Novelist Sarah Dunn Is Big in Ukraine

Photo: Lizzie Himmel

Name: Sarah Dunn
Age: You first
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Occupation: Writer, author of the novel The Big Love and the upcoming Secrets to Happiness (Little, Brown)

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
It has to be Woody Allen. I’ve managed to block out the whole Soon-Yi thing. I just pretend it never happened. I’m such a Woody enabler, if I were Mia, I would have looked the other way.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
It was a crazy chef’s tasting menu at Per Se, six hours long, with a different type of drink with each course. The sake was filtered drop by drop through a silk kimono hanging inside of an igloo for twelve years, I think, but the details are very fuzzy.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Write, worry, write more, worry, call my agent and bug him; he tells me I'm big in Ukraine and I think about that for a few hours.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
If I was 22 and fearless I would. When I was 22, I was too afraid to come to New York, so I lived in Philly.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Harvey Fierstein. He almost knocked me down on 44th Street as he was running into that ribs place.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
On a case-by-case basis, yes. It would probably be easier to just do it all the time, or never, because as it is, I get involved in all sorts of complicated moral calculations just walking down the street.

What’s your drink?
Chardonnay that tastes like somebody put a stick of butter in it.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
At least four times a week.

What’s your favorite medication?
Somebody else’s dental-strength Vicodin.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
A big antique mirror from France.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
I had a boyfriend who used to go to Supercuts on Columbus Avenue, and they charged something like eighteen dollars for a cut, but an extra two bucks if you wanted them to wash your hair first. He refused to pay for it, so they’d just squirt his head with a spray bottle. I’m pretty sure you should spend more than that.

When’s bedtime?
These days, 8 p.m. or earlier — whenever our five-month-old son falls asleep.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The new one. I get excited when I’m in Times Square. I see all the lights and the people and my heart does a little leap. I feel like a rube, but I don’t care.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
As one of the last eight people on the planet who TiVo’s The Apprentice, any claims I make to loathe him will ring hollow.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Even though we have a small apartment, my husband still finds ways to buy expensive wine and hide it from me. For example, he doesn’t know I know there’s currently a case of 2005 Bordeaux under the baby's crib.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Whoever decided to put television sets in the back of taxicabs.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Two weeks ago. I drove my Prius to Brooklyn and felt sanctimonious.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It's made it harder to pretend I can afford a summer place in Iceland.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
The New York Observer, of course.

Where do you go to be alone?
The bathtub.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
I wish someone would tell me. I’ve lived here off and on for fifteen years and I still feel like I just fell off the turnip truck.

Sarah Dunn will read and sign copies of Secrets to Happiness at Barnes & Noble at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street on Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.