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The New Yorker Radio Hour
36 minutes | a day ago
A Novel About a Secret Family, and Adam Gopnik on Being Old
Sanaë Lemoine’s début novel, “The Margot Affair,” is about a seventeen-year-old high-school student whose father, a high-ranking official, does not acknowledge her or her mother publicly. In telling Margot’s story, Lemoine drew upon her own complex family history: when she was twenty-one, she discovered that her father had a secret second family. In an act of literary justice, Margot decides to take action to force her father’s public acknowledgement, in a way that Lemoine herself did not. Plus, Adam Gopnik explores the predicament of an aging population. People of retirement age will outnumber children in the U.S. in about fifteen years, but they are poorly served by the field of design. Gopnik sets out to experience their difficulties firsthand.
17 minutes | 5 days ago
The Fight to Turn Georgia Blue
This month, Georgia flipped: its voters picked a Democrat for President for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first-term election. To a significant degree, Charles Bethea says, this was owing to political organizing among Black voters; after all, Donald Trump still received approximately seventy per cent of the white vote. Bethea tells David Remnick about the political evolution of the state, and he speaks with two Democratic organizers: Nsé Ufot, the C.E.O. of the New Georgia Project, and Royce Reeves, Sr., a city commissioner in Cordele, Georgia.
42 minutes | 8 days ago
Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, and Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax
Between the two of them, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin have nearly a century of experience in the delicate art of telling jokes. In a conversation with Susan Morrison during the 2020 New Yorker Festival, they discussed their long careers, learning how to adjust to new cultural forces, and the process of aging. Plus, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform a piece of music that they have both been playing for more than forty years: Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major. “This is such open, hopeful music,” Ax said. Yet Beethoven signed one manuscript of the music, “amid tears and sorrow.” “I thought this was a good piece for this moment,” Ma told The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross. “Because people are suffering, and we do think that music can give comfort.”
11 minutes | 12 days ago
Jane Mayer on the G.O.P.’s Post-Trump Game
The President’s fantastical allegations about “illegal ballots” are being indulged by quite a number of prominent Republicans in Washington, who have declined to acknowledge Joe Biden as President-elect. If Republicans in some key state legislatures go further and appoint electors who disregard their states’ popular votes, the electoral chaos would be disastrous. To understand how the politicians may proceed, David Remnick spoke with Jane Mayer, who has written extensively about today’s GO.P. and the forces that drive it.
18 minutes | 15 days ago
Jill Lepore on Democracy in Peril, Then and Now
In the nineteen-thirties, authoritarian regimes were on the rise around the world—as they are again today—and democratic governments that came into existence after the First World War were toppling. “American democracy, too, staggered,” Jill Lepore wrote in The New Yorker, “weakened by corruption, monopoly, apathy, inequality, political violence, hucksterism, racial injustice, unemployment, even starvation.” Lepore talks with David Remnick about how Americans rallied to save democracy, and how we might apply those lessons in a new era with similar problems. This segment originally aired on January 31, 2020.
35 minutes | 19 days ago
A Chaotic Election Ends—Maybe?
No matter the vote count, legal challenges and resistance in Washington continue to make this election historically fraught. David Remnick speaks about the state of the race with some of The New Yorker’s political thinkers: Evan Osnos on Biden’s candidacy, Jeannie Suk Gersen on how the Supreme Court may respond, Susan Glasser on Mitch McConnell’s hold on power, and Amy Davidson Sorkin on Washington and the nation.
52 minutes | a month ago
Trump in Review
The Presidency of Donald Trump has been unlike any other in America’s history. While many of his core promises remain unfulfilled, he managed to reshape our politics in just four years. On the cusp of the 2020 election, David Remnick assesses the Trump Administration’s impact on immigration policy, the climate, white identity politics, and the judiciary. He’s joined by Jeannie Suk Gersen, Jonathan Blitzer, Bill McKibben, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Andrew Marantz.
22 minutes | a month ago
Driving Through the Pandemic
It feels like a lifetime since the coronavirus pandemic transformed Americans’ daily lives, seven months ago, and fatigue is setting in even as the disease ravages new regions. The staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman talked with one of the people who has a unique perspective on those terrifying first weeks when the world seemed to be ending. Terence Layne is a bus operator for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a chief shop steward for the Transport Workers Union. The city’s transit workers were among the hardest hit of all essential workers, and over a hundred and twenty M.T.A. employees have died from the virus. Yet Layne kept showing up for his shift, day after day, even as the city streets went quiet. Jennifer Gonnerman wrote about Terence Layne in the August 31, 2020, issue of the magazine.
