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Interviews with Writers about their New Books

New Books in Literature New Books Network

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Interviews with Writers about their New Books

    P. Djèlí Clark, "Ring Shout" (Tordotcom, 2020)

    P. Djèlí Clark, "Ring Shout" (Tordotcom, 2020)

    P. Djèlí Clark’s new novella, Ring Shout (Tordotcom, 2020) is a fantasy built around an ugly moment in American history—the emergence of the second Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century.
    The story follows three monster hunters: Maryse Boudreaux, who wields a magic sword; Chef, who had previously disguised herself as a man to serve with the Harlem Hellfighters during World War I; and Sadie, a sharpshooter who calls her Winchester rifle Winnie.
    The monsters are Ku Kluxes—member of the KKK who have transformed into huge, six-eyed, pointy-toothed, flesh-eating demons.
    The idea to turn hate-filled racists into larger-than-life demons came from Clark’s work as a historian. (In addition to an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Clark is a professor of history at the University of Connecticut.)
    When reading narratives of formerly enslaved individuals collected by the Federal Writers' Project, he’d been struck by the way they described the KKK. “They often talk about them … wearing simply a pillowcase, sometimes having bells on them, sometimes having horns or tails. And they speak of them as haints, that is as ghosts and spirits,” Clark says.
    Clark’s two careers—historian and fiction writer—have grown side by side (his first major publication, A Dead Djinn in Cairo, was published the day he defended his PhD.) While he has tried to keep the careers separate (by writing under a pen name), Clark believes they complement each other.
    Fiction can help restore stories lost to history, he says.
    “Finding the voices of enslaved people, finding out what they thought is very difficult. There weren't a lot of people going around asking them what they thought during that time. And so what you have to do, for instance, if you're trying to understand an enslaved person, you might read a lot of court records or you might try to read what their owners thought and then you have to speculate and piece together that enslaved person's life.”
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 32 min
    Deni Ellis Bechard, "A Song from Faraway" (Milkweed Editions, 2020)

    Deni Ellis Bechard, "A Song from Faraway" (Milkweed Editions, 2020)

    A young man visits his half-brother in Vancouver and steals a book that changes his life. An archeology student is befriended and brought to Iraq by a brother and sister who need his help in assessing a family art collection. A man who fought for the British in South Africa’s Boer War enlists as an American to fight in WWI Germany. Spanning decades and continents, the stories in Bechard’s haunting novel A Song from Faraway (Milkweed Editions, 2020) slowly reveal themselves to be connected. In these pages, the lies of one generation are inherited by the next, homes are burnt to the ground, wives are abandoned, and innocent people suffer. With gripping portrayals of fathers and sons, mothers and siblings, passion and pain – this is a moving, non-linear novel about the relationships to family and society upon which all humanity rests.
    Deni Ellis Bechard is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including Vandal Love (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book); Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for Literary Fiction and chosen by CBC/Radio Canada as one of 2017’s Incontournables and one of the most important books of that year to be read by Canada's political leadership); Of Bonobos and Men (Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism and Nautilus Grand Prize winner); Cures for Hunger (an IndieNext pick and one of the best memoirs of 2012 by Amazon.ca); Kuei, my Friend: a Conversation on Racism and Reconciliation, (coauthored with First Nations poet Natasha Kanapé-Fontaine). A traveler by nature, Béchard has a habit of changing homes as often as every three months, and the place he has lived in the longest over the past ten years was a community circus.
    G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.
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    • 37 min
    Lisa B. Thompson, "Underground, Monroe, and the Mamalogues: Three Plays" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    Lisa B. Thompson, "Underground, Monroe, and the Mamalogues: Three Plays" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    Lisa B. Thompson is equally renowned as a scholar of African and African-American studies and as a playwright. Her latest book Underground, Monroe, and the Mamalogues: Three Plays (Northwestern University Press 2020) collects plays from throughout her two decades as a playwright. "Underground" is a tense two-hander exploring themes of race, class, and masculinity through the story of two friends with very different ideas about how to change the world. Monroe draws on Thompson’s family’s history as part of the Great Migration of Blacks from the South to the urban north and west. "The Mamalogues" is the funniest and most personal play in this collection: it is a love letter to unpartnered Black mothers and a spiritual sequel to Thompson’s earlier play "Single Black Female."
    Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA program at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. His plays have been produced, developed, or presented at IRT, Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Dixon Place, Roundabout Theatre, Epic Theatre Company, Out Loud Theatre, Naked Theatre Company, Contemporary Theatre of Rhode Island, and The Trunk Space. He is currently working on a series of 50 plays about the 50 U.S. states. His website is AndyJBoyd.com, and he can be reached at andyjamesboyd@gmail.com.
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    • 1 tim.
    Anne Louise Bannon, "Death of the Chinese Field Hands" (Healcroft House, 2020)

