282 episodes

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels

Bookclub BBC

    • Society & Culture

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels

    Tayari Jones - An American Marriage

    Tayari Jones - An American Marriage

    Tayari Jones discusses An American Marriage, which won the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019. The novel tells the story of Roy and Celestial, a newly wed and successful African-American couple in Atlanta whose marriage is tested when the husband is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit.

    The book tackles the shadow cast by the judicial system over many African-American lives. Tayari tells Bookclub how the novel was inspired by an exchange she overheard between a man and a woman at a shopping mall. "The woman said - Roy, you wouldn't have waited on me for seven years. And he said, This wouldn't have happened to you in the first place."

    Presented by James Naughtie and including questions from this month's group of readers.

    To take part in future Bookclubs, email bookclub@bbc.co.uk

    December's Bookclub Choice : Legend of a Suicide by David Vann (2009)

    Presenter : James Naughtie
    Interviewed Guest : Tayari Jones
    Producer : Dymphna Flynn
    Studio Manager : Emma Harth

    • 29 min
    Joseph O'Connor - Star of the Sea

    Joseph O'Connor - Star of the Sea

    Joseph O'Connor talks about his novel of Irish emigration at the time of the Famine, Star of the Sea with James Naughtie and readers.

    In the winter of 1847, the Star of the Sea sets sails from Ireland for New York. Among the refugees are a maidservant, a bankrupt aristocrat, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads. As we learn each of their stories, we also learn how each is connected more deeply than they know.

    The novel has its roots in Connemara, with the characters being connected to the land and the sea. At the heart of the story is the threatening figure of Pius Mulvey – the balladeer and adventurer who turns bad as the story unfolds. As one reader asks, is Pius Mulvey Jack the Lad, or is he Jack the Ripper? Mulvey stalks the decks of the ship like some kind of embodiment of the tragedy that’s overtaken the old country.

    Joseph O’Connor explains how he created the character of Pius, his ambivalent relationship with Dickens who has a cameo role in the book, and how he has a connection to Connemara from childhood holidays; plus his hopes that the novel will keep the story of the Famine alive for the next generation of Irish people.

    To take part in our Bookclub recording with Tana French on the Wych Elm email bookclub@bbc.co.uk

    November's Bookclub Choice : An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (2018)

    Presenter : James Naughtie
    Interviewed Guest : Joseph O'Connor
    Producer : Dymphna Flynn
    Studio Manager : Tim Heffer

    • 27 min
    Oyinkan Braithwaite - My Sister, The Serial Killer

    Oyinkan Braithwaite - My Sister, The Serial Killer

    Oyinkan Braithwaite talks about her novel My Sister, The Serial Killer, a story full of deadpan wit and dark humour about two sisters in Lagos.

    Korede is bitter and jealous of her beautiful sister Ayoola, who is the favourite child. A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works is the bright spot in her life and she dreams of the day when he will realize they're perfect for each other. But after Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row dies, and the doctor asks Korede for her sister's phone number, she knows that things can't stay the same.

    My Sister, the Serial Killer was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 and longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019.

    Oyinkan Braithwaite talks to presenter James Naughtie and a group of readers from her home in Lagos, Nigeria

    To take part in future Bookclubs, email bookclub@bbc.co.uk

    October's Bookclub Choice : Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor (2003)

    Presenter : James Naughtie
    Interviewed Guest : Oyinkan Braithwaite
    Producer : Dymphna Flynn

    • 27 min
    Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    James Naughtie and Louise Welsh discussed Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    • 27 min
    Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    August's edition is a Classic Bookclub - Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped - and is part of BBC Radio 4's ongoing support for students during the Covid-19 crisis. In the absence of Stevenson, our guide to the book is author Louise Welsh, who has written an opera inspired by him.

    Kidnapped is one Stevenson’s best loved titles. It’s an historical adventure novel set in Scotland after the Jacobite rising of 1745 and tells the adventures of the recently orphaned sixteen year old David Balfour, as he journeys through the dangerous Scottish Highlands in an attempt to regain his rightful inheritance.

    James Naughtie says : "As a young boy Robert Louis Stevenson was my guide to adventure. Kidnapped was always at hand and, like Treasure Island, it introduced me to great story-telling. A boy alone in a country torn apart by war, betrayed by a sad but wicked uncle, and a coming-of-age through adversity. Reading it again, I can still feel the thrill of the first time. That's what great books do".

    Author Louise Welsh has said “I think if you were to stop any Scottish writer and ask them to list their top three writers that made them want to write they would mention Stevenson. He’s always been number one for me.”

    Bookclub on Kidnapped is recorded as always with an audience of readers, including members of the RLS Club, local school children and university students, at the Hawes Inn, Queensferry, where Stevenson is thought to have started the novel in 1866. The programme was first broadcast in November 2016.

    An unabridged reading of Kidnapped is available on BBC Sounds.

    Presenter James Naughtie
    Interviewed guest : Louise Welsh
    Producer : Dymphna Flynn

    September's Bookclub Choice : My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2019)

    • 27 min
    Scott Turow - Presumed Innocent

    Scott Turow - Presumed Innocent

    Scott Turow talks about his first thriller, Presumed Innocent, with James Naughtie and a group of readers. The novel was first published in Britain in 1987 and Scott's books have since sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. The novel was seen as groundbreaking as it spawned a whole generation of legal thrillers.

    Presumed Innocent is the story of lawyer Rusty Sabich who's investigating the brutal murder of a beautiful and ambitious female colleague, Carolyn Polhemus. In the first twist of many in the novel, Rusty, who is married, was once Carolyn's lover, a fact he tries to conceal from his boss, the Prosecuting Attorney. In a further twist Rusty finds himself on trial for the murder, and the evidence against him mounts. Rusty is defended by Sandy Stern, who goes on to appear in Scott Turow's subsequent books, including his new novel, The Last Trial.

    To join in a future Bookclub discussion email us at bookclub@bbc.co.uk

    August's Bookclub Choice : Kidnapped by RL Stevenson

    Presenter: James Naughtie
    Invited Guest: Scott Turow
    Producer : Dymphna Flynn

    • 28 min

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