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LARB Radio Hour

51
LARB Radio Hour

Los Angeles Review of Books

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The Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour is a weekly show featuring interviews, readings and discussions about all things literary. Hosted by LARB Editor-at-Large Kate Wolf, Managing Editor Medaya Ocher, and Gender and Sexuality Editor, Eric Newman.
 
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show series
 
Writer Dodie Bellamy joins Kate Wolf to speak about her latest collection, Bee Reaved. The book gathers nearly 20 essays Bellamy has written over the last few years, with a focus on the state of bereavement, examining not only the loss of her husband Kevin Killian, but the loss of other artists, physical objects, her own past lives, and radical soc…
 
Kate Wolf speaks with writer Kelefa Sanneh about his debut book, Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres. An exhaustive, enthralling breakdown of the last 50 years in music, Major Labels diagrams the American sonic landscape, Alfred Barr-style, in the discrete yet overlapping categories of rock, R&B, country, punk, hip hop, dance, …
 
Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by author Cynthia Cruz to discuss The Melancholia of Class: A Manifesto for the Working Class. A mix of memoir, cultural theory, and polemic, Cruz’s latest work addresses the personal and social consequences of the marginalization of America’s majority population, its working class. Cruz speaks about what inspi…
 
Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by documentary filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, who are perhaps best known for RGB, their Academy Award-nominated documentary about late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That film provided the impetus for their latest project, My Name Is Pauli Murray, which traces the career of a fierce warrio…
 
Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf are joined by writer, critic, and philosopher Amia Srinivasan, whose new book is The Right to Sex: Feminism in the 21st Century. Amia is a professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College at Oxford and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books. The essays in her book probe how we think and talk abou…
 
Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by Maggie Nelson to discuss her latest book, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint. In 2015, Nelson’s bestselling, genre-defying The Argonauts won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and her other works of criticism, memoir, and poetry include The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning; Women, The New York Sch…
 
Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by poet Kaveh Akbar to talk about his latest collection, Pilgrim Bell. Whereas Akbar's previous collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, meditated on addiction and the challenges of recovery, Pilgrim Bell figures a turn to the spiritual and the possibility of repair, focusing on the damaged self, the abuses of empi…
 
Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by Rachel Greenwald Smith to discuss her new book, On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal. On Compromise takes a critical look at liberalism’s persistent push towards the center in both political and artistic realms. Instead of Compromise as a measure of good in and of itself, Smith arg…
 
Matthew Specktor, one of the founding editors of the Los Angeles Review of Books, joins Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to discuss his newest book, Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California. A memoir and cultural history, Always Crashing explores the work and lives of writers, actors, directors, and musicians who strad…
 
Eric Newman talks with Nawaaz Ahmed about his debut novel, Radiant Fugitives, which loosely centers on Seema, a woman who makes a life for herself as a San Francisco-based campaign worker for progressive politicians after her Muslim family in Chennai, India reject her for being a lesbian. As the book opens, Seema is dying just as she is about to gi…
 
Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by Hogir Hirori to talk about his latest film, Sabaya, which documents the heroic efforts to rescue women and girls from ISIS slavery at a refugee camp in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. Sabaya, which premiered at Sundance and is now available nationwide, is a moving and visceral documentary that follows…
 
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 une…
 
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 elderl…
 
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 Lessons, Bitter Orange, and her latest, t…
 
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…
 
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 …
 
Eric and Medaya talk with queer writer Kristen Arnett about her knew novel, With Teeth, which centers on the troubled relationships between Sammie, her wife Monica and their son, Samson. As Samson grows up, it becomes clear that he isn't quite like the other children. He is emotionally aloof and prone o outbursts. As a teenager, he's even more of a…
 
On this week's show we're joined by two authors, Kate Zambreno and Susan Bernofsky, who have both written a magisterial work about a past literary master. First, Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf talk with Kate Zambreno about To Write as if Already Dead, a study of the writing and photography of Herve Guibert (1955-1991); and, in particular, his work To T…
 
Author Joan Silber, whose previous work Improvement won both the National Book Critic’s Circle Aware and the Pen Faulkner Award, joins Eric and Kate to discuss her new novel Secrets of Happiness, a multi-vocal story that radiates out from a single family dealing with a father's intimate betrayal. He has a secret family that he told nobody about. As…
 
