The Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour is a weekly show featuring interviews, readings and discussions about all things literary. Hosted by LARB Editor-at-Large Kate Wolf, Managing Editor Medaya Ocher, and Gender and Sexuality Editor, Eric Newman.
Kink Lit: A Conversation with R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell
In a special LARB Book Club edition of the Radio Hour, Eric Newman and Boris Dralyuk sit down with R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, co-editors of Kink, a new anthology that aims to push the boundaries of traditional literary representations of love, desire, and sexual behavior. Kink features work by Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, and many other leading authors. Kwon and Greenwell speak of their goals for the anthology, the literary history of sex, and the politics in the background and at the heart of the book.
The Delightful Rage of Fran Lebowitz Revisited
In this encore presentation, on the occasion of Fran Lebowitz's new show Pretend It's a City, Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf speak with legendary public speaker Fran Lebowitz. In a wide-ranging conversation, the gang flits from the Kavanaugh hearings to how the uber-rich have blighted the landscape of New York, from the escapism of literature (Lebowitz maintains that books are always better than real life) to the changes that have rocked the media environment in which Lebowitz has been a central figure for decades. In her iconic unvarnished style, Fran proves — as if there were ever any need for such a thing — that she’s still one of the most fascinating people to chat with about the lofty and mundane.
Also, Eric recommends classicist Madeline Miller's novel, The Song of Achilles, that brings to life the love affair between Patroclus and Homeric Greece's greatest warrior.
National Book Award Winner Charles Yu Interior Chinatown: Satire, Metafiction, & Anti-Racist Critique
In an encore presentation, Kate and Medaya talk with award-winning screenwriter and novelist Charles Yu about his book, Interior Chinatown; an experimental, yet eminently enjoyable, novel-in-the-form-of-a-screenplay, which won the 2020 National Book Award for fiction. Charles discusses how he came to write such a formally challenging book, in which the central character's world is defined by, and limited to, the horizons available to Asian and Asian-American characters in popular film and television.
Also, J Hoberman, author of Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan, returns to recommend Victor Serge's recently discovered Notebooks from 1936-47, in which the great communist writer lived in exile, from Paris to Mexico.
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio: The Undocumented Americans
Author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio joins co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to talk about The Undocumented Americans, which is both a memoir and a series of essays about immigrant laborers from across the country. Karla shares her own experiences as an immigrant child, the trauma it has caused her; and relates how widespread, and under-acknowledged, such trauma is among immigrants. In a free-flowing conversation, Karla reflects on what motivated her to write the book in the age of Trump, her love of the immigrant communities in Queens where she grew up (as did Medaya), how literary academia continues to fetishize mental illness, and much else.
Also, Alex Ross, author of Wagnerism, returns to recommend Rick Perlstein's Reaganland.
Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva
Big Freedia is a 21st Century musical trailblazer from the Dirty South, who emerged from the Bounce music scene in New Orleans and has helped popularize the genre across the country and the world. Big Freedia joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to discuss her new memoir God Save the Queen Diva; and talk about how she, and dance club culture in general, has responded to the global pandemic.
In this, the final show of 2020, Kate, Eric, and Medaya also talk about the tunes that helped them survive this most benighted of years.
Also, Kiese Laymon, author of How to Kill Yourself and Others in America, returns to recommend I Don't Like the Blues by B. Brian Foster.
Best of the Worst Year Ever Show
Kate, Medaya, and Eric look back at a year that many of us can't wait to put behind us. Against the background of the pandemic and the politics, the hosts review the books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and quirky new hobbies that helped them get through this year in their annual best of round-up.