The world's great authors discuss their best-known novel.
Robert Seethaler: A Whole Life
Spanning much of the twentieth century and told with an elegant simplicity which belies the harshness of the tale it tells, Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life is the story of one man's relationship with an ancient landscape.
Andreas Egger knows every nook and cranny of the Alpine mountain valley that is his home and from which vantage point he witnesses the arrival of the modern world, in all its many and daunting forms.
A stark yet tender book about love, loss and endurance, and about finding dignity and beauty in solitude A Whole Life has already touched many thousands of readers with its message of solace and truth.
(Picture: Robert Seethaler. Photo credit: UrbanZintel.)
Tsitsi Dangarembga: Nervous Conditions
A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, Nervous Conditions is the coming-of-age story of two Shona girls, Tambudzai and Nyasha, both trying to find their place in contemporary Zimbabwe.
Whilst Nyasha has been to England and questions the effect of that Westernisation on her family, Tambudzai is from a more traditional branch of the family and is awed by her cousin’s seeming sophistication.
Through its exploration of race, class, gender and the nature of friendship, the novel dramatizes the 'nervousness' of the 'postcolonial' condition that vexes us still.
Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island
This month World Book Club discusses Bill Bryson’s hugely acclaimed travelogue Notes from a Small Island with the author and his readers around the world.
After two decades as a resident of the United Kingdom, Bryson took what he thought might be a last affectionate trip around his adoptive country before returning to live in his native America. Notes from a Small Island is the irreverent and hilarious account of this meandering journey through his beloved island nation. From Dover to Downing Street, from Giggleswick to Loch Ness by way of Titsey and Nether Wallop, Bryson rejoices in Britain’s inimitable placenames and much else of more substance besides, his very own State of the Nation address, as it were.
A huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, Notes from a Small Island has become that nation's most loved book about Britain.
Sjón - Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was
On this month’s World Book Club, Icelandic literary superstar Sjón will be answering questions from readers around the world about his novel Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was.
Set in Reykjavik in 1918, it’s the story of sixteen year old Mani, whose life is completely changed by the arrival of the Spanish flu in the city.
It’s a fascinating novel about human resilience and connections, a love letter to cinema and a portrait of a place at a very particular moment in its history.
Moonstone won The Icelandic Literary Prize in 2013.
Sjón is one of Iceland’s leading novelists and his work has been translated into 30 languages. He’s also a poet and librettist and was Oscar nominated for his lyrics for the film Dancer In The Dark.
Presented by Harriett Gilbert.
(Picture: Sjón. Courtesy of Sjón.)
Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing
A novel of breathtaking sweep revealing the devastating impact of slavery through history.
This month World Book Club discusses the multi-prize-winning debut novel Homegoing with its acclaimed Ghanaian author Yaa Gyasi and her fans around the world.
The story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a white slave-trader, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history. A novel of remarkable sweep and power, with each character’s life indelibly drawn, Homegoing reveals the devastating legacy of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit.
Yiyun Li: The Vagrants
Life or death choices in a bid to survive the horrors of 1970s Communist China
This month in the penultimate edition of a year celebrating the globe’s greatest women writers World Book Club talks to acclaimed Chinese author Yiyun Li about her harrowing debut novel The Vagrants.
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award The Vagrants is based on real events which took place in China in 1979 during the era that ultimately led to the fateful Tiannanmen Square uprising.
In the provincial town of Muddy Waters a young woman, Gu Shan, is sentenced to death for her loss of faith in Communism. The citizens stage a protest after her execution and, over the following six weeks, the novel charts the hopes and fears of the leaders of the protest and the pain of Gu Shan’s parents and friends, as everyone in the town is caught up in the remorseless turn of events.
(Picture: Yiyun Li. Photo credit: Roger Turesson.)
Customer ReviewsSee All
This podcast has been fun to listen to, so interesting to get a bit of a global perspective on literature. I have enjoyed learning about the wide variety of authors and books selected for discussion, some of whom have been new to me while some are “old friends.” The questions and answers are great! Thanks for a wonderful podcast!
wonderful! but take caution before listening to yr fav author
I love the show and have discovered so many fine books and writers. unfortunately every once in a while a fantastic author reveals themselves to be irredeemably boring or ungracious, and that’s always a shame, but luckily it is really seldom!
I love hearing about literature from so many different parts of the world. It keeps language and imagination alive. Thank you Harriet for the great job you do.