Say hello to Hanya Yanagihara. This globetrotting, magazine-editing, book-writing SoHo resident may hold the record for getting through JFK customs in the shortest amount of time (11 minutes, in case you were wondering) but her most recent accomplishment is the release of "People In The Trees". Published by Doubleday Books, the novel documents a 1950s scientist in his quest to discover the secrets of an ancient tribe on the Pacific island of U'ivu. While the island may be fictitious, it's inspiration is anything but – Hanya, also the editor at large at Condé Nast Traveler and a contributing editor at Picador Books, referenced years spent living in Hawaii and travels to the verdant Brazilian coast while developing the exotic, yet imaginary, locale.
(Portrait: Sam Levy)
WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
“1000 Meals,” with each vignette being a story of a meal I had, and where I was – physically and otherwise – at that particular point in my life.
WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT, AND WHY?
I never leave without a little vial of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Voleur des Roses (good for dabbing under your nose when you have a smelly seat-mate); Fresh’s Rose lip treatment (a lip balm that doubles as a swipe of color); books (I figure one per every two days); tweezers (useful in many situations); a statement necklace (hides a multitude of other problems); and lots of dollar bills (useful for tipping, small bribes, on-the-spot visas, etc.)
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO SHOW YOU “THEIR NEW YORK,” WHO WOULD IT BE?
Either one of Richard Price’s detectives, or Lena Dunham’s character from HBO’s Girls.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS?
I love I Sodi, a neighborhood Italian restaurant with excellent, simple pastas and terrific negronis, in the West Village; Hirohisa, understated Japanese with a brief, perfect menu right around the corner from me in SoHo; An Choi, on the Lower East Side, for its chicken pho; Bohemian, in NoHo, which has amazing grilled fish and makes you feel like you’re in someone’s sunken living room; and Kyo Ya, in the East Village, for its pressed sushi.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC BRUNCH SPOTS?
I go to Balaboosta for their chopped cabbage salad, which is livened with lots of mint, and a pomegranate iced tea, or The Butcher’s Daughter, which is mostly vegetarian and has terrific fresh juices.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE UNDER THE RADAR RECOMMENDATION IN NYC?
The United Nations. Anyone interested in modern art should go: it has an incredible selection of site-specific installations and pieces from a very deep and impressive collection – it’s like a museum hidden in plain sight.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ART FIX?
I started collecting art — mostly works on paper — thirteen years ago; I bought my first piece from Yossi Milo, who has an amazing, unerring eye, and has discovered more great talent over the past decade than I can count. His gallery is always a place to find excellent emerging or under-appreciated artists, and Yossi and his staff are very helpful to new collectors.
WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS, AND WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
I only listen to Hawaiian music and Japanese hip-hop: I especially like the Teriyaki Boyz, especially “Work That,” their collaboration with Pharrell.
WHAT ALBUM WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK TO NYC?
“Transformer,” by Lou Reed.