New Books in Literature

Marshall Poe

Interviews with Writers about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

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Great Britain’s Regency Era (1811–1820) has long been wildly popular as a subject of historical fiction yet overly focused on the romance genre. The towering figures of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer have tended to dominate the field to the point where even novels that are not primarily romances exist within Austen’s world. But as we can see from Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford & Sloane mystery series, far more was going on during the Regency than parties and marriage politics. Penrose’s London is a gritty place filled with canny urchins, men and women of science, engineers and international businessmen, gamblers and disgraced lords and satirists who make their living off the foibles and follies of the well-to-do. One such satirist is Charlotte Sloane—a young artist who writes under the pen name A.J. Quill. Her network of contacts—including the two urchins who live with her, known as Raven and Hawk—proves invaluable in untangling a series of murders, the first of which Bow Street is all too eager to blame on the Earl of Wrexford. She and Wrexford become reluctant partners, then friends, and by the time we reach book 5, Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens, they are planning their wedding. Wrexford is an acclaimed amateur chemist, an interest that brings him into contact with most of London’s scientific elite and accounts for his and Charlotte’s attendance at a symposium being held the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The death of a prominent botanist, visiting from the United States (then at war with Britain), is first written off as the result of a weak heart. But certain clues point to murder, and Wrexford and Sloane’s friends and family urge them to investigate. They soon realize this crime may have international implications, and the hunt for the killer is on. As with the Lady Sherlock mysteries, it’s best to read this series from beginning to end, as each book develops Charlotte’s and Wrexford’s relationship, revealing new insights into their past. The characters are fascinating, the plots fast-paced and complex, and the settings richly described. If you’ve been avoiding novels set in the Regency because you associate the era with pale and predictable romances, this series will open your eyes. Andrea Penrose is the bestselling author of Regency-era historical fiction, including the acclaimed Wrexford & Sloane mystery series. C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her next book, Song of the Sinner, will appear in January 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 29

36 min 29 sec

The next world war is 13 years away—that is, if you live in the world envisioned by Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin, 2021). When writing about the intersection of combat and diplomacy, the co-authors draw from experience. Ackerman has worked in the White House and served five tours of duty as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral, served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and, after leaving the Navy, as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 2034 plays out a what-if scenario, starting with an incident between the Chinese and U.S. that escalates into a major conflict. “You could certainly say right now, vis-a-vis the United States’ relationship with China, that if we’re not in a Cold War, we are at least in sort of the foothills of a Cold War,” Ackerman says. Told through the eyes of multiple main characters from five nations, the escalating conflict begins to seem inevitable as deceit, posturing, and a game of chicken made it harder and harder for the countries’ leaders to back down. Ackerman feels that a conflict between the U.S. and China in real life is possible but not inevitable. “It's a cautionary tale. There's still time to take the exit ramp,” he says. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 26

32 min 5 sec

Today I talked to Sara B. Fraser about her new novel Just River (Black Rose Writing, 2021). The Otis River flows through the once bustling city of Wattsville, a few hours north of NYC, reminding the remaining residents of better days. Cross-dressing Sam is okay with his new, minimum-wage job, as long as he gets to sing Karaoke twice a month. His neighbor and best friend, Carol, is a cashier who spreads love through her baking. Garnet, Carol’s daughter, is in prison after nearly killing her violent boyfriend, who visits her in prison. A couple of inmates learn that he’s rich and threaten Garnet with violence unless he sneaks in drugs for them. Carol and Sam try to help Garnet, but then an innocent boy is kidnapped and a dog is poisoned. The river is the only thing that can save them all. Sara B. Fraser is the author of the novels Long Division and Just River. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Carve, Jabberwock Review, the Forge, Wilderness House Literary Review, Salamander, Traveler’s Tales, and more. Fraser completed her BFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College and two master’s degrees, the first in Composition from the University of Massachusetts and the second in Education from Boston College. She is a high-school Spanish teacher, married to an Irishman, and mother of two boys. Her passions are surfing—she has trouble finding people willing to accompany her as she’ll drop everything even in the dead of winter if there’s swell (don’t tell her boss)—and fermenting things in her kitchen. She cultivates funny smelling stuff like kimchi, sauerkraut, vinegar, kombucha, and sourdough bread starter. Some people think scoby (a product of fermentation) is weird looking, but she loves it. She spends summers in Galicia and plans on retiring there. A random fact that may or may not indicate something about who she is: as a teenager she used to darn her socks. G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 23

