In a powerful show, author Abdellah Taia talks with co-hosts Kate Wolf and Eric Newman about his new collection from Semiotexte, "Another Morocco;" and also about his experience as the first prominent Moroccan author to come out of the closet; his love of Morocco; how he knew he would lose part of himself when he moved to France; and his bitterness towards French liberal society, which may be less homophobic, but is not tolerant of the young man he was in Morocco. George Prochnik, author of a new book about Gershom Scholem, returns to recommend Scholem's magisterial biography The Mystical Messiah: Sabbatai Sevi about one of the most astonishing figures in Jewish history.
Art Historian Kellie Jones talks about her new book, South of Pico, on the flourishing African-American Art scene in Los Angeles in the 1960s and '70s. Co-host Kate Wolf is joined by first-time co-host Eric Newman in a wide-ranging discussion with Kellie about the social, economic, historical, and artistic forces that influenced a powerful generation of black artists in Southern California; whose work continues to resonate. Also, author George Prochnik returns to recommend the work of novelist Irene Nemirovsky, whose stories from both pre- and post-nazi Europe are chillingly cautionary tales for our times.
George Prochnik is one of our leading biographers and cultural historians; and he talks with Kate and Medaya about his latest book, "Stranger in a Strange Land: Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem." As he talks about Scholem's life, from his close friendship with Walter Benjamin to his exodus from Europe, to his history excavations of Judaica that were motivated by a desire to enliven contemporary Jewish life - it becomes apparent that Prochnik sees something of his own quest for meaning in Scholem's unique path. Also, Elif Batuman returns to recommend Hanya Yanagihara' s The People in the Trees.
Author Elif Batuman joins Kate and Medaya to discuss her new semi-autobiographical novel, The Idiot, about a Turkish-American freshman at Harvard. Elif explains the book’s unique genesis: she wrote it shortly after graduating, found it in a drawer many years later, and reworked it into its current form. Many Elifs contributed to this book - the Harvard freshman, the postgraduate author, the recent literary archaeologist, and the nonfiction author whose celebrated book The Possessed covers a similar time period as a work of “objective journalism.” And, yes, Kate, Medea, and Elif share their love for Dostoyevsky! Also, Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me, returns to recommend a book of poetry, Donika Kelly's Bestiary. And we end by honoring Robert Silvers, legendary founder and editor of the New York Review of Books, who died at 87 in March. LARB contributor Jon Wiener spoke to Silvers in 2013.