David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker’s award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many more.
© WNYC Studios
Salman Rushdie on Surviving the Fatwa
Thirty-four years ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of the novelist Salman Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” Khomeini declared blasphemous. It caused a worldwide uproar. Rushdie lived in hiding in London for a decade before moving to New York, where he began to let his guard down. “I had come to feel that it was a very long time ago and, and that the world moves on,” he tells David Remnick. “That’s what I had agreed with myself was the case. And then it wasn’t.” In August of last year, a man named Hadi Matar attacked Rushdie onstage before a public event, stabbing him about a dozen times. Rushdie barely survived. Now, in his first interview since the assassination attempt, Rushdie discusses the long shadow of the fatwa; his recovery from extensive injuries; and his writing. It was “just a piece of fortune, given what happened,” that Rushdie had finished work on a new novel, “Victory City,” weeks before the attack. The book is being published this week. “I’ve always thought that my books are more interesting than my life,” he remarks. “Unfortunately, the world appears to disagree.”
David Remnick’s Profile of Rushdie appears in the February 13th & 20th issue of The New Yorker.
Bonnie Raitt Talks with David Remnick
You couldn’t write a history of American music without a solid chapter on Bonnie Raitt. From her roots as a blues guitarist, she’s created a gorgeous melange of rock, R. & B., blues, folk, and country—helping to establish a new category now known as Americana. But she’s far from resting on her laurels; her latest album, “Just Like That . . . ,” is nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, including Song of the Year—a category in which her competition includes Beyoncé and Adele, stars a generation younger than Raitt. She talks with David Remnick about her early career in the blues clubs of Boston; the relationship between older Black artists and the nineteen-sixties generation of younger white afficionados; and the state of the genre today. “The way that blues and R. & B. and soul music [are] interwoven with so many different styles now . . . the cross pollination of influences that streaming has made possible—it means that blues is always at the root of whatever funky music is out at the time,” she says. Raitt also reflects on how finding sobriety in her forties changed her music. “I think a lot of us are busy putting on a big persona—proving ourselves in the world—for the first two decades of our careers,” she says. “I became more who I really am at forty-one than I was at thirty-one.”
The Custody Battles Awaiting Mothers of Children Conceived in Rape
Exceptions in the case of rape used to be considered a necessity in abortion legislation, even within the pro-life movement. But today ten states have no rape exception in their abortion laws, and more will likely consider moving in that direction this year. “I think few people understand how common this scenario actually is,” the contributing writer Eren Orbey, who has reported on the issue, says; according to C.D.C. statistics, nearly three million women have become pregnant as a result of rape. With abortion laws changing, more and more women will be forced to carry these pregnancies to term. In some cases, they’ll find themselves tied to their assailants through the family-court system until their children turn eighteen. “Many states . . . require a conviction for first-degree rape—which is really hard to come by even if there’s a lot of evidence—in order to terminate parental rights,” Lucy Guarnera, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, says. Orbey talks with Guarnera, one of a few researchers who have studied this issue in depth, and with a mother of twins about the challenges of parenthood under these conditions. “The reality is: these exceptions are far less effective than we assume they are,” Orbey says. “They create the false impression that we’re taking care of all rape survivors when we’re not.”
What Exactly Does “Woke” Mean, and How Did It Become so Powerful?
Many on the right blame “wokeness” for all of America’s ills—everything from deadly mass shootings to lower military recruitment. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, recently signed a so-called Stop WOKE Act into law, and made the issue the center of his midterm victory speech. In Washington, there has been talk in the House of forming an “anti-woke caucus.” “I think ‘woke’ is a very interesting term right now, because I think it’s an unusable word—although it is used all the time—because it doesn’t actually mean anything,” the linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne, the author of “Dictionary of Contemporary Slang,” tells David Remnick.
Plus, the poet Robin Coste Lewis talks with the staff writer Hilton Als about how suffering a traumatic brian injury led her to a career in poetry. Her most recent book, “To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness,” was published last month.
Michael Schulman on Oscars History, and a Visit with “Annie” Composer Charles Strouse
Despite years of controversy, the Academy Awards and the other awards shows remain must-watch television for many Americans. The awards may be “unreliable as a pure measure of cinematic worth,” Schulman tells David Remnick. “But I would argue that the Oscars are sort of a decoder ring for cultural conflict and where the industry is headed,” Schulman says. “They are a way to understand where pop culture is.” With theatre attendance in continuing decline, the Academy is looking for solutions, Schulman believes, and that could result in a higher-grossing outlier winner for the coveted Best Picture award. Plus, a visit with the Broadway composer Charles Strouse, who is ninety-four and compiling his archives to donate to the Library of Congress. He reflects on his work with Jay-Z and his “friendly enemy” relationship with Stephen Sondheim: “He didn’t like me much. I didn’t like him less.” Still nimble at the piano, Strouse plays a rendition of his classic, “Tomorrow.”
A Local Paper First Sounded the Alarm on George Santos. Nobody Listened.
George Santos is hardly the first scammer elected to office—but his lies, David Remnick says, are “extra.” Most Americans learned of Santos’s extraordinary fabrications from a New York Times report published after the midterm election, but a local newspaper called the North Shore Leader was sounding the alarm months before. The New Yorker staff writer Clare Malone took a trip to Long Island to speak with the Leader’s publisher, Grant Lally, and its managing editor, Maureen Daly, to find out how the story began. “We heard story after story after story about him doing bizarre things,” Lally told her. “He was so well known, at least in the more active political circles, to be a liar, that by early summer he was already being called George Scamtos.” Lally explains how redistricting drama in New York State turned Santos from a “sacrificial” candidate—to whom no one was paying attention—to a front-runner. At the same time, Malone thinks, “the oddly permissive structure that the Republican Party has created for candidates on a gamut of issues” enabled his penchant for fabrication. “[There’s] lots of crazy stuff that’s popped up in politics over the past few years. I think maybe Santos thought, Eh, who’s gonna check?”
Just fine 4 me!!!
As a listener with an average to low IQ I marvel at most shows. Please feel free to talk over my head, as I love the challenges and always look up new word in hope of vocabulary development-so as to trick folks into thinking I might be smarter than I am. Your efforts are one of the week’s highlights.
Bonnie Raitt interview
Absolutely wonderful !!
Thank you !
I’ve been reading the New Yorker for 30 years and the podcast is a great addition.