Poet Jeffrey Yang joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to discuss Hey, Marfa, his heralded new collection. In poems that balance between intimacy and alienation, Hey, Marfa explores the unique history of the tiny town where art, history and culture intersect in the vastness of the Texas desert. Yang talks about his writing practice, what it means to write from and about a place, and the figures he encountered in Marfa that continue to fascinate him.
Also, John Wray, author of Godsend, returns to recommend Joaquin Maria Machado de Assis' miraculous classic The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, which John describes as a post-modern tour de force that happened to be written in Brazil in the 1880s.
Oscar season is upon us and our fearless co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf bravely tender their predictions and preferences in a range of categories. There's a lotta love for Glenn Close and The Favorite; not so much for A Star is Born; respect for Roma; and a special focus on documentaries because we've interviewed the directors of many of this year's favorites (having featured last year's winner, Icarus). Medaya and Kate spoke with Sandi Tan, director of Shirkers; Eric talked to Bing Liu, director of Minding the Gap; and Morgan Neville discussed his film Won't You Be My Neighbor? with Kate and Eric; but we've chosen... to bring you a command performance of Eric and Daya's interview with Tim Wardle, director of Three Identical Strangers.
Also, author Julietta Singh returns to recommend The Queer Art of Failure by Jack Halberstam, which features close readings of Pixar Films which celebrate a new generation of animated films which embrace characters, narratives, and communities that counter the traditional tropes of patriarchal, hetero-normative, heroic individualism.
Legendary essayist John McPhee joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to discuss his latest collection The Patch. Reflecting on his long career in creative non-fiction and journalism, McPhee talks about the duty of the writer to get out of the way of the story and bemoans the rise of the branded writer in the age of social media. In place of speed, McPhee extolls the virtue of slowness, the time it takes for a writer to develop his voice, to collect material and to divine the associations and structures through which it might breathe itself into a story.
Also, author Julietta Singh returns to recommend Bhanu Kapil's Humanimal: A Project for Future Children.
Wayetu Moore speaks with host Eric Newman about her debut novel She Would Be King, which interweaves history with magical realism to re-tell Liberia's founding in the 19th century. The Allegorical tale revolves around three characters: an immortal woman Vai, exiled from her indigenous community; an African-American man June Dey, who possesses super-human strength; and Norman Aragon, half-white from Jamaica, with the magical power to vanish. As the three stories merge, Liberia is born. Wayetu tells Eric about her family's history in Liberia, their move to America when Wayetu was five years old during a civil war, her subsequent relationship to Liberia, and what motivated her to write its foundation myth in such a beautiful and mystical form.