21 min 41 sec

Daniel Alexander Jones' Love Like Light: Plays and Performance Texts (53rd State Press, 2021) collects seven plays and performance texts from the past twenty-five years. Together, they provide a panoramic view of a remarkable playwright, songwriter, improviser, and performer. In our conversation we discuss Jones' early exposure to theatre as a high school student in Springfield, MA, his discovery of Ntozake Shange's work, his emergence in the Radical Alternative Theater scenes in Austin and the Twin Cities, and his more recent work at New York venues including Soho Rep and Joe's Pub. Love Like Light should be of interest to anyone interested in queer performance, Afromysticism, and abstract structures of performance writing. Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 23

1 hr 1 min

An interview with Pola Oloixarac, Mona (2021). Pola and I get to talking about the failure of the US university to live up to its massive influence, especially when it comes to making the lives of black and brown people better. We discuss whether writers are terrible people, or are they simply unfit for any other vocation? Pola introduces me to "me-search," the self-centered prancing of authors at literary conferences. And she helps me to see the folly of imagining writing as a solitary affair, instead imagining the work of the writer as a constant convening of friends. Books Recommended in this episode: Pola Oloixarac, Mona Pola Recommends: Maria Gainza, Portrait of an Unknown Lady Aldolfo Caseres, Borges (2023 in English) Rafael Chirbes, Cremation trans. valerie miles Edgardo Cozarinsky,Milongas trans. valerie miles Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 22

50 min 57 sec

Carin Clevidence speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Carin talks about how her experiences traveling to Antarctica on expeditions have changed over the years, and how that change comes through in her writing. She also discusses her 2011 novel The House on Salt Hay Road, and the novel she’s recently completed about an expedition to Antarctica. Carin Clevidence grew up in a family of naturalists and travelers. She is the author of a novel, The House on Salt Hay Road (FSG), as well as essays and short stories appearing in Guernica, the Washington Post, Off-Assignment, O Magazine, OZY, Panorama, and elsewhere, and forthcoming in the anthology Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us. She has worked as a deckhand in Baja, Mexico and an assistant expedition leader in Antarctica, and received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, and Sustainable Arts, and residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, Art Omi, Marble House Project, and Hawthornden Castle, among others. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is currently at work on a novel about art, perfectionism, and revenge. Read her essay in The Common at thecommononline.org/ghosts-of-the-southern-ocean. The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 19

29 min 57 sec

On her own since the age of eighteen, Cass Macklin dated brilliant, troubled Ben McGreavy, convinced he was the smartest person she'd ever known. They partied their way through their twenties, slowly descending into a bleak world of binge-drinking and broken promises, inebriated for most of a decade. Now Ben is dead, and Cass is broke, homeless, scared...and pregnant. Determined to have a healthy pregnancy and raise Ben's baby, Cass has to find a way to stop drinking and build a stable life for herself and her child. But with no money, skills, or sober friends or family, the task seems insurmountable. At wit's end, Cass turns to the only person with the means to help her: Ben's brother Scott, third basemen for the Boston Red Sox, a man with a temper and problems of his own. The two make a deal that neither one of them is sure they can live up to. As Cass struggles to take control of her life and to ask for help when she needs it, Scott begins to realize there's a life for him beyond the baseball diamond. By turns heartbreaking and humorous, with its message that change is possible, that forgiveness can be freely given, and that life, though imperfect, is worth embracing, Juliette Fay's Catch Us When We Fall: A Novel (William Morrow, 2021) is a story of human connectedness and hope. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 18

16 min 54 sec

Today I interview Lisa Marchiano. Marchiano is a mother of two children. She’s also a Jungian analyst and a host of the podcast called This Jungian Life. She brings these experiences together in her new book Motherhood: Facing and Finding Yourself (Sounds True, 2021). It’s a fascinating and deeply insightful book that draws on the universal wisdom of fairy tales and myths to illuminate how motherhood offers mothers a rich opportunity for psychological exploration and growth. And the wonderful thing about Marchiano’s approach is that she fully recognizes that this opportunity comes amid all sorts of struggles, from spilled juice to adolescent outbursts to the complicated and sometimes ugly feelings that mothers experience. Her book recognizes and names these difficulties and shows how they might, in the end, lead to unexpected riches. Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. He is the author of five books, most recently Remember Me. He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 17

