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LARB Radio Hour

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.
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LARB Radio Hour
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Jul 19, 2019

Poet Ariana Reines joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to discuss A Sand Book, her most ambitious work to date. The show opens with a powerful extended passage from the poem A Partial History. If listeners are not yet aware of Reines as one this century's great new voices, they will be within five minutes: a rhythmic cascade of language rife with resonant images of social conflict, dissipation, recurring glimmers of self-awareness lost in a flood of unrelenting distraction, but our drive to quest never extinguished - epic verse for our lost society. What follows then is a series of reflections on the promise of 21st century language; and the new territories where Reines is searching for, and finding, inspiration.
Also, Erica Jong returns to recommend Horizon by Barry Lopez, the National Book Award-winner's new work of non-fiction.

Jul 12, 2019

Author Fred Tuten joins co-hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf and Eric Newman to talk about his new book, My Young Life: A Memoir. The conversation begins with Fred explaining why after five celebrated novels, he chose to write a memoir; what follows is a series of beautiful reflections on his life. In the introduction to the show, Medaya says this is perhaps her very favorite LARB Radio Hour to date. Indeed, Fred's deep compassion for the people in his life, his novel-like descriptions of time and place, and his trenchant political observations makes this a show that cannot be missed - there's a true generosity of Spirit here.
Also, the irrepressible John Waters returns to recommend a book and offers four: Moby's new memoir, Then It Fell Apart; Kevin Killian's Fascination - as well as the works of Clarise Lispector and Dodie Bellamy.

Jul 5, 2019

Legendary Chicanx Feminist Theorist Cherrie Moraga joins host Eric Newman to talk about her new memoir, Native Country of the Heart, which tells the story of Cherrie mother, Elvira, along with reflections on Cherrie's own life and the long history of the Mexican-American/Indigenous diaspora. Cherrie discusses how she came to write about her mother's life, her own coming into being as a Chicanx radical feminist artist and lesbian, and ends with some somber thoughts about our dire contemporary politics balanced by where she finds hope in this context.
Also, Jacob Tobia, author of Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story, returns to recommend the super-hot, gender-shifting, pan-sexual Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

Jun 28, 2019

In a wide-ranging conversation, Eric and Medaya talk with author Jordy Rosenberg about the life and times of Jack Sheppard, eighteenth century Britain’s most famous prisonbreak artist, who is at the center of Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox. Plumbing the archival material that remains of this mysterious figure, Rosenberg’s novel imagines Sheppard as a transgender man whose gender ambiguous “slight” body was often described as boon to his trade and to his reputation as a notorious ladies man. Throughout the conversation, we discuss how our changing understandings of gender and sexuality across history challenge how we think about identity, desire and embodiment.
Also, filmmaker Werner Herzog returns to recommend J. A. Baker's The Peregrine.

Jun 21, 2019

Author Jacob Tobia joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to discuss their first book, Sissy: A coming of Gender Story. In a wide-ranging conversation, Tobia talks about coming into their non-binary gender, confronting haters, and embracing the messiness of Identity. Not only is Jacob a joy to talk with, but they also give a brilliant longview on the struggles both for queer rights and also for people to live however they feel gendered in their body.

Jun 14, 2019

Co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf are granted an audience with his Holiness the King of Filth, John Waters. Speaking about his new memoir, Waters opens up about the importance of understanding the business of show business, remaining committed to your vision and believing, against all odds, that you’ll be a success. Along the way, Waters talks about sex, politics and Eric's memory of meeting him at a urinal during a Hairspray! intermission.

Jun 6, 2019

Authors Erica Jong and Susan Choi joins co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf in our third and final installment from the 2019 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on USC Campus. First, Erica Jong talks about her new collection of poems, “The World Began with Yes,” as well how she sees the present moment from the long view of her engagement with feminist and other political causes. Then, exploring the trials and tribulations of life in high school, Susan Choi’s talks about the ethics of storytelling and how her novel “Trust Exercise” emerges from questions about how we work through our ideas about power, identity and values in the turbulent years of high school and, much later, after we've become adults.

May 31, 2019

It's our second show from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC; and this installment features two of the Festival's award winners, as hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf speak with Nafissa Thompson-Spires and Carl Phillips. Nafissa won the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction for her short story collection Heads of the Colored People; while Carl took home the LA Times Book Prize in Poetry for Wild is the Wind.

May 24, 2019

In the first of a series of shows from the Los Angles Festival of Books, Eric, Medaya, and Kate, catch up with two friends of the show: Hanif Abdurraqib and Claire Vaye Watkins. First up, Hanif talks about his new book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, an epistolary appreciation of one of the most influential groups in Hip Hop history. As always, Hanif astounds with instant recall of, and insights about, all things pop cultural and their social resonance. Then, Claire joins the team to discuss her heralded first novel, Gold Fame Citrus: a terrifying, and all-too-possible, representation of Southern California's near future, in which love blooms in a landscape ravaged by drought.

