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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 Editors-at-Large Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher, and Eric Newman.
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Now displaying: July, 2021
Jul 30, 2021

Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by Katie Kitamura to discuss her latest novel, Intimacies, an existential thriller that follows an unnamed narrator who has recently moved to The Hague to serve as an interpreter at the International Criminal Court. Worldly, well-travelled, and multilingual, she excels at her new job, but grows increasingly uneasy. A similar sense of discomfort permeates her close relationships with an art curator, and with her love interest, a married man. Yet it is the Court, where she is interpreting for a former President of a West African nation who has ordered the carrying out of unbelievable atrocities, that gives rise to her strongest anxieties and to her questions about power, confrontations with violence, and the possibility of neutrality.

Also Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground, returns to recommend Anne Michaels’ award-winning 1996 novel Fugitive Pieces

Jul 23, 2021

Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by Rivka Galchen, whose new novel, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, is set in the Holy Roman Empire in 17th-century Germany, amid the plague and the Thirty Years’ War. It fictionalizes the real-life story of Katharina Kepler, the mother of astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. Katharina, an elderly widow who seems to care most for her cow Chamomile, is accused of being a witch by another woman in the small town of Leonberg. Soon everyone in town is testifying to Katharina’s wickedness. Her own side of the story is told by her neighbor, Simon, who acts as her guardian — but as a bookseller later tells him, “People don’t like an old lady’s story.” The novel is told through both fictional testimonials as well as actual translated historical documents.

Also, Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl, returns to recommend Raven Leilani’s acclaimed first novel, Luster.

Jul 16, 2021

Boris Dralyuk and Medaya Ocher are joined by author Claire Fuller to discuss her new novel, Unsettled Ground, this season’s selection for the LARB Book Club. Born in Oxfordshire, Claire Fuller is the author of four novels: her Desmond Elliot Prize-winning debut Our Endless Numbered Days, as well as Swimming LessonsBitter Orange, and her latest, the griping, intensely evocative, and often unsettling Unsettled Ground, a finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The book begins with the death of a woman, which sets her 51-year-old twin children on a difficult journey of survival and discovery.

Also, Kate Zambreno, author of To Write As If Already Dead, returns to recommend Bhanu Kapil's book of poetry How to Wash a Heart.

Jul 9, 2021

Eric and Medaya are joined by Zakiya Dalila Harris to discuss The Other Black Girl; her sharp and often funny debut novel that centers large contemporary questions about the politics of race as it encounters diversity, inclusivity, and representation through the unique lens of working in the publishing industry. 

The novel opens from the perspective of Nella Rogers, the only Black girl in the editorial department at a prestigious publishing house.  Nella has to navigate the familiar landmines of race in the modern workplace: microaggressions from her white coworkers, diversity initiatives that no one takes seriously, and the daily exhaustion of navigating the elite cultural spaces she's managed to gain access to but which definitely are not built nor maintained for her.

Then, shortly after Nella raises concerns about racist stereotypes in the manuscript of one of the publisher's most famous white male authors, she starts receiving anonymous notes telling her to leave the publisher if she knows what's good for her. What was previously claustrophobic and uninviting begins to feel much more sinister. 

Bouncing between mystery, satire, and an indictment of the modern publishing industry, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL keeps the reader guessing right up to its haunting end and we're thrilled to have Zakiya here with us to break it all down.

Also, Davarian L Baldwin, the author of The Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities, returns to recommend Ralph Ellison's ever-brilliant 1952 novel, Invisible Man. 

Jul 2, 2021

Kate and Eric speak with writer and historian Davarian L. Baldwin, the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Lab at Trinity College. His newest book is In The Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities, an exploration of the often uneasy relationship between universities and the cities they inhabit. The book draws on numerous examples, such as Yale, Columbia, NYU, University of Chicago and even Trinity College, to show the impact schools have on their surrounding neighborhoods. As often as not, these universities are drivers of inequality, displacement, and gentrification. In an era of post-industrialization, universities have replaced factories to regularly become the largest employers of their cities, with tax-exempt status to boot, giving them an undue amount of power, while their focus remains on self-enrichment. 

Also, we are joined by Susan Bernofsky, author of Clairvoyant of the Small, a book length study of the the life and works of Robert Walser. Susan recommends Kate  Zambreno's To Write as if Already Dead, which is itself a study of the work of author and artist Herve Guibert, who died in his early thirties from AIDS.

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