Monday, May 05, 2014
On today’s show: We’ll look into the history of covert operations, stretching all the way back to the Truman Administration. George Prochnik traces the life of Stefan Zweig, and tells us why this major literary star of the 1930s killed himself in 1942. Our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America series continues with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the economics of being poor and whether raising the minimum wage can actually help workers get out of poverty. And Mona Simpson talks about her latest novel, Casebook.
Friday, May 02, 2014
Teju Cole talks about his new novel, Every Day Is for the Thief, about a young Nigerian living in New York City who goes home to Lagos for a visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. He taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to make sense of the profound changes that have taken place in his country and in himself in the 15 years since he moved away.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Zia Haider Rahman discusses her debut novel, In the Light of What We Know, set during the war and financial crisis that defined the beginning of this century. One September morning in 2008, an investment banker whose career and marriage are collapsing receives a surprise visitor at his West London townhouse. In the disheveled figure of a South Asian male carrying a backpack, the banker recognizes a long-lost friend, a mathematics prodigy who disappeared years earlier under mysterious circumstances.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Evie Wyld, one of Granta magazine's Best Young British Novelists, discusses her new book, All The Birds, Singing, about a young woman living in an old farmhouse on a British island where her disobedient collie and a flock of sheep are her sole companions. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep. Is it foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, or an obscure, formidable beast?
Friday, April 25, 2014
The Herald of Glasgow called Alistair MacLeod was “one of the greatest living writers in English.” That’s despite the fact that the Canadian’s output was relatively small. He only published one novel, No Great Mischief, (which he wrote over the course of 13 years), and fewer than two dozen short stories (which were all collected in the volume, Island). Rugged Cape Breton was his emotional heartland, and where he set most of his fiction. A perfectionist, he explained, “I take a lot of time thinking about what I’m writing.” He died recently at the age of 77. And you can hear Leonard’s interview with him from January, 2001.
Monday, April 21, 2014
In October, 1982 fiction and non-fiction writer Eileen Simpson joined Reader’s Almanac host Walter James Miller to discuss her third book, Poets in Their Youth: A Memoir . The work is based on her years of intimacy with some of the major writers of our time. John Berryman, Delmore Schwartz, Robert Lowell, and Edmund Wilson to name a few.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Isla Morley discusses her novel Above. It’s about a teenager who’s abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
For the past four years novelist David Bezmozgis has been writing a book set in Crimea. His forthcoming novel, The Betrayers, was intended to be set in August 2014, but that isn't possible now. Brooke speaks with Bezmozgis, as he sits between manuscript lock and book release, about trying to adjust his fictional story set in a fraught, factual place.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Susan Minot talks about her new novel, Thirty Girls, about two extraordinary young women confronting displacement, heartbreak, and the struggle to find meaning from events that test them. Esther is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army who struggling to survive, to escape, and to find a way to live with what she has seen and done. Jane is an American journalist who has traveled to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther and to find her center after a series of failed relationships.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Dinaw Mengestu talks about his latest novel, All Our Names. It’s the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university into the clamor of the streets. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into danger, the other into the safety of exile in America, where he is haunted by the friend he left behind.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Mohsin Hamid talks about his new novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It’s a tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, and it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia.” It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water.
Friday, March 07, 2014
Fortune magazine’s Richard Martin explains why the American coal industry isn’t going down without a fight. Then, Donald Margulies talks about the Roundabout’s revival of his play, “Dinner with Friends,” with Darren Pettie and Jeremy Shamos who star in the production. Helen Oyeyemi discusses her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird. Set in 1953, it tells the story of a woman named Boy who moves to a small town in Massachusetts in search of beauty—and finds something much more complicated. Plus, our latest Please Explain is all about why sitting—on our couches, on the subway, at our desks, in our cars—can be so bad for us over the long term.
Friday, March 07, 2014
Helen Oyeyemi talks about her novel Boy, Snow, Bird. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking for a new life. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. When Bird has a baby who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white.