49 min 50 sec

It’s December 1667 and London is still recovering both from the Plague and the Great Fire. Lucy Campion visits retired judge Master Hargrave and discovers that he’s been attacked and robbed in his home. She once worked as a maid for the judge, but she learned how to read and now works as a sort of printer’s apprentice. It turns out that a stash of the judge’s papers has been stolen. Then, while Lucy is working, trying to interest buyers in the books she has helped print, a rival storyteller poaches the crowd she has convened, and it becomes clear that his tales are directly connected to the judge’s stolen papers. When she hears someone being murdered, and that too is connected to the judge’s papers, Lucy is determined to figure out who is trying to destroy his name. In The Cry of the Hangman (Severn House, 2021), the historian Susanna Calkins also manages to convey 17th century British views about order and justice, crime and punishment, legal and illegal marriages, the possibility of moving out of the social order to which one is born, and enthusiasm for the accessibility of printed materials. Susanna Calkins writes the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries set in 17th century London and the Speakeasy Murders set in 1920s Chicago. Her books have been nominated for the Anthony, Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, the Lefty awards, and her third mystery received the Macavity. Holding a doctorate in history, she is currently an educator at Northwestern University. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing or working--or maybe when she is--she enjoys interesting wines, beers and cocktails. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 16

25 min 54 sec

Jordan Salama’s Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena (Catapult Press, 2021) is a travelogue for a new generation about a journey along Colombia’s Magdalena River, exploring life by the banks of a majestic river now at risk, and how a country recovers from conflict. An American writer of Argentine, Syrian, and Iraqi Jewish descent, Jordan Salama tells the story of the Río Magdalena, nearly one thousand miles long, the heart of Colombia. This is Gabriel García Márquez’s territory—rumor has it Macondo was partly inspired by the port town of Mompox—as much as that of the Middle Eastern immigrants who run fabric stores by its banks. Following the river from its source high in the Andes to its mouth on the Caribbean coast, journeying by boat, bus, and improvised motobalinera, Salama writes against stereotype and toward the rich lives of those he meets. Among them are a canoe builder, biologists who study invasive hippopotamuses, a Queens transplant managing a failing hotel, a jeweler practicing the art of silver filigree, and a traveling librarian whose donkeys, Alfa and Beto, haul books to rural children. Joy, mourning, and humor come together in this astonishing debut, about a country too often seen as only a site of war, and a tale of lively adventure following a legendary river. Kathryn B. Carpenter is a doctoral candidate in the history of science at Princeton University. She is currently researching the history of tornado science and storm chasing in the twentieth-century United States. You can reach her on twitter, @katebcarp. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 12

36 min 5 sec

Shmulie Shimmer is the inventor of LERBS, the most popular designer drug ever to be created. Turns out that it leaves people brain dead, and Shmulie should be in prison, but his business partner took the rap. Now Shmulie’s father hasn’t heard from him in over a year and half. He approaches Shmulie’s high school friend, Professor Nick Friedman, aka Nick Bones, private detective. Nick’s beautiful daughter was a victim of Lerbs, and Nick never wants to see the guy again, but Shmulie’s father has cancer and only a few months to live, so NIck takes the case. It’s a future in which the world no longer works the way it did, and sharp-witted, colorful characters roam above and below ground in what is an unrecognizable New York City. Now, Nick needs the help of his AI computer to make his way in the Velvet Underground, previously known as part of the subway system. Phil M. Cohen's Nick Bones Underground (Koehler Books, 2019) is a mystery, a wild ride through the future, a science-fiction nightmare, and an exploration of religion and humanity. Phil M. Cohen is a rabbi who has been engaged in Jewish storytelling for a very long time. In addition to a B.A from Dickinson College and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Phil holds a Ph.D. in Jewish thought from Brandeis University and an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville. From his rabbinic education, he learned how to create and interpret stories. From his doctoral experience, he learned how to grapple with philosophical questions. In earning an MFA, he learned how to write fiction. From his work as a rabbi, he gained deep insight into the Jewish and broader world. And from realms unknown and a bit scary, Rabbi Doctor Cohen discovered his creative imagination. G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 11

