567 episodes

Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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    Bina Shah, "Weeds and Flowers" (Spring, 2020)

    Bina Shah, "Weeds and Flowers" (Spring, 2020)

    Bina Shah speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her short story “Weeds and Flowers,” which appears in Issue 19 of The Common magazine. In this conversation, Shah talks about how the people she observes and encounters in her life in Karachi, Pakistan, inspire her work in fiction. She also discusses her 2018 feminist dystopian novel Before She Sleeps, and the sequel she’s working on now, in addition to her work as a journalist.
    Bina Shah is a Karachi-based author of five novels and two collections of short stories, including the feminist dystopia Before She Sleeps, published in 2018. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, and Pakistan’s biggest English-language newspaper, Dawn, as well as other international newspapers and journals.
    Read “Weeds and Flowers” by Bina Shah at thecommononline.org/weeds-and-flowers.
    Learn more about Bina Shah and her work at thefeministani.wordpress.com, and find her novel Before She Sleeps here.
    Follow Bina Shah on Twitter at twitter.com/BinaShah.
    The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.
    Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.
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    • 21 min
    Chris Panatier, "The Phlebotomist" (Angry Robot, 2020)

    Chris Panatier, "The Phlebotomist" (Angry Robot, 2020)

    Humans have found many ways to divide and stratify—by skin color, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, health status, body type or size, and so on. The list is so long that it’s hard to imagine it getting longer, and yet debut author Chris Panatier has found a way. In The Phlebotomist (Angry Robot, 2020)t, society is divided (as the title suggests) by something invisible to the naked eye: blood type.
    Universal donors—those with Type O negative—are the most valued. Universal recipients—those who are AB positive—are the least valued. With incomes based on the market value of their blood, universal donors end up at the top of the socio-economic hierarchy and universal recipients at the bottom.
    Meanwhile, those running the show—executives of the company Patriot—are the richest of all, living in exclusive enclaves. It is vampiric capitalism in more ways than one.
    The name of the company is a reference to the Patriot Act—a real-life example of creeping authoritarianism that parallels the world of The Phlebotomist (Angry Robot, 2020)
    “This ubiquitous contractor, Patriot, has slowly crept into the realm of individual rights and privacy until one day, everyone wakes up, and there's a mandatory blood draw, and they have to give blood every day and are under surveillance and tracked everywhere,” Panatier explains. “All of that started as a patriotic thing to do. There was a war, people were asked to give blood, and so they proudly did it. And then slowly … people were under the boot of the government and this enigmatic contractor. ... It's a bit of an allegory for sure. … because these are things I see in our everyday lives.”
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    • 35 min
    Heather Bell Adams, "The Good Luck Stone" (Haywire Books, 2020)

    Heather Bell Adams, "The Good Luck Stone" (Haywire Books, 2020)

    Heather Bell Adams’ first novel, Maranatha Road (West Virginia University Press 2017), won the gold medal for the Southeast region in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was selected for Deep South Magazine’s Fall/Winter Reading List. Her short fiction, which has won the James Still Fiction Prize and Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award, appears in The Thomas Wolfe Review, Atticus Review, Pembroke Magazine, Broad River Review, The Petigru Review, Pisgah Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Hendersonville, NC, Heather lives in Raleigh with her husband and son. She works as a lawyer and volunteers on the Raleigh Review fiction staff. She loves hot yoga and does not love cooking.
    The Good Luck Stone (Haywire Books, 2020) appears on Summer Reading Lists for Deep South Magazine, Writer’s Bone, The Big Other and Buzz Feed. The story opens in Savannah, Ga with ninety- year-old Audrey Thorpe living in her historic mansion on palm-tree-lined Victory Drive, determined to retain her independence. When her health begins to fade and she stumbles at a fund-raising event, her granddaughter hires fellow mom Laurel to be a part-time caregiver. Laurel and Audrey seem to bond—until Audrey disappears. As the story moves between the verdant jungles of the war-torn Philippines, where Audrey served as a nurse, and glittering modern-day Savannah, friendships new and old are tested. Along the way, Audrey grapples with one of life’s heart-wrenching truths: You can only outrun your secrets for so long.
    I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb.com.
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    • 26 min
    Dan Moller, "The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano" (Simon and Schuster, 2020)