28 minutes | a month ago
The Future of Trumpism
Nicholas Lemann’s “The Republican Identity Crisis After Trump” explores what will happen to the movement Donald Trump created among Republicans. In his 2016 campaign, he ran as a populist insurgent against Wall Street, “élites,” and the Republican Party itself—mobilizing voters against their traditional leadership. But, in office, he has governed largely according to the Party’s priorities. If Trump loses next month’s election, what will become of the movement he created? Lemann spoke with David Remnick about three possible scenarios for Republicans. Plus, the New Yorker music critic Carrie Battan describes how the sound of Korean pop is becoming part of the American mainstream.
19 minutes | a month ago
Elvis Costello Talks with David Remnick
Elvis Costello’s thirty-first studio album, “Hey Clockface,” will be released this month. Recorded largely before the pandemic, it features an unusual combination of winds, cello, piano, and drums. David Remnick talks with Costello about the influence of his father’s career in jazz and about what it’s like to look back on his own early years. They also discuss “Fifty Songs for Fifty Days,” a new project leading up to the Presidential election—though Costello disputes that the songs are political. “I don’t have a manifesto and I don’t have a slogan,” he says. “I try to avoid the simplistic slogan nature of songs. I try to look for the angle that somebody else isn’t covering.” But he notes that “the things that we are so rightly enraged about, [that] we see as unjust . . . it’s all happened before. . . . I didn’t think I’d be talking with my thirteen-year-old son about a lynching. Those are the things I was hearing reported on the news at their age.” Costello spoke from outside his home in Vancouver, B.C., where a foghorn is audible in the background.
35 minutes | a month ago
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren on the State of Our Democracy
At the 2020 New Yorker Festival, earlier this month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren joined Andrew Marantz to talk about the Presidential race, and how Joe Biden should lead if he wins the election. Plus, Dexter Filkins on the fierce electoral battle taking place in Florida, the largest of the swing states. With a large elderly-voter population and many distinct Latino communities, the state is demographically unique. Filkins spoke with the former sSenator Bill Nelson and others, including The New Yorker’s Stephania Taladrid, who has been reporting on the Latino vote in different states.
26 minutes | a month ago
The Battle Over Portland
During the Presidential debate in September, Donald Trump was asked to denounce the white supremacists who were battling anti-racism protesters in Portland; instead, he blamed leftists for the violence and told the Proud Boys to “stand by.” The Pacific Northwest has a long history of white-supremacist violence, going back to the days of the Oregon Territory. Today, white nationalists have chosen to make liberal Portland a battleground. As clashes between anti-racism protesters and extremists intensify, one man remembers the basic injustices that brought him to the streets in the first place.
27 minutes | 2 months ago
Anthony Fauci Then and Now, and the Writer-Director Radha Blank
At the moment that Donald Trump was leaving Walter Reed Hospital, not yet recovered from a case of COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down with Michael Specter to discuss the coronavirus and its impact on America. For the President—and all of us counting on a vaccine to miraculously deliver us back to normalcy—Fauci offers a reality check. “Let’s say we have a vaccine and it’s seventy per cent effective. But only sixty per cent of the people [are likely to] get vaccinated. The vaccine will greatly help us, but it’s not going to eliminate mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, and things like that.” Plus, Vinson Cunningham talks with Radha Blank about her loosely autobiographical new film, which won her best director at Sundance.
21 minutes | 2 months ago
Marilynne Robinson on Faith, Love, and Politics
Marilynne Robinson’s new novel, “Jack,” is the fourth to be set among the world and people of a fictional town called Gilead, Iowa. The novelist grew up in Idaho, and, when she moved to the flatter country of Iowa, she “noticed that the landscape had a very high number of little colleges scattered over it,” she tells David Remnick, that were sometimes the oldest buildings in a town. “I wanted to know who had built these things, that this was how you would settle an empty landscape. And that was when I came across the abolitionist movement. Those were the people who did this.” From that history and culture, Robinson imagined Gilead and the old preacher named John Ames who narrates the first book in her series. “Jack” concerns the son of Ames’s closest friend, who was disgraced and left Gilead. The book finds Jack, who is white, in St. Louis and in a predicament: he is in love with a Black woman, at a time when an interracial relationship was a scandal and, in some places, a crime. Plus, the début novelist Douglas Stuart. After two decades of working in the fashion industry and dreaming about writing, Stuart recently published an acclaimed first novel, “Shuggie Bain.” He showed us around his old stomping grounds in New York’s garment district.
32 minutes | 2 months ago
The Election, as Seen from Swing States
Joe Biden leads the Presidential race in Pennsylvania by around ten per cent, according to most polls, but Eliza Griswold says you wouldn’t know it on the ground. Republicans in the state have organized a huge registration drive in recent years, and, while Griswold was driving to Biden’s working-class birthplace of Scranton, she saw Trump signs blanketing the lawns and roads. Peter Slevin, reporting from Wisconsin, tells David Remnick that Democrats there organized early, to avoid the mistake that Hillary Clinton made in 2016 of taking the state for granted. Even so, Biden’s campaign has declined to do risky in-person events, but the Trump campaign, until recently, has proceeded as if coronavirus had never happened. Plus, Andrew Marantz talks with a Tennessee pastor who’s struggling with the intersection of politics and faith.
