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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, 2024
Jun 28, 2024

Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by New Yorker staff writer and former television critic Emily Nussbaum to discuss her book Cue the Sun! The Invention of Reality TV. Nussbaum's overview of the most dominant genre of our time moves from reality TV's origins in radio to its role in forging the public image of a US president. In a sweeping conversation, the hosts and Nussbaum break down some of the unsung heroes and incredible stories behind the creation of our nostalgic reality TV touchstones, the harbingers of a darker genre to come, and its relationship to broad, tectonic social and political changes in American life.
Also, Patrick Nathan, author of The Future was Color, returns to recommend Housemates: A Novel by Emma Copley Eisenberg.

Jun 21, 2024

Medaya Ocher and Eric Newman speak with author Patrick Nathan about his latest novel, and this month's LARB Book Club pick, The Future Was Color. The novel chronicles the life of Hungarian immigrant writer George Curtis. When we meet George, he's writing the hacky sort of monster movies that are today's cult classics, trying to find sex and love amid the closeted ambiance of life between the wars and in the midst of the McCarthyite purges of communists and homosexuals that plagued the mid-century film industry. As George demurs writing the studio's next big hit to create something of greater substance about Hungary and the war from his exile perspective, he follows a passionate affair with his coworker in the writers' room. But when he departs the studio office for a residency of sorts with a Malibu actress and her gay husband, a dramatic chain reaction brings new motivations and possibilities to light. A novel about a moment in time that is also in so many ways timeless, The Future Was Color is an exploration of the line between the personal and political, between safety and risk, the art we create and the art that creates us.

Also, Claire Messud, author of This Strange Eventful History, returns to recommend Susie Boyt's novel, Loved and Missed.

Jun 14, 2024

Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf are joined by celebrated writer Claire Messud, the author of six works of fiction including the highly-acclaimed bestseller The Emperor's Children.  Messud's latest novel is This Strange Eventful History, which follows the Cassars, a Pied-Noir family from Algeria, who find themselves constantly displaced by the changing tides of history, first by World War II and then by Algerian independence. Partly based on her own family's story, the book traces the story of each family member, across three generations, as they encounter the world as well as their own personal joys and tragedies. The novel is, of course, about history, both personal and global, as well as the ways people build homes outide of their homelands.

Jun 11, 2024

In this special episode, hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newman debate an age-old question that's being taken up in new ways amid an increasingly atomized landscape for thinking and writing about the literature and art that moves (as well as enervates) us. What does it mean for criticism to "matter"? And what indications do we have that it does beyond the measure of the marketplace? The hosts discuss what they think has changed—and hasn't—about how and where reviews circulate, the art of the take down, what they look for in a good piece of criticism, and if you can trust the New York Times Book Review. They also discuss the many roles critics play—from forming canons to puncturing them, using specific language, and transforming personal taste and sensibility into something that can, occasionally, change culture.

Jun 7, 2024

Rachel Khong joins Eric Newman to discuss her latest novel, Real Americans. Divided into three parts that each trace the experiences of different generations of a Chinese American family, the book delves into the thickets of identity, exploring how cultural strictures and the chaos of love shape our reality. The first section, set in 1999, recounts the romance between Lily, a second generation Chinese American media intern in New York, and Matthew, the WASPy private equity investor of the company where she struggles to eke out a living. The second section transports us to Seattle in 2021, where Lily's son, Nick, is navigating the end of high school and early college years with his father, Matthew, conspicuously absent. When Nick reconnects with Matthew through a DNA ancestry test, old wounds heal even as new ones are opened up in the wake of long-buried family secrets. In the final section, Nick's grandmother reflects on her experience fleeing Mao Zedong's China to make a new life in the United States, while trying to reconcile with a tattered and scattered family in present-day San Francisco. As these three lives are woven together and torn apart, Real Americans moves propulsively through questions of race, class, and gender as its characters work to understand their relationship to inheritance, variously conceived, around the tripwires of silence, desire, and pain.
Also, Erik Davis, author of Blotter: The Untold Story of an Acid Medium, returns to recommend Dale Pendell's Pharmako Trilogy.

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