26 episodes

Novel Dialogue: where unlikely conversation partners come together to discuss the making of novels and what to make of them. Join Aarthi Vadde, a scholar of contemporary literature and Victorianist John Plotz as they take a four-continent journey (ok, fine a virtual four-continent, Zoomish journey….) to talk turkey with novelists and critics the world over.
Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

Novel Dialogue Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz

    • Arts
    • 4.6 • 18 Ratings

Novel Dialogue: where unlikely conversation partners come together to discuss the making of novels and what to make of them. Join Aarthi Vadde, a scholar of contemporary literature and Victorianist John Plotz as they take a four-continent journey (ok, fine a virtual four-continent, Zoomish journey….) to talk turkey with novelists and critics the world over.
Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

    3.6 Why are You in Bed? Why are You Drinking? Colm Tóibín and Joseph Rezek in Conversation

    3.6 Why are You in Bed? Why are You Drinking? Colm Tóibín and Joseph Rezek in Conversation

    Colm Tóibín, the new laureate for Irish fiction, talks to Joseph Rezek of Boston University, and guest host Tara K. Menon of Harvard. The conversation begins with Colm’s latest novel The Magician, about the life of Thomas Mann, and whether we can or should think of novelists as magicians and then moves swiftly from one big question to the next. What are the limitations of the novel as a genre? Would Colm ever be interested in a writing a novel about an openly gay novelist? Why and how does death figure in Colm’s fiction? Each of Colm’s revealing, often deeply personal answers illuminates how both novels and novelists work. As Thomas Mann wrote of the “grubby business” of writing novels, Colm reminds us of the “day to day dullness of novel writing.” Insight and inspiration only arrive, he warns, after long, hard days of work.
    Mentioned in this episode:


    Robinson Crusoe (1719), Daniel Defoe


    Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen


    The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Henry James


    The Wings of the Dove(1902), Henry James


    The Ambassadors (1903), Henry James


    The Golden Bowl(1904), Henry James


    The Blackwater Lightship(1999), Colm Tóibín


    The Master (2004), Colm Tóibín


    Brooklyn(2009), Colm Tóibín


    The Testament of Mary(2012), Colm Tóibín


    Nora Webster(2015), Colm Tóibín


    The Magician(2021), Colm Tóibín


    Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 46 min
    3.5 The Romance of Recovery: Ben Bateman talks to Shola von Reinhold (AV)

    3.5 The Romance of Recovery: Ben Bateman talks to Shola von Reinhold (AV)

    Shola von Reinhold is the author of LOTE, a novel about getting lost in the archives and finding what the archives have lost. LOTE won the 2021 James Tait Black prize so who better to join Shola on Novel Dialogue than Ben Bateman of Edinburgh University, lead judge of the prize committee? This conversation takes listeners back to all yesterday’s parties as Shola, Ben, and Aarthi time travel to the Harlem Renaissance and the interwar modernist era. Shola offers up Richard Bruce Nugent as their current figure of fascination (or “transfixion” to use a key image from LOTE), and wonders what it would have been like to move through Harlem and London by Nugent’s side.
    Recovering the stories of black writers and artists is essential to Shola’s literary project. It is also inseparable from restoring queerness to the once hyper-masculine and “muscular” paradigm of modernism. In a stirring discussion of the aesthetic forms and moods of historical recovery, Ben and Shola sink into the “purpleness” of the fin-de-siècle and explore the critical power of black sensuousness. Talk of decadence, ornamentality, and frivolity shapes the latter half of this episode, and Doris Payne, the West Virginian jewel thief, emerges as an exquisitely improbable modernist heroine!
    Mentioned in this episode:
    -Richard Bruce Nugent
    -Dorothy Heyward and DuBose Heyward, Porgy
    -E.M. Forster
    -David Levering Lewis, When Harlem was in Vogue
    -Saidiya Hartman
    -Benjamin Kahan, The Book of Minor Perverts
    -James Joyce, Ulysses
    -Willa Cather, “Paul’s Case”
    -Ornamentality via Kant, Hegel, and Adolf Loos
    -Susan Sontag
    -Doris Payne – a.k.a “Diamond Doris”
    -Édouard Glissant
    Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 37 min
    3.4 The Work of Inhabiting a Role: Charles Yu speaks to Chris Fan (JP)

    3.4 The Work of Inhabiting a Role: Charles Yu speaks to Chris Fan (JP)

    Charles Yu won the 2020 National Book Award for Interior Chinatown but some of us became fans a decade earlier, with How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010). He brilliantly uses SF conventions to uncover the kind of self-deceptive infilling that we all do every day, the little stories we tell ourselves to make our world seem predictable and safe when it’s anything but. His other work includes two books of short stories (Third Class Superhero 2006 and Sorry Please Thank You in 2012) and some episodes of Westworld, He speaks with John and with Chris Fan, Assistant Professor at UC Irvine, senior editor and co-founder of Hyphen magazine, noted SF scholar.
    The conversation gets quickly into intimate territory: the pockets of safe space and the "small feelings" that families can and cannot provide, and that science fiction can or cannot recreate. Graph paper and old math books get a star turn. Charlie's time as a lawyer is scrutinized; so too is "acute impostor syndrome" and the everyday feeling of putting on a costume or a mask, as well as what Du Bois called "double consciousness."
    In conclusion, we followed the old ND custom of asking Charlie about treats that sustain him while writing. Later, we reached out with this season's question about what new talent he'd love to acquire miraculously. He had a lightning-fast response: "the ability to stop myself from saying a thing I already know I will regret. I would use this on a daily, if not hourly, basis."
    Mentioned:

    Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

    W. E. B. Du Bois on "double consciousness" (and so much more): Souls of Black Folk (1903)

    Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 46 min
    3.3 In the Editing Room with Ruth Ozeki and Rebecca Evans (EH)

    3.3 In the Editing Room with Ruth Ozeki and Rebecca Evans (EH)

    Ruth Ozeki, whose most recent novel is The Book of Form and Emptiness, speaks with critic Rebecca Evans and guest host Emily Hyde. This is a conversation about talking books, the randomness and serendipity of library shelves, and what novelists can learn in the editing room of a movie like Mutant Hunt. Ozeki is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, and her novels unfold as warm-hearted parables that have been stuffed full of the messiness of contemporary life. The Book of Form and Emptiness telescopes from global supply chains to the aisles of a Michaels craft store and from a pediatric psychiatry ward to the enchanted stacks of the public library. The exigencies of environmental storytelling arch over this conversation. Evans asks Ozeki questions of craft (how to move a story through time, how to bring it to an end) that become questions of practice (how to listen to the objects stories tell, how to declutter your sock drawer). And we learn Ozeki’s theory of closure: her novels always pull together at the end so that readers are free to continue pondering the questions they raise.
    Mentioned in this episode:


    Mutant Hunt, directed by Tim Kinkaid (1987)


    My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki (1998)


    All Over Creation, Ruth Ozeki (2003)


    The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki (2021)


    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo (2014)


    Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.
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    • 41 min
    3.2 Promises Unkept: Damon Galgut with Andrew van der Vlies

    3.2 Promises Unkept: Damon Galgut with Andrew van der Vlies

    Guest host Chris Holmes sits down with Booker Prize winning novelist Damon Galgut and Andrew van der Vlies, distinguished scholar of South African literature and global modernisms at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Andrew and Damon tunnel down into the structures of Damon’s newest novel, The Promise to locate the ways in which a generational family story reflects broadly on South Africa’s present moment. The two discuss how lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic invoke for some the limitations on movement during the Apartheid era in South Africa. The Promise is a departure from Damon’s previous two novels, which were peripatetic in their global movement and range. Damon describes the ways in which this novel operates cinematically, as four flashes of a family’s long history, with the disembodied narrator being the one on the move. Damon provocatively divides novels into two traditions: those that provide consolation, and those that can provide true insight on the world but must do so with a cold distance. While he does not call The Promise an allegory, Damon admits to the fun that he has with inside jokes that play with allegorical connections, as long as the reader is in on the joke. Damon directly takes on his choice to leave a pregnant absence in the narrative’s insight into his black characters “sitting at the very heart of the book.”
    Mentioned in this Episode:


    The Promise, Damon Galgut (2021)


    The Good Doctor, Damon Galgut (2004)


    The Conservationist, Nadine Gordimer (1974)


    No Time Like the Present, Nadine Gordimer (2012)


    Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers.
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    • 47 min
    3.1 On Being Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng

    3.1 On Being Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng

    Season three of Novel Dialogue launches in partnership with Public Books and introduces some fresh new voices into the mix. John and Aarthi welcome Chris Holmes, Emily Hyde, Tara Menon, and Sarah Wasserman into the ND pod as guest hosts. And have they brought a series of scintillating conversations with them! In our series premiere, Sarah sits down with acclaimed novelist Chang-rae Lee and Anne Anlin Cheng, renowned scholar of American literature and visual culture at Princeton.
    The conversation goes small and goes big: from the shortest short story to the totalizing effects of capitalism. Chang-rae is no stranger to such shifting scales: his novels sweep through large stretches of time and space, but their attention to detail and meticulous prose makes for an intimate reading experience. Chang-rae’s latest novel, My Year Abroad, fuels a discussion about how we can form meaningful bonds in current conditions (hint: it’s often around a table) and about the specters of other, better worlds that haunt Chang-rae’s fictions. He discusses his relationship to his own work and the benefits of taking an “orbital view” on his writing. Chang-rae also offers a tantalizing glimpse into his current project, a semi-autobiographical novel about Korean-American immigrants in 1970s New York. In response to a brand new signature question for the podcast this season, Chang-rae reveals the talent he wishes he could suddenly have... one that Anne already possesses!
    Mentioned in this Episode


    Crazy Rich Asians, Dir. Jon M. Chu (2018)


    Parasite, Dir. Bong Joon-ho (2019)

    Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is



    Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

on behalf of the team ,

Informative and unpredictable conversations about writing

I learned a lot from this podcast. With the help of insightful questions from the hosts and guest critics, the authors who sat down for these interviews were candid about their writing processes and objectives and what draws them to the form of the novel. Careful listeners will also be rewarded with gossip about how the publishing industry works (or doesn’t). Strongly recommend!

K2021G ,

A novel discussion in more ways than one

As someone who listens to a lot of podcasts (too many, honestly), I've been on the lookout for one about books that isn't either simply interviews with authors about their own novels (which are great in their own way, but end up sometimes feeling like the authors are just running the press circuit), lightly historicist readings of canonical texts, or that end up boiling down to "here's what I've been reading lately and it was good/bad" in some form: listening to Aarthi Vadde, Kelly Rich, and Teju Cole talk about the novel rather than just a novel was really wonderful, and not something I've been able to find in any of the other podcasts I've tried. Looking forward to future episodes!

HilariousCat ,

Engaging, compelling, smart, and fun

Imagine getting to take part in a dynamic and intelligent but also relaxed conversation with an incredible novelist and incredible literary critic. That’s what the first episode was like for me - and I’m excited for later episodes. It’s perfect for students and scholars of the novel, but it would also be great for anyone who reads and likes to think about novels.

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