24 minutes | 2 months ago
Keith Knight of “Woke,” and Jia Tolentino Picks Three
“Woke,” a new comedy on Hulu, is inspired by the life of its creator, Keith Knight. The show, which blends reality and animated fantasy, follows Keef, a Black cartoonist who is on the cusp of mainstream success when an ugly incident with the police changes his life. Suddenly, Keef is learning about racism from a chatty trash can and other talking cartoon objects, and he experiences a belated political awakening. Knight describes his work to his fellow-cartoonist Emily Flake as “accessible yet subversive.” “Making people laugh and then punching them in the face with a serious issue is the way to work,” he says. Plus, at home with a newborn, the staff writer Jia Tolentino recommends a book, a record, and a reality show that have been entertaining her lately.
29 minutes | 2 months ago
Can a Newcomer Unseat Lindsey Graham? Plus, Carlos Lozada on “What Were We Thinking”
Jaime Harrison may seem like a long shot to become a South Carolina senator: he is a Black Democrat who grew up on food stamps in public housing, and he has never held elected public office. But a Quinnipiac poll ties him with Lindsay Graham—each has the support of forty-eight per cent of likely voters. Harrison is not exactly a progressive upstart candidate: he’s spent much of his career as a lobbyist, and has worked in the office of House Majority Whip James Clyburn. “I’ve seen the power of how good public servants can really address the issues of what people deal with,” Harrison tells David Remnick. “The worst thing you can do as a public servant is to betray the trust of the people that you represent.” For Harrison, Graham’s decision to support a fast-track nomination to the Supreme Court proves that “his word is worthless.” Plus, Carlos Lozada, a Washington Post books editor, immersed himself in a new genre: books that purport to explain Donald Trump and his era.
32 minutes | 2 months ago
Miranda July’s Uncomfortable Comedies, and a Toast to Roger Angell
Miranda July’s third feature film is “Kajillionaire,” a heist movie centered on a dysfunctional family, and her first with a Hollywood star like Evan Rachel Wood. Like most of her work, it can be classified as a comedy, but just barely. “There’s some kind of icky, heartbreaking, subterranean feelings about family that I would not willingly have gone towards if it weren’t for the silly heist stuff,” July tells Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker’s fiction editor. July acknowledges that billing her work as comedy allows her the budget to do things that straight drama might not get: “I knew I wanted to make a bigger movie. It changes the medium, it changes the kinds of things you can think up.” Tresiman, who has edited July’s short stories and other writings for the magazine, talks with her about the thread of discomfort and embarrassment that runs through her work in every medium. Plus, David Remnick toasts the centennial of Roger Angell, who has contributed to The New Yorker since the Second World War with writings on baseball and every other topic under the sun.
20 minutes | 2 months ago
An Election in Peril
This Presidential race is a battle for the soul and the future of the country—on this much, both parties agree—and yet the pitfalls in the election process itself are vast. David Remnick runs through some of the risks to your vote with a group of staff writers: Sue Halpern on the possibility of hacking by malign actors; Steve Coll on the contention around mail-in voting and the false suspicions being raised by the President; Jeffrey Toobin on the prospect of an avalanche of legal challenges that could delay the outcome and create a cascade of uncertainty; and Jelani Cobb on the danger of violence in the election’s aftermath.
17 minutes | 2 months ago
The Composer Richard Wagner and the Birth of the Movies
The German composer Richard Wagner had an enormous influence not only on modern music but on artists of all stripes, and on political culture as well. His use of folkloric material to create modern epics won him the admiration of thinkers like W. E. B. Du Bois, and made him popular in Hollywood since the birth of film. Alex Ross, whose new book is called “Wagnerism,” tells David Remnick that Du Bois “might have seen ‘Black Panther’ as a kind of Wagnerian project.” And yet Wagner’s music was used to heroically represent the Ku Klux Klan in “The Birth of a Nation.” In fact, the composer’s strident anti-Semitism fed into the rise of Nazism in Germany. The many aspects of Wagner’s influence were often contradictory. “So much baggage arrives with him,” Ross says, but “we aren’t necessarily imprisoned by what the man himself thought.” The composer himself “starts to disappear” as his influence diffuses through society. “He becomes a mirror for what other people are thinking and feeling. And we have that right, we have that power with art. If there’s something about it we reject, we can—without forgetting or overlooking that darker aspect—remake it in our own image.”
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