Professor Carol Anderson, whose previous work White Rage won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, joins Eric and Kate to discuss her latest book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. The Second takes a long historical look at the emergence and development of the second amendment—"A well regulated Militia, being necessary …
 
Filmmaker Matthew Heineman joins Eric to talk about his latest documentary, THE BOY FROM MEDELLIN, which centers on reggeton superstar J Balvin (the voice and creative force behind such massive hits as MI GENTE, I LIKE IT,, AGUA, and countless other songs). Heineman's camera turns its gaze on Balvin as the pop star returns to his home city of Medel…
 
Writer Sarah Schulman joins Kate and Eric to discuss her new book Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York 1987-1993. A longtime activist, Sarah was a participant in the history she writes about. Back in 1987 Sarah joined The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, known as ACT UP, in New York City. Let the Record Show is a focused, exc…
 
Kate and Medaya are joined by feminist critic Jacqueline Rose to discuss her new book On Violence and On Violence Against Women. Jacqueline's addresses the prevalence and persistence of violence through the analytical lenses of feminism, history, psychoanalysis, politics, and literature. Jacqueline argues that violence in our times thrives on a for…
 
Brooklyn-based artist and writer Larissa Pham joins Medaya and Eric to discuss her debut collection Pop Song: Adventures in Art and Intimacy. Larissa contributed to the collection KINK (previously covered here), with a piece that deals with themes of violence and desire, which are equally reflected in the new collection - and which Larissa addresse…
 
Eric and Daya speak with the acclaimed short story writer and novelist Helen Oyeyemi. Born in Nigeria, Oyeyemi grew up in England, and her first novel, the Icarus Girl was published while she was still in high school. Her other work includes the short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, along with five other novels, including Mr. Fox, …
 
On a special LARB Book Club episode of the Radio Hour, Boris Dralyuk and Medaya Ocher are joined by George Saunders, author of four collections of virtuosic short stories and of the novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. His latest work is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing,…
 
Kate Wolf is joined by writer and film critic Nick Pinkerton to discuss his book-length essay on Tsai Ming-liang’s film Goodbye, Dragon Inn, which revolves around the final screening at a cinema in Taiwan — on the very day that 300 movie theaters were shuttered across Southern California. The book is both a eulogy and a call to arms for cinema. Kat…
 
Kate and Medaya are joined by Rachel Kushner, author previously of Telex from Cuba and the Flamethrowers, both nominated for the National Book Award, and The Mars Room, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Award. Rachel's new book is a collection of her essays from the past two decades, The Hard Crowd, which exhibits the inspiring breadth …
 
Kate and Medaya talk with poet, essayist, and critic Jackie Wang about her new collection of poetry The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void. As an Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School, Wang also works on race, surveillance technology, and the political economy of prisons and police. In her poetry, she uses …
 
Medaya talks with renowned essayist and fiction writer Jo Ann Beard, whose latest collection is called Festival Days. Near the beginning of the book, Jo Ann writes that there’s an element of fiction in her essays and essays in her fiction - an idea she elaborates on during the conversation. Jo Ann shares much about her own life and development as a…
 
Eric Newman is joined by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein to discuss her book The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, which opens up with some very heavy science, explaining quarks, dark matter and other phenomena that point to the limits of our knowledge about the how the universe, and everything in it, funct…
 
Kate and Medaya speak with two heralded debut novelists. First up is Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind, about Dorothy, a failing adjunct professor in New York City, who suffers a miscarriage, and struggles to maintain her resilience in an unwelcoming world. Christine explains how the novel came to be and reflects on why Dorothy’s …
 
Kate and Medaya welcome essayist Brian Dillon, author of Suppose a Sentence which offers sharp analysis (along with intriguing discursus) of 27 sentences, both celebrated and obscure, from the likes of William Shakespeare, James Baldwin, John Ruskin, and Joan Didion. Brian opens the show with a passage from his introduction, a paean to the work of …
 
Kate Wolf talks with Claudio Lomnitz, author of Nuestra America: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation, which traces his family's history in the Jewish diaspora from the Eastern European region of Bessarabia to South America and onto Mexico. Claudio tells tales of his relatives, in particular, his maternal grandfather Misha Adler, a scholar and p…
 