    Dan Moller, "The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano" (Simon and Schuster, 2020)

    A tale of passion and obsession from a philosophy professor who learns to play Bach on the piano as an adult. 
    Dan Moller grew up listening to heavy metal in the Boston suburbs. But one day, something shifted when he dug out his mother's record of The Art of the Fugue, inexplicably wedged between ABBA's greatest hits and Kenny Rogers. Moller was fixated on Bach ever since. 
    In The Way of Bach, he draws us into fresh and often improbably hilarious things about Bach and his music. Did you know the Goldberg Variations contain a song about his mom cooking too much cabbage? Just what is so special about Bach’s music? Why does it continue to resonate even today? What can modern Americans—steeped in pop culture—can learn from European craftsmanship? And, because it is Bach, why do some people see a connection between music and God? 
    By turn witty and though-provoking, Moller infuses The Way of Bach with philosophical considerations about how music and art enable us to contemplate life's biggest questions.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and a PhD Candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.
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    • 51 min
    Max Gross, "The Lost Shtetl" (HarperCollins, 2020)

    Max Gross, "The Lost Shtetl" (HarperCollins, 2020)

    Today I spoke with Max Gross about his book The Lost Shtetl (HarperCollins, 2020). Imagine a Jewish village hidden in the forests of Poland that somehow escapes the Holocaust. Eighty years later, a young woman divorces her husband and runs into the surrounding forest. The town sends a young man to find her. He’s an orphan and expendable because he’s not that good a marriage prospect, but suddenly he finds himself in modern-day Poland. He finds it hard to believe that all the Jews of Poland have been murdered along with most of Europe’s Jewry. Officials toss him in an institution and study him for months until a Yiddish translator is found. And when they fly him home in a helicopter, the townspeople think the Messiah has finally come. The Lost Shtetl is about love, family, community, religion, class, government, politics, antisemitism, assimilation, and history itself. Although the town never heard of electricity, running water, or cars, never advanced in science or medicine, and never even heard of sliced bread, it’s not clear that progress is going to be good for everyone in Kreskol.
    Max Gross was born in New York City in 1978 and is the son of two writers. After attending Saint Ann’s School and Dartmouth College, he worked at the Forward and as a travel correspondent for the New York Post before becoming the Edi­tor-in-Chief of Com­mer­cial Observ­er. He wrote a book about dating called "From Schlub to Stud" but has since been rescued from the single man's fate by his beloved wife and son, with whom he lives in Queens, New York. The Lost Shtetl, his first novel, is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award, a recipient of an honorable mention for the Sophie Brody Medal, and winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries Fiction Award. Gross is also a lifelong traveler, having studied in Scotland and London, and having lived in Arad, Israel for a year. When not writing, he is a degenerate poker player who once had the distinction of beating the 2003 World Series of Poker champion, Chris Moneymaker, in a media versus professional tournament.
    I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb.com.
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    • 31 min
    Jethro Soutar, "Translations from Portuguese" (Fall 2020)

    Jethro Soutar, "Translations from Portuguese" (Fall 2020)

    Translator Jethro Soutar speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about three pieces he translated from Portuguese for Issue 20 of The Common magazine. These pieces appear in a special portfolio of writing from and about the Lusosphere—Portugal’s colonial and linguistic diaspora around the globe. 
    In this conversation, Soutar talks about the complexities of translating poetry and prose: capturing not just the meaning of a piece but the feeling and atmosphere of it, and the culture behind the scenes. He also explains a little of the colonial and racial history of Portugal, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, and how those events echo today through the literature and language of modern Lusophone countries.
    Jethro Soutar is a translator of Spanish and Portuguese. He has a particular focus on works from Africa and has translated novels from Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde. He is also editor of Dedalus Africa and a co-founder of Ragpicker Press. Originally from Sheffield in the UK, he now lives in Lisbon, Portugal.
    Read “Maria, I’m Going To War,” “In Our Skin—A Journey,” and “Another Education,” all translated by Jethro Soutar, at thecommononline.org/tag/jethro-soutar.
    Explore The Common’s portfolio of writing from the Lusosphere at thecommononline.org/luso.
    Learn more about Dedalus Africa at dedalusbooks.com, and about Ragpicker Press at ragpickerpress.co.uk.
    The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.
    Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.
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    Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm

    • 50 min

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