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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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Apr 7, 2017

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.

Mar 30, 2017

Melissa Febos joins Medaya and Kate to discuss Abandon Me, her new beautifully lyrical eight-chapter essay. In one of the most intimate dialogues to date on the LARB Radio Hour, Melissa talks not only about the life changing love affair, and her search for her birth father, that are the core of the book's narrative; but also draws us into how the world looks through the eyes of one of America's leading literary stylists. Also on this week's podcast, Naima Keith of the California African American Museum returns to recommend Issa Rae's The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

Mar 24, 2017

Host Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn talks with Naima Keith, the award-winning deputy director of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles about art, history, politics, and how they intersect. Naima also talks in detail about the new Spring Season at CAAM, which features five shows including exhibits of the work of New York based artist Derrick Adams, Los Angeles' own Kenyatta A C Hinkle, and a look back at the 1992 LA Uprising. Also, podcast superstar Karina Longworth returns to recommend Marcy Dermansky's novel The Red Car.

Mar 16, 2017

Yale Law Professor and constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar joins LARB Legal Editor Dan Franzen for a discussion of his book, The Constitution Today; and how the new Trump Administration may represent a threat to the US constitutional system. From possible impeachment proceedings to travel bans already knocked down by District Courts to Administration challenges to the Free Press, it's clear the Trump Administration requires newfound vigilance for defenders of the Constitution. Also, Akhil explains one of his best known policy proposals: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (already adopted by ten states) that could transform American Presidential Elections so that the winner of the national popular vote becomes President.

Mar 10, 2017

Award-winning novelist Valeria Luiselli joins Kate and Medaya to talk about her new book, Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, about the flood of children refugees coming to the United States on a harrowing journey through Mexico from Central America. Luiselli reminds us that Trump may exacerbate the problem, but its been a tragic reality for years. Also, Sarah Manguso returns to recommend Amy Fusselman's underappreciated "8: All True: Unbelievable."

Mar 2, 2017

Essayist Sarah Manguso joins Kate and Medaya to read from and talk about her new book 300 Arguments: Essays; which is a searing set of aphorisms (though Sarah shies away from that word) that prove the power of concision. Also, Vanessa Davis, author of Spaniel Rage, returns to recommend Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons.

Feb 23, 2017

This week's podcast is the audio from the Film Now panel held in late 2016 & moderated by LARB's Anna Shechtman. The panelists were LA Times film critic Justin Chang, USC Professor and film scholar J D Connor, Cathy Schulman, the head of the organization Women In Film, and Gil Robertson, President of the African American Film Critics Association - and the event featured a wide-ranging consideration of the state of Cinema in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, with particular focus on questions of diversity and distribution as well as the best films of 2016.

Feb 17, 2017

Vanessa Davis talks with co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf about her autobiographical comics; in particular her collection Spaniel Rage, which is being re-issued. Davis discusses the evolution of a new literary art form; along with the establishment of women in the comics world. Then Martabel Wasserman drops by to recommend Sarah Schulman's classic novel of New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis, People in Trouble; which features a Donald Trump inspired antagonist. Lastly, Tom and Laurie listen to, and adore, a couple of poems by Emily Dickinson.

Feb 10, 2017

Co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher speak with Iranian Poet in exile Moshen Emadi, who lives in Mexico but is touring America on the occasion of the publication of the first English language collection of his poems, Standing On Earth. A lover of Whitman and other great American poets, Emadi reflects on the tragedy that when he leaves the country the current President would ban him from returning to the Land of the Free. Then local artist, publisher, and activist Martabel Wasserman joins Kate and Medaya to discuss how art and literature are a powerful and essential component of resistance against oppression - needed now more than ever. Also, Karina Longworth drops by to give a book recommendation: Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz.

