Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Jonathan Franzen talks about his latest novel, Freedom. It’s an epic of contemporary love and marriage that comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty—the thrills of teenage lust, the compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. It tells the story of Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to come to terms with an ever more confusing world.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Kevin Wilson tells us about his new novel, The Family Fang, about performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang, and their children Buster and Annie, who unwillingly starred in their parents’ madcap pieces growing up. Now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Tom Perrotta discusses his latest novel, The Leftovers. It tells what happens when neighbors, friends and lovers suddenly vanish in an event known as the Sudden Departure. It describes what the bewildered citizens of a town called Mapleton go through when people suddenly disappear, and how everything changes—marriages, friendships, as well as the relationships between parents and children.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Julie Otsuka talks about her new novel, The Buddha in the Attic . It tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. She traces their extraordinary lives from journey by boat to San Francisco, to their tremulous first nights as new wives. Once they arrive in this country, they struggle to master a new language and adapt to a new culture, and it looks at their challenges as mothers raising children, who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history.
Hear Jane Kaczmarek reading from The Buddha in the Attic on WNYC's Selected Shorts
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Novelists Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland; Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin; and Julia Glass, author of The Whole World Over, discuss how they addressed 9/11 in their work, the challenges of writing about the attacks and their aftermath, and how 9/11 has influenced their writing, the stories they wanted to tell, and fiction as a whole over the last ten years.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Farah Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, discusses Ann Petry's 1946 novel, The Street, for our final Underappreciated segment of the summer. The Street is about a young single black mother who is trying to save money in order to move her son away from the influence of 116th Street. When it was initially published, it made Petry one of the first female African-American authors to receive significant critical and popular acclaim. Lately, the novel been getting more critical attention for its representation of gender politics within Harlem. It also provides a rich portrait of Harlem at that time—its neighborhoods, business districts, bars, and music clubs, making it more than simply a protest novel.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Helen Schulman discusses her new novel, This Beautiful Life. It tells the story of what happens when a 15-year-old at a private school in Manhattan receives—then forwards to a friend—a sexually explicit video that an eighth-grade admirer sent to him. Within hours, the video has gone viral. The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter his family’s sense of security and identity and, ultimately, their happiness.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
For this week’s Underappreciated segment, Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Chronic City, discusses L. J. Davis's 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life. It’s about a failed writer who attempts to channel his creative energy into real estate, in the form of a decaying Brooklyn mansion-turned-rooming house he buys in the late 1960s. The novel raises questions about gentrification that are still relevant today. Lethem wrote the introduction for New York Review Books release of the novel, grew up down the block from Davis in Boerum Hill.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Jim Shepard tells us about his wildly diverse collection of observant stories, You Think That’s Bad: Stories. His writing shows the vastness of human experience—from the fringes and lonely pinnacles to the hopelessly mediocre and desperately below average—with brilliant scientists, reluctant soldiers, workaholic artists, female explorers, depraved murderers, and deluded losers.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Dr. Seuss fans, rejoice. This fall, seven rare Seuss stories, which were previously printed in Redbook, will be published in book form. The stories — which he wrote between 1950 and 1951 — have fantastically Seussian titles: "The Bippolo Seed," "Zinniga-Zanniga," "Tadd and Todd," and "Gustav the Goldfish." The compilation is called "The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss," and Random House is publishing it in late September.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Amy Waldman discusses her new novel, The Submission . It tells the story of a jury in Manhattan called to select a memorial design for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. When the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name, they discover he is an American Muslim. Their choice casts them into roiling debate about grief, art, Islam, and how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Journalist Nina Darnton talks about her debut novel, An African Affair, set in the mid-1990s flux of worldwide insurrections and war. It tells the story of a New York journalist who moves to Lagos to follow a trail of corruption, drug smuggling, and murder after the assassination of a prominent Nigerian politician.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Our summer book club continues today with host John Hockenberry's first pick for August. John sees summer reading as an opportunity for challenge. He spent one summer reading the Russian literature, and the following summer he devoted his reading to Charles Dickens. This summer, as the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, John decided it was time to tackle a few of the recent novels that deal with that tragic day. His first pick is Jonathan Safran Foer’s "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." The novel follows nine-year-old Oskar Schell in the years after his father dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Foer sat down with John to discuss his 2005 novel.