May 17, 2019

Co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher talk to writer Laila Lalami about her most recent novel, The Other Americans, a story about a Moroccan immigrant family in the Mojave Desert. In the second half of the episode, Kate, Medaya, and Eric come together to talk about the lessons they've learned from their mothers with Jo Giese, author of Never Sit If You Can Dance, a recent memoir about the lessons her mother has taught her.

May 10, 2019

Co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf talk with filmmaker Werner Herzog about his new documentary Meeting Gorbachev, which he co-directed with Andre Singer. They discuss the legacy of the last Soviet leader, the era of Glasnost and Perestroika, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and how Herzog understands the history of Russia. The centerpiece of the film is a dialogue between Gorbachev and Herzog, which Gorbachev agreed to do because he recognized the great German filmmaker as more poet than journalist. Indeed, in this show, Herzog's reflections flow seamlessly across an array of subjects, from politics, culture, and history to the resilience of the human spirit.
Also, Sally Rooney, author of Normal People, returns to recommend both The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrere and the book that inspired it, the Gospel of Luke.

May 3, 2019

Co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf speak with Sally Rooney about her two novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People. Dubbed the "Jane Austin of the Precariat" and called "the first great millennial novelist" Sally addresses the acclaim she’s received; and how she’s grown into the person and writer she is today. 
Also, William E. Jones returns to recommend The Imposter byJavier Cercas, which tells the story of Spaniard Enric Marco, who was a national hero until he was exposed as a fraud in 2005.

Apr 26, 2019

Juliet Lapidos is a writer and editor. She is currently a senior editor at The Atlantic, and previously worked for the LA Times, NYT and Slate. Host Tom Lutz joins Juliet to discuss Talent, her new novel about a 29 year old English grad student who can’t finish her dissertation, spending her days eating pop tarts rather than producing pages — relatable. Everything changes when she meets the niece of a famous author and gets access to his notebooks. Anna finds in the author’s archive the inspiration that takes her on a whirlwind journey into the depths of a literary mystery. Tom talks with Juliet about every writer's favorite subject, writer's block; along with the role of slacking in American culture, and that ancient quandary of artistic production: hard work vs inspiration or, could we say, Talent.

Apr 19, 2019

Author and Artist William E Jones joins co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Jones to discuss his first novel I'm Open to Anything. In the midst of a successful career as both an artist and a writer of non-fiction, William explains what inspired this change; albeit one clearly situated in the Los Angeles of the late 80s, which William encountered after a childhood in the declining rust belt and college on the East Coast. Much like his writing, insights pour forth as William reflects on the difference between writing and making art, his contempt for sexual ellipses in literature and film, his passion for both explicit sexual realism and literary pranks, and why these inform his love for Denis Diderot.
Also, Poet Tommy Pico returns to recommend Tommy Orange's novel There There; and clarify who's who.

Apr 11, 2019

Author Karen Tongson talks with co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf about the tragic life and beautiful voice of Karen Carpenter, the singer who is Tongson's namesake and whose star has never lost its lustre for an enduring fanbase in the Philippines. What she unpacks in Carpenter's story is a moving account of suffering and beauty, of longing for a world we may never reach save in soaring notes and the practiced perfection of vocal harmony, a struggle resonant with queer and diasporic experience.
Also, Morgan Parker, author most recently of Magical Negro, returns to recommend poet Nabila Lovelace's first collection, Sons of Achilles.

Apr 4, 2019

Co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf talk with poets Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico about their respective new works, Magical Negro and Junk. Parker and Pico discuss how they use poetry to explore the experiences of oppressed communities, shuttling between the sublimity and nuance of everyday experiences and the larger cultural and political questions that saturate bodies, spaces and relations. They also talk about how their aesthetic practice has changed as they have moved into writing novels and screenplays.

Mar 29, 2019

Who is Steve Bannon? The evil mastermind of a far right global counter-revolution that's taking the world by storm; or a shallow, frumpy guy doing the bidding of his billionaire backers. Could he be both? One thing for certain, Alison Klayman's verite documentary The Brink, which follows Bannon in the months after his exit from the Trump White House, is the essential portrait of one of the central players in global politics. Klayman explains to co-hosts Eric, Kate, and Medaya how she came to have such unlimited access to Bannon, her reflections on his toxic politics and on the man himself: his character, his motivations and what he hopes to accomplish. 
Also, Geoff Dyer, author of Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, returns to recommend Annie Ernaux's "impersonal autobiography" The Years, an astonishing first-hand reflection on the cultural, political, and economic changes over the 2nd half of the 20th century.