Feb 2, 2017

Karina Longworth talks with LARB's Medaya Ocher and Gustavo Turner about her phenomenally successful podcast about old Hollywood, "You Must Remember This," on the occasion of the launch of its new season series on Dead Blondes. Then LARB's Janice Littlejohn talks with African-American Theologian Monica Coleman about her stunning memoir Bipolar Faith. Also LARB Film Editor Anna Schectman drops in to recommend Patricia White's book Women's Cinema/World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms.

Jan 27, 2017

LARB's resident film critic Anna Schectman joins fellow cinephiles Medaya Ocher & Kate Wolf to talk about their favorite foreign films of 2016; focusing on Pedro Almodovar's change of pace, Julieta; Paul Veerhoeven's Elle starring the fiercely sublime Isabelle Huppert; and The Handmaiden, a genre-bending and visually stunning tale of Victorian Korea by Park Chan-Wook. Also, Tom Lutz recommends TC Boyle's The Terranauts (with its surprising Trump Administration tie-in); and praises DH Lawrence's Terra Incognita.

Jan 21, 2017

In part two of LARB in SF, we feature Laurie and Tom's dialogues with one of America's most celebrated authors, Ha Jin, as well as the only path breaking professor of ethnic studies who is also a legendary bandleader, Dr. Loco (aka Jose Cuellar). Ha Jin reflects on literature, cross-cultural insight, and the very real threat of Donald Trump to democracy. Dr Loco reveals the joyous traditions of, and multicultural influences on, Chicano music; and tells tales of his former band mate, a young Tom Lutz. Also, both Laurie and Tom express their appreciation of Lena Dunham's memoir Not That Kind of Girl. The show closes with a reading of Thomas Lux's A Little Tooth.

Jan 12, 2017

This week's Podcast features interviews from LARB's recent live event in San Francisco. Co-hosts Tom Lutz and Laurie Winer speak with Rabih Alameddine about his new book The Angel of History, structures of narrative outside the American mainstream, and the state of poetry in light of Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize; and then Jade Chang talks about her novel The Wangs vs The World, the changing shape of the immigrant tale, and her desire to struggle as a stand-up comic. Then Taschen's Dian Hanson returns to recommend the spectacular erotic photography of China's Ren Hang (soon to be published by Taschen); and we re-listen to CP Cavafy's classic poem Waiting for the Barbarians, pending the arrival of Donald Trump.

Jan 6, 2017

Director Jack Pettibone and Producer Shane Slattery-Quintanilla join LARB's Gustavo Turner to discuss their exceptional new documentary The Seventh Fire. Six years in the making, the film takes an unflinching look at the lives of gang members on an Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota; and discovers men of profound intelligence, acutely aware of the tragic history of their people. Then Dian Hanson, legendary editor of Taschen's sexy books series, drops by to tell the story of trail-blazing gay pornographer, Bob Mizer; and celebrate the publication of The Bob Mizer AMG 1000 Model Directory.

Dec 29, 2016

Host Boris Dralyuk is joined by his fellow soviet-emigre Sasha Razor, and Soviet Scholar David MacFadyen, to conjure the spirit of the Holiday Season in the Workers' Paradise.  Sasha, David, and Boris relate how the beloved Soviet-era traditions remain alive across the vast territories of the USSR; and also among Southern California's huge immigrant communities from the former Communist Empire. Also, Boris and Sasha recommend Peter Pomerantsev's excellent book on Putin's Russia, "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia."

Dec 22, 2016

Hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf decide that in a year unlike any other, it's time for a different approach to holiday gift giving. How can we give the gift of resistance against the anti-democratic forces empowered on November 8th? Medaya and Kate raise this question with guests Adrienna Wong from the ACLU of Southern California, Adrian Martinez from Earthjustice, and Shahid Buttar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Dec 15, 2016

Author Susan Kaiser Greenland talks with Laurie Winer about her new best-selling book Mindful Games: Sharing Mindfulness and Meditation with Children, Teens, and Families. The question is raised: Can mindful meditation be the antidote to the toxicity of Trump? Also, in recognition of Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize in literature, LARB's Gustavo Turner drops by to recommend two works of literature: Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft" and Leonard Cohen's 10 Songs, great albums overlooked because they were released on (or around) 9/11/01. The show closes with Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem Spring and Fall.

