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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: October, 2022
Oct 28, 2022

Eric Newman and Kate Wolf speak with the novelist and critic Darryl Pinckney about his new memoir, Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan. The book recounts Pinckney’s relationship with a legend of American letters: the singular stylist Elizabeth Hardwick. Hardwick was Pinckney’s professor in a creative writing class at Barnard in the early 1970s, and they quickly became close friends. She invited him into her home, into her writing process, and into a world of New York literary culture and gossip, which Pinckney doles out here in generous cupfuls. It was through Hardwick that Pinckney met Barbara Epstein, an editor and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, where he began his writing career. His memoir documents a critical time in both his own life and in Hardwick’s, including the dissolution of her marriage to the poet Robert Lowell, and the composition of her masterful novel, Sleepless Nights.
Also, Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows, returns to recommend "Old Boys Old Girls" a short story by Edward P. Jones from his collection All Aunt Hagar's Children.

Oct 21, 2022

On this special LARB Book Club episode of the Radio Hour, Boris Dralyuk and Medaya Ocher are joined by Namwali Serpell, to speak about her new novel, The Furrows. One of the most daring and protean literary voices working today, Serpell is a Zambian-born novelist and essayist, and a professor of English at Harvard University. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, a genre-bending saga tracing the legacies of three families, appeared in 2019 and won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, and the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her equally unclassifiable — a compliment, that — work of nonfiction, Stranger Faces, appeared the following year, as part of Transit Books’ series of Undelivered Lectures, and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Serpell is also the recipient of a 2020 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, and a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Like The Old Drift, The Furrows defies narrative conventions and readerly expectations, but it does so with a narrower aim in view, homing in on the after-affects — which are, truth be told, manifold — of a particular, though uncertain, trauma, an event that fractures the protagonist’s life and sense of self at the age of 12. Blamed for the death of her younger brother, Cassandra is haunted by the presence of his absence — or is it simply his presence? — for the rest of her days. What Serpell’s novel tells us is what Cassandra promises to tell us: not what happened, but how it felt.
Also, Kathern Scanlan, author of Kick the Latch returns to recommend Charles Reznikoff's Testimony: The United States 1885-1915: Recitative.

Oct 14, 2022

Kathryn Scanlan joins Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to discuss her new novel, Kick the Latch. A series of taut, electrifying vignettes based on real-life interviews, the book narrates the life of Sonia, a horse trainer in rural Iowa, who enters the world of competitive racing while still in high school. Sonia’s experiences at the racetrack are by turns exultant and brutal: they take place in an atmosphere in which both human and animal are often pushed to the edge of their lives in the name of winning it all. But Sonia’s grit, devotion, and perseverance serve to counter to the exceptional details of her life and work. In her, Scanlan crafts a uniquely humane and gripping voice that reveals itself in small details, idiosyncratic phrases, and deep tenderness.
Also, Hua Hsu, author of Stay True, returns to recommend Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book.

Oct 7, 2022

Hua Hsu joins Eric Newman to discuss his latest book, STAY TRUE. The memoir recounts Hua's feeling of being caught between the Taiwanese culture of his immigrant parents and the burgeoning Silicon Valley suburbs in which he was raised. A lifeline of sorts is thrown to him in the form of Ken Ishida, a confident young man from a multigenerational Japanese American family. At first, it seems that Ken has every Hua lacks—the looks, the easy social confidence, a finger on the pulse of American culture. But during their friendship those first years of college, the young men support and lean on each other as they grow into adults with bright—if intangible—futures ahead of them. But one night, a shocking and random act of violence takes Ken away and Hua and his friends must try to makes sense of a senseless tragedy and pull back together the broken lives left in its wake.
Also, Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less is Lost, returns to recommend Julian Delgado Lopera's Fiebre Tropical.

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