24 min 53 sec

Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women (Tin House Books, 2021) is a beautifully written meditation on connecting with the outdoors through the simple act of walking. In captivating and elegant prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of women who boldly reclaimed wild landscapes for themselves, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier along the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir―who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a dress and espadrilles―through the mountains and forests of France. Part historical inquiry and part memoir, the stories of these writers and artists are laced together by moments in Abb’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Abbs explores a forgotten legacy of moving on foot and discovers how it has helped women throughout history to find their voices, to reimagine their lives, and to break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from her past and into a radically different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in a provocative and poignant account of the power of walking in nature. Thalia Laughlin is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne, researching Louise Hanson-Dyer’s (1884-1962) patronage and artistic support of women in the first half of the twentieth century. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 11

46 min 1 sec

Water, Wood, and Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town  (Viking, 2021) is memoir, ethnography, cookbook, and sketchbook rolled into one." This is the Princeton Independence's description of the polyvocal and artistic text, written by Hannah Kirshner. I cannot agree more with the following review they made on the creative quality of the book: "It evokes the best of the nature writing of Rachel Carson and Wendell Berry, as well as the food writing of M.F.K. Fisher and craft writing of Edmund de Waal." It is certainly a great book to read if you are traveling to Japan or to buy as a gift if you know someone who might be interested in Japanese culture but does not where to start.  An immersive journey through the culture and cuisine of one Japanese town, its forest, and its watershed–where ducks are hunted by net, saké is brewed from the purest mountain water, and charcoal is fired in stone kilns–by an American writer and food stylist who spent years working alongside artisans One night, Brooklyn-based artist and food writer Hannah Kirshner received a life-changing invitation to apprentice with a “saké evangelist” in a misty Japanese mountain village called Yamanaka. In a rapidly modernizing Japan, the region–a stronghold of the country’s old-fashioned ways–was quickly becoming a destination for chefs and artisans looking to learn about the traditions that have long shaped Japanese culture. Kirshner put on a vest and tie and took her place behind the saké bar. Before long, she met a community of craftspeople, farmers, and foragers–master woodturners, hunters, a paper artist, and a man making charcoal in his nearly abandoned village on the outskirts of town. Kirshner found each craftsperson not only exhibited an extraordinary dedication to their work but their distinct expertise contributed to the fabric of the local culture. Inspired by these masters, she devoted herself to learning how they work and live. Taking readers deep into evergreen forests, terraced rice fields, and smoke-filled workshops, Kirshner captures the centuries-old traditions still alive in Yamanaka. Water, Wood, and Wild Things invites readers to see what goes into making a fine bowl, a cup of tea, or a harvest of rice and introduces the masters who dedicate their lives to this work. Part travelogue, part meditation on the meaning of work, and full of her own beautiful drawings and recipes, Kirshner’s refreshing book is an ode to a place and its people, as well as a profound examination of what it means to sustain traditions and find purpose in cultivation and craft. During the interview, we talked about Hannah's process of creative writing and its symbiotic relation with accompanying illustrations. Our discussions quickly led to a series of episodes, which described her cross-cultural and cross-linguistic interactions with others (including humans, animals, plants, art crafts, and natural surroundings) in the wonderful mountain town, Yamanaka, in Ishikawa Prefecture. This book is not only a great invitation to the magical experience of living in rural Japan and becoming a part of satoyama, but also an indispensable contribution to our ongoing discussions on the larger problems of "sustainability," "decline of rural economy and tradition," "ecology," and the negative aspect of "urbanisation" or of "ageing rural society" in Japan among others.  Takeshi Morisato is philosopher and sometimes academic. He is the editor of the European Journal of Japanese Philosophy. He specializes in comparative and Japanese philosophy but he is also interested in making Japan and philosophy accessible to a wider audience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 8

