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27 minutes | Oct 5, 2020
Teddy Wayne on 'Apartment'
Teddy Wayne joins me to discuss his novel 'Apartment.' In 1996, the unnamed narrator of Teddy Wayne’s Apartment is attending the MFA writing program at Columbia on his father’s dime and living in an illegal sublet of a rent-stabilized apartment. Feeling guilty about his good fortune, he offers his spare bedroom--rent-free--to Billy, a talented, charismatic classmate from the Midwest eking out a hand-to-mouth existence in Manhattan. The narrator’s rapport with Billy develops into the friendship he’s never had due to a lifetime of holding people at arm’s length, hovering at the periphery, feeling “fundamentally defective.” But their living arrangement, not to mention their radically different upbringings, breeds tensions neither man could predict. Interrogating the origins of our contemporary political divide and its ties to masculinity and class, Apartment is a gutting portrait of one of New York’s many lost, disconnected souls by a writer with an uncommon aptitude for embodying them.
20 minutes | Nov 5, 2019
Carmen Maria Machado on 'In the Dream House'
Carmen Maria Machado joins me to discuss her memoir 'In the Dream House.' 'In the Dream House' is Machado’s wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. That struggle gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope―the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman―through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles.
29 minutes | Jun 18, 2019
Ryan Chapman on 'Riots I Have Known'
Ryan Chapman joins me to discuss his debut novel 'Riots I Have Known.' An unnamed Sri Lankan inmate has barricaded himself inside a prison computer lab in Dutchess County, New York. A riot rages outside, incited by a poem published in The Holding Pen, the house literary journal. This, our narrator’s final Editor’s Letter, is his confession. An official accounting of events, as they happened.
38 minutes | May 15, 2019
Namwali Serpell on 'The Old Drift'
Namwali Serpell joins me to discuss her debut novel 'The Old Drift.' 1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families as they collide and converge over the course of the century. As the generations pass, their lives—their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes—emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction.
28 minutes | Apr 3, 2019
Nathan Englander on 'Kaddish.com'
Nathan Englander joins me to discuss his new novel 'Kaddish.com.' Larry is the secular son in a family of Orthodox Brooklyn Jews. When his father dies, it’s his responsibility to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror and dismay of his sister, Larry refuses—imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. To appease her, Larry hatches an ingenious if cynical plan, hiring a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to recite the prayer and shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest. But after a religious awakening, Larry realizes that he may have sacrificed too much.
23 minutes | Mar 12, 2019
Sam Lipsyte on 'Hark'
Sam Lipsyte joins Stephen to discuss his new novel 'Hark.' In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status.
25 minutes | Feb 26, 2019
Lauren Wilkinson on 'American Spy'
Lauren Wilkinson joins Stephen to discuss her debut novel 'American Spy'. It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant, but she's also a young black woman working in an old boys' club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. 'American Spy' has won starred and rave reviews in every publication from Kirkus to Time. Publisher’s Weekly writes, "[This] unflinching, incendiary debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison’s 'Invisible Man.'"
39 minutes | Feb 12, 2019
Garth Greenwell on 'What Belongs to You'
Garth Greenwell joins Stephen to discuss his debut novel 'What Belongs to You. 'What Belongs to You' follows an American teacher who enters a public bathroom in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he meets the charismatic young hustler Mitko, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, drawn by hunger and loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. 'What Belongs to You' won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries.
30 minutes | Feb 1, 2019
Ling Ma on 'Severance'
Ling Ma joins host Stephen Fishbach to discuss her debut novel 'Severance.' 'Severance' follows Candace Chen, a 20 something New Yorker who works as a production coordinator at a Bible manufacturer - when the end of the world hits. Shen Fever makes people repeat their daily routines, until they die. Candace must join a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. 'Severance' won the 2018 Kirkus Prize, was a New York Times notable book, and was named as a best book of 2018 at Elle, NPR, the Chicago Review of Books, Vulture, Marie Claire, Refinery 29, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and more.
26 minutes | Jan 18, 2019
Teddy Wayne on 'Loner'
Teddy Wayne joins host Stephen Fishbach to discuss his novel 'Loner.' 'Loner' follows Harvard freshman David Federman, who becomes increasingly obsessed with his classmate Veronica. Published in September of 2016, 'Loner' now seems a prescient look at an angry, disaffected young man who demands more from his life. Loner was named a "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, Kirkus, New York post, and Bookish.
32 minutes | Jan 4, 2019
Jaclyn Gilbert on 'Late Air'
Jaclyn Gilbert joins host Stephen Fishbach to discuss her debut novel 'Late Air.' When Murray - a Yale college running coach - finds his star athlete crumpled and unresponsive during a routine practice on the campus golf course one morning, he is forced to reconcile with his repressed past and increasingly tenuous grip on life. Told from interlocking perspectives, 'Late Air' circles the story of a marriage shattered by a nameless tragedy.
22 minutes | Dec 21, 2018
Joshua Max Feldman on 'Start Without Me'
Joshua Max Feldman joins host Stephen Fishbach to discuss his novel 'Start Without Me.' Joshua Max Feldman is a writer of fiction and theater. Start Without Me - his second novel - explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance on Thanksgiving Day.
31 minutes | Dec 4, 2018
Jeff VanderMeer on 'Annihilation'
In the debut episode, author Jeff VanderMeer joins host Stephen Fishbach to discuss his novel 'Annihilation.' Jeff is the author dozens of novels, short stories, literary criticism, nonfiction, and basically anything else a person can write, including stellar tweets. He has been called "the Weird Thoreau" by the New Yorker. 'Annihilation,' the first book of his Southern Reach trilogy, won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson awards, and was adapted into a movie by director Alex Garland.
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