    Anne Louise Bannon, "Death of the Chinese Field Hands" (Healcroft House, 2020)

    When Anne Louise Bannon heard her husband, then archivist for the City of Los Angeles, speak about how early Angelenos dug a large ditch (a zanja) to cull water from the Porciuncula River (now known as the Los Angeles River), her first thought was that the Zanja would be an interesting place to find a dead body. Death of the Zanjero and Death of the City Marshall were the first two in her Old Los Angeles series (both delightful), and now comes Death of the Chinese Field Hands (Healcroft House, 2020). Protagonist Maddie Wilcox is a widowed doctor who owns and manages a ranch and vineyard. When she isn’t supervising her wine production, ranch business, and a sizable staff, Maddie is called upon to treat the injuries and diseases of her neighbors. Solving murders is just a past-time, but luckily, she has a keen eye for details and knows what it means when a boot print with a gaping hole is discovered near the bodies of several Chinese workers. The story is loosely based on the lynching of eighteen Chinese men on October 24, 1871 and reminds us that small-minded bigotry and xenophobia is a shameful part of American history we have yet to overcome.
    Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, and author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline Series, and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. Anne and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters. When not reading or writing, she sews, and is currently learning how to make men's pants.
    If you enjoyed today’s podcast and would like to discuss it further with me and other New Books network listeners, please join us on Shuffle. Shuffle is an ad-free, invite-only network focused on the creativity community. As NBN listeners, you can get special access to conversations with a dynamic community of writers and literary enthusiasts. Sign up by going to www.shuffle.do/NBN/join
    G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.
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    • 30 min
    Maria Hinojosa, "Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America" (Atria Books, 2020)

    Maria Hinojosa, "Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America" (Atria Books, 2020)

    Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who, for nearly thirty years, has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media—from tales of hope in the South Bronx to the unseen victims of the War on Terror and the first detention camps in the US. Bestselling author Julia Álvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community.”
    Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America (Atria Books, 2020), Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today.
    An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, this honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth.
    Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú.
    David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.
     
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    • 1 tim. 5 min
    Heather Lende, "Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics" (Algonquin Books, 2020)

    Heather Lende, "Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics" (Algonquin Books, 2020)

    Heather Lende was one of the thousands of women inspired to take a more active role in politics during the past few years. Though her entire campaign for assembly member in Haines, Alaska, cost less than $1,000, she won! But tiny, breathtakingly beautiful Haines—a place accessible from the nearest city, Juneau, only by boat or plane—isn’t the sleepy town that it appears to be: from a bitter debate about the expansion of the fishing boat harbor to the matter of how to stop bears from rifling through garbage on Main Street to the recall campaign that targeted three assembly members, including Lende, we witness the nitty-gritty of passing legislation, the lofty ideals of our republic, and how the polarizing national politics of our era play out in one small town. With an entertaining cast of offbeat but relatable characters, Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics (Algonquin Books, 2020) is an inspirational tale about what living in a community really means, and what we owe one another.
    Heather Lende has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler, among other newspapers and magazines, and is a former contributing editor at Woman’s Day. A columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News, she is the obituary writer for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines and the recipient of the Suzan Nightingale McKay Best Columnist Award from the Alaska Press Club. Her previous bestselling books are Find the Good, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, and If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. Lende was voted Citizen of the Year, Haines Chamber of Commerce, in 2004. Her website is heatherlende.com.
    Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in 19th-century New England. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler also writes poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature.
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    • 1 tim. 5 min

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