Mar 22, 2019

Geoff Dyer joins co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf to discuss his new book Broadsword Calling Danny Boy about the 1968 Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood war movie, Where Eagles Dare. In talking about a film that has held his attention since childhood, Dyer expounds on the continuities and discontinuities between the movie-going child and the adult critic as a resource for good film writing. It's not the plots that fascinate Dyer so much as a writer as the moments caught on camera that grab our critical attention: the signature expressions, the technicolorization of reality, the cacophony of sounds that transport us from our seats into the somewhere else of the film.
Also, Deborah Eisenberg, author of Your Duck is My Duck, returns to recommend a classic of Chinese Literature from the 18th Century: Cao Xueqin's five volume The Story of the Stone.

Mar 15, 2019

Co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf talk with acclaimed author and master of the short story Deborah Eisenberg about Your Duck is My Duck, her new collection and her first since 2006. The free-wheeling discussion opens with the mystery of the silly, and selfish, sounding title; winds through a set of surprising reflections on inspiration, process, and myths of creativity; and how Deborah's relation to her craft has evolved throughout her life.
Also, Chloe Ardijis, author of Sea Monsters, returns to recommend Charles Baudelaire's Prose Poems.

Mar 8, 2019

Inspired in part by her childhood in Mexico City, Sea Monsters charts the journey of a young girl who takes chase after both a budding romantic infatuation and in interest in, of all things, a band of Ukrainian dwarfs alleged to have defected from the USSR while on tour in Mexico. In a wide-ranging conversation, Ardijis talks with co-hosts Eric Newman, Kate Wolf, and Medaya Ocher about running away from home, the anxiety of inheritance coming from a family of noted writers and artists, goth aesthetics and teenage romance.
Also, Johanna Fateman, co-editor of Last Days at Hot Slit: the Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin, returns to recommend Re:Search Magazine's 1991 collection Angry Women, featuring interviews with and essays by the likes of bell hooks, Andrea Juno, Kathy Acker, Susie Bright, Wanda Coleman and many others.

Mar 1, 2019

Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholders, the editors of Last Days at Hot Slit: the Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin, join co-hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newman. Fateman and Scholder talk abut the literary and political legacy of Dworkin, a controversial figure in feminist history whose critiques of patriarchy and pornography made her an icon and a pariah in the 1970s and 80s. By looking back at Dworkin beyond the frame of the so-called Sex Wars, they challenge us to see the incisiveness of her political vision balanced against an abrasive style at once thrilling and off-putting.
Also, Sam Lipsyte, the author of Hark, returns to recommend Lucy Ives' creatively titled upcoming novel Loudermilk or The Real Poet or The Origin of the World.

Feb 22, 2019

This week, co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher talk to Dani Shapiro, author of the memoir Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. They discuss how Dani Shapiro discovered her real parentage and how that discovery shaped her understanding of herself, her relationship to her family, her body and her career.
Also, Sam Lipsyte returns to recommend Mark Doten's new novel Trump Sky Alpha.

Feb 14, 2019

Join LARB editors Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher and Eric Newman for a special Valentine’s Day episode. In the first half of the show, we speak with Laurie Essig, author of Love Inc., an investigation into the ways in which the wedding, romance and dating industry have affected our lives and made us believe in happy endings, despite the world crumbling (or rather, melting) around our shoulders. Our second guest is long-time LARB veteran, Briallen Hopper, who talks to us about her new collection of essays, Hard to Love. We talk to Briallen about spinsters, singledom and how to throw the perfect Galentine’s party.

Feb 8, 2019

Sam Lipsyte talks to co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher about his latest novel, Hark, which follows the exploits of an unlikely prophet named Hark and his acolytes, who think that they have found salvation in “mental archery”. Sam, Kate and Medaya discuss the appeal of gurus, the power of satire, and how to explain global warming to your kids. Sam Lipsyte is the author of author of Venus Drive, The Ask, Home Land, and The Fun Parts. He is also the Chair of the creative writing program at Columbia University.
Also, Dan Lopez, author of The Show House, returns to recommend Stephen Hawking's Brief Answers to the Big Questions.

Feb 1, 2019

Mitchell S Jackson, author of 2013's widely acclaimed The Residue, joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to talk about his new, soon to be released, book Survival Math: Notes on an American Family. An eclectic text - part reportage, part memoir, with cento poems, an epistilary opening, and powerful narrative passages throughout - Survival Math seamlessly testifies to a life and a consciousness born from difficult environments, devastating experiences, and an insatiable appetite for understanding and insight. Mitchell talks about what inspired him to write in such a challenging form; how the book's stories capture the complex ways in which adult mentors and friends become "family;" and the relationship of African-American history to the production of spectacular African-American art and literature.
Also, Wayetu Moore returns to recommend The Lazarus Effect, a thriller, by Liberian author H. J. Golakai.

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