Podularity is an online books programme that features interviews with writers in a wide variety of genres. Join host, George Miller, in conversation with novelists, poets and authors of non-fiction. Think of it as an on-going literary festival online.
Fiona Sampson on Limestone Country
W H Auden wrote: when I try to imagine a faultless love Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur Of underground streams, but what I see is a limestone landscape Fiona Sampson too hears the murmur of underground streams. She describes at the start of her recent book Limestone Country the shock, the epiphany, of realising that most of her favourite places were made from, and in and on, limestone: a cottage in West Oxfordshire; a hamlet in Périgord in southern France; the Karst region of western Slovenia; the city of Jerusalem. She writes: ‘Really living in these landscapes means paying radical attention to how they behave. It means knowing their wildlife as well as ways of farming, observing how water and vegetation respond to the mineral facts of rock and soil as much as how humans live in and with them.’ Responding ‘to the mineral facts’ – that might be a good way of thinking about her book. When I met Fiona earlier this year, I was keen to hear …
Alison Leslie Gold, ‘salvager of other people’s stories’
This is a podcast I produced for Notting Hill Editions with Alison Leslie Gold, who is perhaps best known for her book Anne Frank Remembered, which she wrote with Miep Gies, one of the people who protected the Frank family during the war. Before her collaboration on that book, Alison had experienced a lost decade, in which she descended into alcohol addiction. Writing the Anne Frank book represented a return to life, a rediscovery of interest in other people and their stories. Other stories were to follow. She became, as she puts it, ‘a miner, a midwife, a salvager of other people’s stories’. But, as she writes in the Prologue to her new book, Found and Lost: She goes on: When I met Alison in London last autumn she began by telling me more about the book’s origins: Alison Leslie Gold The book started as a kind of treatise on close friends dying. It’s in five parts and it’s about six deaths; the first part was initially published by a small press connected to …
Ishiguro on Nocturnes
And here is the part of my interview with Kazuo Ishiguro in which I talk to him about his short story collection, Nocturnes. This was recorded first (hence it’s part 1) but six years on, my feeling is that Part 2 is in fact the best place to start as he sets his earlier books in context.
Two-part interview with 2017 Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro
Half a dozen years ago, I was delighted to be asked by Faber & Faber to interview Kazuo Ishiguro for a special two-part podcast to mark the publication of his first collection of short stories, Nocturnes. In the first part, we focused on the new book, and in the second I asked him about his background, previous novels, and the effects of early success (and intriguingly, he makes what I think must have been one of his first public indication that he was working on an idea which would become the 2015 novel, The Buried Giant). To listen to the podcasts, click on the links below. To whet your appetite, here are a couple of extracts from our conversation. Kazuo Ishiguro Early on, when I was six or seven, I very much thought of Japan as my home and I very much thought we were about to return at any moment. And I was much more in touch with Japanese culture then. I was being sent comics and books so there was an attempt to …
The hammer and the cross – rethinking the Vikings
I heard an interesting interview with Robert Ferguson on the New York Times Books podcast at the weekend in which he talked about his new book on Scandinavia (“an engaging, layered look into a culture,” New York Times). It reminded me that I did an interview with Robert a few years ago when his new history of the Vikings, The Hammer and the Cross, came out. I listened again to that interview this morning on the dog walk and thought I’d repost it here. In the interview, Robert told me: “One of the most important reasons for the outbreak of the age [of Viking raids and conquests] was acts of cultural self-defence. Almost – it is anachronistic – but almost terrorism. They couldn’t defeat the might of the [Christianizing] Frankish empire on the battlefield, so they resorted, as many a small culture will do when it’s under cultural threat, to terrorist-like activities, violent manifestations on frankly soft targets, monasteries and so on. “And of course there was money to be had and things to be …
Philip Hoare on Leviathan
I see that Philip Hoare is publishing the third volume of his trilogy about the sea next week. RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR comes nine years after his award-winning book on the culture and history of whales, Leviathan, so I though I would re-present the interview I did with Philip about that book back then in a coffee shop in Bath (to listen click on the player above or download here)… As the publisher’s blurb puts it: The story of a man’s obsession with whales, which takes him on a personal, historical and biographical journey – from his childhood to his fascination with Moby-Dick and his excursions whale-watching. All his life, Philip Hoare has been obsessed by whales, from the gigantic skeletons in London’s Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales have a mythical quality – they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious. In ‘Leviathan’, Philip Hoare seeks to locate and identify this obsession. What impelled Melville to write ‘Moby-Dick’? After his book …