Dec 8, 2016

Emily Witt, author of Future Sex, joins co-hosts Laurie Winer, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf for a wide-ranging discussion of changing attitudes towards sex in the digital age. Also, Leo Braudy drops by to talk about one of his earlier works, The Frenzy of Renown, and its particular relevance in The Age of Trump. The show closes with a reading of Edna St Vincent Millay's Love Is Not All.

Dec 1, 2016

Leo Braudy talks with host Laurie Winer about his new book Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds; and its relevance for understanding our terrifying new post-election world. Impresario Paul Crewes recommends Michael Morpurgo's WWII yarn The Amazing Story of Adopho Tips; and we listen to Dorothy Parker's Love Song.

Nov 23, 2016

Paul Crewes, the new Artistic Director of the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, joins host Laurie Winer to discuss the tremendous possibilities for theater in Southern California. Also, author Dinah Lenney stops by to recommend two books: Marisa Silver's Little Nothing; and Nancy Reisman's Trompe L'Oeil. The show closes with a reading of Anne Sexton's poem "To a Friend Whose Work has Come to Triumph."

Nov 17, 2016

Screenwriter John Romano joins Laurie Winer and co-host Dinah Lenney to talk about his adaptation of Philip Roth's 1997 classic novel American Pastoral about a family torn apart amidst the turmoil of the late 1960s. The film directed by Ewan McGregor, who co-stars alongside Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Connelly, was released this past month. A wide-ranging discussion ensues, addressing Roth's relationship to the "meaning" of the 60s, family suffering, Job's suffering, and ours in the age of Trump. Also, author Simon Reynolds drops by to recommend a biography of Occultist Colin Wilson by renaissance man Gary Lachman; and Linda Balgord reads Mark Strand's Eating Poetry.

Nov 10, 2016

Host Evan Kindley talks with Simon Reynolds about his new book "Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century." David Bowie may be Glam's greatest superstar, but figures as diverse as Roxy Music, Alice Cooper, and LA's own Sparks are also central to this most colorful and still-influential 1970's pop movement. The LA Times Jill Leovy drops by to recommend anthropologist Hortence Powdermaker's After Freedom, a study of 1920'as Mississippi; and which remains a stunning reminder of the severe oppression suffered by Black Americans under Jim Crow. This week's poetry reading is of Denise Levertov's Psalm Concerning the Castle.

Nov 3, 2016

Laurie Winer and co-host Medaya Ocher, managing editor of the LA Review, are joined by Jessica Koslow, chef extraordinaire and creator of Sqirl, one of LA's most popular new restaurants - on the occasion of the publication of Jessica's first cookbook, Everything I Want To Eat.  It's the Comfort Radio edition of the podcast, as Laurie and Medaya build up an appetite learning about the secrets behind Jessica's scrumptious creations. Also, Leslie MM Blume drops by to recommend Anita Loos brilliant comic novel from the 1920s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; and Judy Kaye reads ee cummings' Poem I thank God for most this amazing.

Oct 27, 2016

Legendary publisher and editor Robert Gottlieb talks with Laurie about his new memoir Avid Reader; reflects on his glory days at Knopf and The New Yorker; and expresses confidence about the state of writing today. Tracy Tynan offers PG Wodehouse as comfort reading for these treacherous times. Tom and Laurie launch a new poetry feature with a reading of WB Yeats The Second Coming.

Oct 20, 2016

Laurie is joined by LARB legal editor Don Franzen for a discussion on the two competing California Ballot Initiatives related to the Death Penalty: Proposition 62 that calls for an end to the Death Penalty in the state; and Proposition 66, a confusing pro-Death Penalty measure, that calls for speeding up executions. To provide clarity, Laurie and Don are joined by Stephen Rohde, from Death Penalty Focus, and the legendary former District Attorney of Los Angeles County, Gil Garcetti.

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