Kate and Daya talk with Lauren Oyler, one of the country's leading literary critics, about her first novel, Fake Accounts; which is about a central character who breaks up with her boyfriend after discovering that he's an online conspiracy theorist. She then moves to Berlin where goes on a series of dates under different personas. The conversation …
 
A double dip, rife with romance, and right on time for a celebration of sex and love. First, Jeremy Atherton Lin joins Eric and Medaya to talk about his new book Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, which covers both the history of Gay Bars and Jeremy's personal history in London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles - with a consideration of how these iconic socia…
 
This week it's a doubleheader. First, Eric and Medaya, speak with Taylor Renee Aldridge, the Visual Arts Curator and Program Manager at the California Afrcian-American Museum, about a new exhibit Enunciated Life that centers around notions of surrender in Black Spiritual Life - inspired, in part, by the work of Ashon Crawley. Then, LARB contributor…
 
Hosts Kate and Medaya are joined by New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert, whose new book is called Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, in which Kolbert explores the many ways humans intervene in nature. Kolbert discusses invasive species, the sinking of New Orleans, the triage plan for climate change …
 
In a special LARB Book Club edition of the Radio Hour, Eric Newman and Boris Dralyuk sit down with R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, co-editors of Kink, a new anthology that aims to push the boundaries of traditional literary representations of love, desire, and sexual behavior. Kink features work by Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, …
 
In this encore presentation, on the occasion of Fran Lebowitz's new show Pretend It's a City, Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf speak with legendary public speaker Fran Lebowitz. In a wide-ranging conversation, the gang flits from the Kavanaugh hearings to how the uber-rich have blighted the landscape of New York, from the escapism of literat…
 
In an encore presentation, Kate and Medaya talk with award-winning screenwriter and novelist Charles Yu about his book, Interior Chinatown; an experimental, yet eminently enjoyable, novel-in-the-form-of-a-screenplay, which won the 2020 National Book Award for fiction. Charles discusses how he came to write such a formally challenging book, in which…
 
Author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio joins co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to talk about The Undocumented Americans, which is both a memoir and a series of essays about immigrant laborers from across the country. Karla shares her own experiences as an immigrant child, the trauma it has caused her; and relates how widespread, and under-acknowledge…
 
Big Freedia is a 21st Century musical trailblazer from the Dirty South, who emerged from the Bounce music scene in New Orleans and has helped popularize the genre across the country and the world. Big Freedia joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to discuss her new memoir God Save the Queen Diva; and talk about how she, and dance club culture…
 
Eric, Kate, and Medaya talk with Kiese about the struggle to buy his work back from the original publisher in order to revise and republish them, an experience that highlights the imbalance of power in the industry and the commodification of a writer’s work. The gang also chats about how the intervening years, including the Trump presidency now com…
 
Medaya and Eric are joined by Alex Ross, the New Yorker's longtime music critic and author of Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadows of Music. Wagner's wide reaching influence across centuries, thinkers and artists reaches far beyond the realm of music. As they explore the complexity of his impact, the conversation wrestles with the stain of an…
 
This week co-hosts Kate and Medaya are joined by author Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, whose latest book is the collection of short stories Likes. Sarah discusses the magic of childhood, the difficulties of family life in the current political climate, and ways to see the quotidian in new and unexpected ways. Also, Richard Seymour, author of The Twittering…
 
Co-hosts Kate and Eric speak with filmmaker Alexander Nanau about his stunning new documentary Collective about corruption in the Romanian Hospital system, government, and the broader society. Alexander discusses the terrifying story at the heart of the film, the state of politics in his home country, and how he produced the film. If a tale like Co…
 
We’re joined by Tom Zoellner, award-winning author and the LA Review of Books Politics Editor. Tom and the co-hosts talk about the election, the tenor of the online political debate, and the future of patriotism. We also discuss Tom’s new book, The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America, a collection of essays from Tom’s travels througho…
 
This week's show opens with Kate, Eric, and Medaya sharing their thoughts on the morning after Election Day. At the time, Joe Biden seemed to have a pathway to victory; but the trauma of the previous evening when, for a few hours, Trump seemed destined to repeat his improbable feat from four years earlier. The conversation revolves around a shared …
 
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