1 hr 20 min

Destroyer of Light (Tor Books, 2021) is Jennifer Marie Brissett’s long-awaited follow up to her critically acclaimed debut Elysium, winner of a Philip K. Dick Special Citation and a finalist for the Locus and the Tiptree awards. Her new novel takes readers far into the future where humans are settling a new planet. They are the survivors of the world described in Elysium—an Earth where four-dimensional aliens known as the Krestge have destroyed human civilization. The frame of Destroyer of Light is a mystery—a search for a missing boy. But a deeper story follows the relationship of a mother and her young daughter, who is kidnapped and abused by a warlord building an army of child soldiers. The book is also about the relationship between humans and their former antagonists, the Krestge. Some of the aliens’ descendants now live peacefully among humans. While some people are willing to forgive the crimes of the past, going so far as to start families with the Krestge, others see their aliens’ crimes as unforgivable. “There's a lot of difficulty in answering questions as to what kind of people the Krestge are because to get to know one is not to get to know all. The first alien you meet in the beginning, the stepfather of the missing [human] boy, is really worried about his son and wants to do everything he can to try and find him,” Brissett says. “And yet I think the distrust that humanity has for the Krestge is not unfounded, and it's not without its history and not without its reason. The feeling of not being told the entire truth, of not owning up to past sins, to just sort of pretending that it all just went away because you've decided to not be that anymore, doesn't really happen.” Jennifer Marie Brissett is British-Jamaican American, born in London and raised in Cambridge, Mass. owned an independent bookstore called Indigo Café & Books. She obtained her master's in creative writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program and a bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Boston University. Rob Wolf is a writer and host of New Books in Science Fiction. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 4

1 hr 1 min

Lydia Warren has a particular kind of amnesia. She vaguely recalls arriving in Santorini with a one-armed man whom she calls David Copperfield, who takes care of her. Lydia spends her days watching the sea and the changing light, trying to remember who she is. She takes walks, befriends a kindly old antiques dealer who might have been a Nazi and a French woman who helps people remember their past lives. Bits and pieces of what might or might not have been past lives appear in brief visions. A lamp she buys from the antiques dealer reminds her of an New York apartment she once lived in, but it’s the 1960’s, well before she was born. Then she’s visited by someone from The Hague investigating war crimes, and she learns that she has an uncle who lives like a hermit behind a monastery, also somewhere in Greece. This is a story about memory, the mysterious workings of the brain, and the human capacity for forgiveness. Jessica Sticklor earned a BA from the New School and an MFA in Creative Writing from the City University of New York. Before The Weary God of Ancient Travelers, she wrote The Beekeeper’s Daughter (Bedazzled Ink Press), Betwixt and Between (IG Publishing), Nod, and the young adult Pan Chronicles Series (D.X. Varos). Her short stories have appeared in The Warwick Review, The Hawaii Pacific Review and Wasifiri, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Writer Magazine, Ms. Magazine, and Tor.com. She has worked as an editor at THe Global City Press and the The Global City Review and has taught creative writing at both high school and university level. She has published young adult fantasy under the name J.M. Stephen, lives in southern Vermont, and writes for the very local newspaper, the Deerfield Valley News. Jessica grew up in the Chicagoland area. She has lived in New York City and Southwestern Vermont. She loves skiing, hiking, Virginia Woolf and anything Icelandic. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 2

22 min 31 sec

Since Arthur Conan Doyle first created Sherlock Holmes, the great detective has gone through many permutations and been the subject of much study. As Sherry Thomas admits in this latest New Books Network interview, finding a new element to explore is not easy. But she has managed to discover one—perhaps an angle that is particularly fitting in this age of gender fluidity, although the Lady Sherlock series draws much of its punch from and plays off the stereotypes of the past, in this case Victorian England. In Thomas’s reimagining of the great detective, Sherlock Holmes is not only a fictional character but a front for the real detective, the disgraced younger daughter of a poverty-stricken baronet. Charlotte Holmes has an incisive intellect, an unflappable temperament, little respect for convention, and a love of books—traits that undermine her intended purpose in life as defined by her parents: to marry a wealthy, titled man. Charlotte cuts a deal with her father: if she’s still unmarried at twenty-five, he will fund her education so that she can earn her living as the headmistress of a girls’ school. But when Dad reneges on the deal, Charlotte takes matters into her own hands, with disastrous (from her parents’ perspective) but delightful (from her own) results. This is the setup in the first book of the Lady Sherlock series, aptly titled A Study in Scarlet Women. By the time this sixth book rolls around, Charlotte has made a name for her alter ego and had several run-ins with the infamous Professor Moriarty and his underlings. In Miss Moriarty, I Presume? (Berkley Books, 2021) the tables are turned, and the professor seeks out Charlotte for assistance in finding his missing daughter. Unless, of course, the mission is simply a trap aimed at getting the meddlesome Charlotte out of the professor’s life permanently. It’s best to read this engrossing series from beginning to end, as each book builds on those that came before. But watching Sherry Thomas turning the Holmes canon on its head is tremendous fun, and if you tear through the novels as I did, it won’t take long to reach Miss Moriarty, I Presume? Sherry Thomas is the author of historical romances, YA fantasy, and the Lady Sherlock series, which begins with A Study in Scarlet Women. Find out more about her at https://sherrythomas.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 1

