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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: June, 2022
Jun 24, 2022

Author Ottessa Moshfegh returns to speak to Kate Wolf about her latest novel, Lapvona. The book is set in the eponymous medieval village, a place beset by violence and extreme cruelty. Its ruler is the loutish Villiam, who engineers massacres of Lapvona’s inhabitants whenever dissent grows, and also steals their water during a deadly drought. Villiam’s distant relative, Jude, is a shepherd who beats his son, Marek, and lies about the fate of Marek’s supposedly deceased mother. Marek weathers his father’s abuse through his devotion to God and the soothing of the village wet nurse, Ina, but his piety doesn’t keep him from committing brutal acts of his own. In a fatal twist, he ends up in the care of Villiam, on the hill above the suffering villagers, increasingly complicit in Lapvona’s corruption — a turn of events as germane today as it was a thousand years ago.

Also, Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or, returns to recommend Nino Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin.

Jun 17, 2022

Author Nell Zink joins Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to talk about her latest novel, Avalon. The book is a coming of age novel centered on Bran, a young woman abandoned by her parents, left to fend for herself on a Southern California farm where she helps raise and sell exotic plants amid the looming presence of a biker gang. When Bran meets Peter, a college student thick on theory and philosophy, she glimpses the possibility of a lush new world of ideas and possibility. The two share a tortured and sweet romance through which Bran enters the world of ideas as a young writer coming into her identity, a relationship that promises an escape to a new life she glimpses just on the horizon.
Also, Shelly Oria, editor of the anthology, I Know What’s Best for You: Stories on Reproductive Freedom, returns to recommend four books (the first three by contributors to the anthology): Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach; The Stars are not yet Bells byHannah Lilith Assadi; American Estrangement, a short story collection, by Said Sayrafiezadeh; and A Lie that Someone Told You about Yourself by Peter Ho Davies.

Jun 10, 2022

Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by the revered writer and artist Renee Gladman to speak about her latest book, Plans for Sentences. Plans for Sentences is a collection of ink and watercolor drawings paired with texts, each duo labeled as a “figure,” making 60 figures in all. The drawings combine the loops and scribbles of words and letters with the lines of cityscapes and buildings. The text meanwhile outlines what the titular “sentences” of the book will do. Together, Gladman seems to create a new kind of architecture, made up of a blend of words and images, solid and in flux at the same time. The plans here are for the future.
Also, John Markoff, author of The Many Lives of Stewart Brand, returns to recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry for the Future.

Jun 3, 2022
Novelist and New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman joins Kate Wolf to discuss her latest book, Either/Or. A sequel to 2017's The Idiot, the novel follows Batuman’s protagonist Selin in her sophomore year at Harvard University in 1996. Endearingly sincere in her efforts to understand the world around her, Selin turns most often to the books she reads for her literature major to do so, especially the titular work by Kierkegaard, which allows her to consider the merits of an aesthetic life versus an ethical one. It’s The Seducer’s Diary portion of Kierkegaard’s book, however, that Selin finds herself most interested in—and horrified by. It helps explain the mystifying behavior of her crush, Ivan, with whom nothing much of consequence has happened. But are books really a reflection of life? And might Selin write a novel of her own? Selin's quest for understanding eventually leads her away from campus and to her native Turkey and then Russia where she connects more deeply with experiences outside of literature and finally finds herself living on her own terms.
Also, Dan Lopez, author of The Show House, drops by to recommend Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer
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