Bay Times), and Oh, Florida! is both hilarious and historically enlightening. I've been looking forward to this book for a while.
Did a particular book or author make you sensitive to civil rights or the judicial system early on?
I read Papillon by Henri Charriere, which set me on a path of reading novels and memoirs about injustice and the wrongly accused. I came to civil rights much later, where there's no shortage of injustices, past and present.
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.