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.
Hernan Diaz's "Trust"
Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher speak with writer Hernan Diaz about his latest novel Trust, which tells a single story from multiple perspectives, or rather revisions. Trust brings into focus both how storytelling itself, as well as the narratives American culture tells about wealth and money, shape and distort our world. The conversation moves from the traditions of the 19th century American novel, the vagaries of capital and how Diaz put together this nesting doll-like novel.
Also, Celia Paul, author of Letters to Gwen John, returns to recommend the Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh.
Celia Paul's "Letters to Gwen John"
Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by acclaimed artist and writer Celia Paul to speak about her latest book Letters to Gwen John, an epistolary memoir addressed to the Welsh painter Gwen John, who lived and worked in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th century. Paul explores the connections between herself and John, who was a passionate defender of her own artistic practice, as well the lover of a much older, much more established man, the sculptor and painter Auguste Rodin. In her letters to John, Paul considers what it means to be a woman and an artist, as well as a mother and a romantic partner.
Also, Douglas Stuart, author of Young Mungo, returns to recommend Maria McCann's As Meat Loves Salt.
Douglas Stuart's "Young Mungo"
Author Douglas Stuart joins Eric Newman to talk about his new novel Young Mungo. Stuart's previous work, Shuggie Bain, won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Young Mungo is a coming of age novel about a young Protestant boy, growing up in working class Glasgow, who finds friendship and love with a Catholic boy who lives nearby. Together, they form a bond that promises to heal the wounds inflicted by family, class, and culture, hoping to build a world all their own before it all comes crashing down.
Also, Margo Jefferson, author of "Constructing a Nervous System," returns to recommend "The Deja Vu: Black Dreams and Black Time" by performance artist Gabrielle Civil.
Margo Jefferson's "Constructing a Nervous System"
Writer and critic Margo Jefferson joins Kate Wolf to speak about her latest book, Constructing A Nervous System: A Memoir. A formally inventive and exacting assemblage of personal history and deliberation that delves into Jefferson’s familial legacy, her battles with depression, and the oppressive construct of the model minority, the book is also a cultural reflection. It touches on such subjects as Ella Fitzgerald, Bud Powell, Ike Turner, and Willa Cather, especially as they manifest in the author’s conception of herself. With a kaleidoscopic sense of voice, Jefferson enacts here the constant toggle of the self, from the harshness of the superego to the curiosity, pain and enthusiasm of the child and most of all, the ingenuity of the writer.
Also, Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Checkout 19, to recommend Letters to Gwen John by Celia Paul.
Andrey Kurkov's "Grey Bees"
On this special LARB Book Club edition of the Radio Hour, Boris Dralyuk and Lindsay Wright are joined by Andrey Kurkov, one of Ukraine's leading literary figures. Kurkov was raised in Kyiv and, until very recently, was based in the city. Kyiv is not only the setting of some of his most beloved novels, like Death and the Penguin, but also the position from which he has chronicled his nation's journey towards democracy in works like the Ukraine Diaries, his firsthand account of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution of Dignity and the subsequent Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. His latest novel available in English, Grey Bees, focuses on those devastated eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, two or three years into what is now an eight-year war. Russia's brutal escalation of that war has uprooted Kurkov and his family, along with millions of Ukrainians, making Grey Bees more painfully relevant and its insights more important. Dralyuk happens to be the novel’s translator into English, so this special edition of the Book Club is all the more special for him.
Patti Smith's "The Melting"
Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher speak with musician, author, artist and all-around legend Patti Smith about her latest work, The Melting, an extended piece of prose she began releasing last spring in serial form via the Internet platform Substack. The Melting, started in the early days of the pandemic, finds Smith alone in her apartment, her world tour having just been canceled. As she yearns for the freedom of travel while stuck at home, her living space begins to yield to other spaces: dreams, literature, memory, reflection, and fictions. The melting of the title refers not just to global warming, but to time itself.
Also, NoViolet Bulawayo, author of Glory, returns to recommend Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah’s The Sex Lives of African Women.
These are the types of conversations I want to hear! Thanks LARB
The host of the LARB Radio Hour podcast, highlights all aspects of a good read and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!
Love it! But can we get more genres plz?
I adore that this podcast always feels relevant to todays cultures and questions. However, I want to hear from genres other than literature (essays, poems, fiction). Can we please get some scifi, fantasy, historical fiction, etc? Those genres tackle relevant contemporary issues in different but equally interesting ways and deserve a seat at the table.