69 episodes

Host Catherine Nichols and guests choose one book for each year of the twentieth century (Nella Larsen's Passing, 1936, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, 1966; Mohandas Gandhi's Indian Home Rule, 1909) and talk about it in its historical and literary context. Tune in to find out what the 20th century was all about.

Lit Century Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols

    • Arts
    • 4.6 • 28 Ratings

Host Catherine Nichols and guests choose one book for each year of the twentieth century (Nella Larsen's Passing, 1936, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, 1966; Mohandas Gandhi's Indian Home Rule, 1909) and talk about it in its historical and literary context. Tune in to find out what the 20th century was all about.

    Train Dreams

    Train Dreams

    Author Amitava Kumar and host Catherine Nichols discuss Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. They talk about the wilderness and the names of plants, the associations of trains and the 19th and 20th centuries in India, Europe and the United States, and the book's rolling, associative prose style.

    Amitava Kumar is the author of several works of nonfiction and three novels. His novel Immigrant, Montana was a New York Times and New Yorker best book of the year and was selected by President Barack Obama as a favorite book of the year. Kumar's work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, the Nation, Granta, BRICK, and Guernica, among other publications. He has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and residencies from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Lannan Foundation. His most recent novel is My Beloved Life (2024).
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Pedro Páramo

    Pedro Páramo

    Authors Daniel Saldaña París and Wah-Ming Chang join host Catherine Nichols to discuss Juan Rulfo's 1955 novel Pedro Páramo, in its new translation by Douglas J. Weatherford. They talk about the book's unique mixture of modernity and timelessness, the violence and coziness of the book's picture of domestic life, and Rulfo's life as a traveler, reader, and editor.

    Daniel Saldaña París is the author of three novels—Among Strange Victims, Ramifications, and The Dance and the Wildfire—and a collection of personal essays, Planes Flying Over a Monster. His work has been translated into several languages, and he has been included in Bogota39, a list of the Best Latin American Writers Under 40.
    Wah-Ming Chang is a writer from New York City. Hand, Held, her artist book about her father's art practice, is forthcoming from Bored Wolves in 2024.
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    • 1 hr 12 min
    The Bell

    The Bell

    Na Zhong and Catherine Nichols discuss Iris Murdoch's 1958 novel The Bell. They discuss Murdoch's characters and the unique ethical quandaries of the book, as well as Murdoch's love of swimming and the size of the bell itself.


    A native of Chengdu, China, Na Zhong is a fiction writer who now calls
    New York her home. Her work has been recognized by organizations such as
    MacDowell and the Center for Fiction. Additionally, she serves as a
    columnist at China Books Review and is the co-founder of Accent Society.
    She has finished her first novel.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Swimmer and The Waltz

    The Swimmer and The Waltz

    Host Catherine Nichols and author Christine Coulson (One Woman Show, 2023) discuss The Swimmer by John Cheever and The Waltz by Dorothy Parker. Their conversation covers the humor and surrealism of both stories, the precise artistry of both authors' prose, as well as the social context of Cheever's suburbia, Parker's freedom and the constraints that both stories show in mid-20th century America.

    Christine Coulson spent twenty-five years writing for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and left the Museum as Senior Writer in 2019. Her debut novel, Metropolitan Stories, was a national bestseller and is followed by One Woman Show.
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    • 1 hr 26 min
    My Soul in Exile

    My Soul in Exile

    In this episode, host Catherine Nichols and writer Sally Foreman discuss Zabel Yesayan's enigmatic 1922 novel My Soul in Exile. Yesayan wrote the book after reporting on the genocide of her own Armenian people, shortly before before becoming a Communist. The book is counterintuitively joyful, as Yesayan describes a life in the arts both as a form of exile and a form of homecoming.
    Sally Foreman is an English writer and researcher living in Jerusalem.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

    Elisa Gabbert and Michael Joseph Walsh join Catherine Nichols to discuss Rainer Maria Rilke's 1910 novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. They talk about the ways the book echoes the life and mind of its author--and how it doesn't, as well as the details of the text: the eeriness of hands and masks, the differences between childhood and adult consciousness, and the appeal of encountering horrors on purpose. Since the book has been translated from the German many times, they compare several translations.
    Elisa Gabbert is the author of six collections of poetry, essays, and criticism. She writes the On Poetry column for the New York Times. Her next collection of nonfiction, Any Person Is the Only Self, will be out in 2023 from FSG.
    Michael Joseph Walsh is a Korean American poet and translator. He is the author of Innocence (CSU Poetry Center, 2022) and co-editor of APARTMENT Poetry. His poems, reviews, and translations have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Guernica, FOLDER, Fence, jubilat, and elsewhere. He lives in Denver.
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    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

Annawan42 ,

Lit Century

I love to read and often have trouble finding a friend to discuss them with. Lit Century gives me insight I don’t have and makes reading for me so rich.
Thank you - pls keep this up!

Edgar the picky ,

Interesting but……

Good content, but bad sound

allthegardens ,

Seriously so good

Informed, thoughtful, accessible, articulate, and stimulating!!! That’s how I would describe the episode on “What is it like to be a bat?”, and I’m definitely going to be listening to the rest of the episodes. I’ve read Catherine Nichols’ articles in the past and they are wonderful and muscular. In my insomnia I have also been pondering the question of why materialism is perhaps the philosophy of power now like Nichols proposes and my own theory is that as capital became ascendant and labor weak, it co opted that sexy sexy “this is the sad , real state of the world so let’s rise up!” into “this is the sad, real state of the world and you can’t change it, chump!” seeing as it was an easy and strong argument to make in the absence of an opponent really. They kind of won and are happy to crow about that lived world. And I think it remains persuasive to the layperson. Big government having only possibly emerged again after 50 or so years. Anyways if that even makes sense this is just conjecture and I am no expert, just an avid reader. Thanks for the great listen, and you’ve got a fan in me!

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