Arrivals and Departures

This week's episode features “Strangers in the House,” by Nahid Rachlin, performed by Freda Foh Shen, and “A Disappearance,” by Julie Otsuka, performed by Jane Kaczmarek.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A couple with a rocky marriage learn a life lesson when their home is invaded, and a whole community disappears in a powerful story about the Japanese internment, leaving their bewildered, or blinkered, neighbors behind.

Our first story is Nahid Rachlin’s “Strangers in the House,” in which a prosperous couple who have drifted apart find their holiday home filled with slackers. Iranian-born Rachlin is the author of the memoir Persian Girls, four novels--"Jumping Over Fire," "Foreigner," "Married to a Stranger," and "The Heart’s Desire," as well as the short story collection Veils.  Reader Freda Foh Shen’s theatre, film, and televison credits include Genet’s “The Balcony,” “Crossing Delancey,” and “Basic Instinct,” and roles on shows such as “24” and “Boston Legal.”

Julie Otsuka has carved out an American subject—the displacement and internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II—and treated it masterfully in her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, from which we have broadcast several excerpts. These have all been written from the point of view of the Japanese-Americans themselves as they try to cope with the catastrophe befalling them. In the work you are about to hear, “A Disappearance,” the point of view is that of their neighbors, the white Americans they lived among. “A Disappearance” is part of Otsuka’s new novel, and she discusses her work in an interview with Isaiah Sheffer. Listen to the full interview here:

The reader is Jane Kaczmarek, a star of the popular television series "Malcolm in the Middle." The musical interlude is “Chidori,” from The Ongaku Masters, and the SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, click here. We’re interested in your response to these programs.  Please comment on this site or visit

WEB ONLY SPECIAL! 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Leo Tolstoy.  Go to the link below to hear SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer read from one of this most powerful works, "The Kreutzer Sonata."

Comments [4]

Rena Stavrolakes from New York City

I like the way Nahid Rachlin takes the themes of past & present, youth & aging & weaves them throughout the story. I love the whole absurd conflict in the piece & how it brings them together in the end.

Oct. 24 2010 07:47 PM
Simone from Utica, NY

Hearing "A Disappearance" read aloud on my local radio station last night was an introduction for me to Otsuka's work and left me transfixed; I will definitely get the book. Thank you.

Oct. 19 2010 11:11 AM
RG from NY

Nahid Rachlin paints incredible pictures in the minds of her readers with her eloquent language. Her words especially come to life when they are spoken and heard. I would love to hear more!

Oct. 18 2010 12:53 PM
valerie Newman

Once again, Julie Otsuka's descriptive powers overwhelm the "reader"/listener. Look forward to reading the completed book.

Oct. 17 2010 06:22 PM

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