38 min 49 sec

The Seventh Queen (HarperCollins, 2021) is the second book in the Warrior Witch Duology, so the following review and questions for author Greta Kelly assume you’ve read the first one. If not, go get yourself a copy before listening to the podcast, so you don’t encounter any spoilers. The Frozen Crown ends with a cliffhanger. Princess Askia had travelled to Vishir in the hopes of convincing Emperor Armaan of Vishir to help her liberate her own kingdom of Seravesh. Seravesh, like many other countries, fell to the Roven Empire, ruled by Radovan. Radovan magnanimously offered to marry Askia himself and restore peace to her country. The biggest problem with his offer was that none of his wives survived more than six months. And then, of course, he dealt with dissent by ordering his fire witch to burn down entire towns along with the inhabitants. By the end of The Frozen Crown, Askia has a promising protector for her besieged country in the person of her husband-to-be, the polygamous but noble and charismatic Emperor Armaan of Vishir. The wedding and consummation of their union is disrupted when Radovan, a powerful witch, kills Armaan and his chief wife and kidnaps Askia. In The Seventh Queen we learn the secret to Radovan’s power. He steals the magic from his wives through the means of a magic stone, and he only needs Askia, a rare death witch, to complete his mastery over all forms of magic. Askia learns she has about a month before the stone fastened around her neck drains her completely of her power. In the meantime, the stone prevents her from using her magic , and lets Radovan to control her. Bereft of her magic and without her guards or sympathetic allies at court, Askia has to rely on her wits to exploit Radovan’s weaknesses, and make a plan to best him—no matter what it costs her personally. You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Nov 1

26 min 6 sec

Julian Zabalbeascoa speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Igerilara,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation from San Sebastián, Julian talks about writing stories set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the Basque Conflict. He also discusses his love of travel and his experiences running study abroad programs for college students, and what it’s like to teach The Common in his classes at UMass Lowell. Julian Zabalbeascoa’s stories have been published or will appear in American Short Fiction, Copper Nickel, Electric Literature’s The Commuter, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Ploughshares Solos, Shenandoah, and other publications. He is a visiting professor in the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and lives in Boston. Read his story in The Common at thecommononline.org/igerilaria. Read more about Julian and his work at julianzabalbeascoa.com. The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 30

58 min 43 sec

Today I talked to Clare Pooley about her novel The Authenticity Project (Penguin, 2020). In this chatty, very British story, a few personal lines written in a “pale-green exercise book like the one Monica had carried around with her at school,” inadvertently trigger enormous personal change in a group of strangers. Monica owns the café where Julian, an aging, lonely artist, has left a few words about himself in the exercise book. Julian hopes that whoever finds it might want to share their own truth and pass it along, and surprisingly, some do. Monica writes in it and leaves it for the next person, Hazard, a coke-snorting, financially high-flying jackass. Hazard takes it to Thailand and gives it to Riley, a cute young Australian gardener. And so on, but everyone ends up back Monica’s café, grappling with the challenges of finding love, or raising a baby, or getting sober. The Authenticity Project will bring you up to date on popular culture back in 2018, when slapdash gatherings, art classes in cafes, raising a glass with friends, and jumping on a plane to Thailand were all part of everyday life. Though not literary, this is a cute, charming story, and don’t be surprised if it turns into an even cuter movie. Clare Pooley was a backup singer with ABBA when she was eleven, and later studied economics at Cambridge University, where she constantly raided the bookshelves of the English students. For years, she was passionate about drinking wine, which led to a chronic alcohol addiction. She quit drinking and started an anonymous blog called Mummy was a Secret Drinker. The blog went viral and became a memoir, The Sober Diaries, which sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. She also gave a TEDX talk on the shame associated with alcohol addiction that has been viewed over 200,000 times. Before becoming a full-time writer, Pooley spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising. She lives in Fulham, London with her husband, three children, and two border terriers. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 26

27 min 39 sec

“My poetry captures a moment,” remarked Dr. Castillo when asked about the process of writing her most recent collection of poems My Book of the Dead: New Poems (University of New Mexico Press, 2021). While many of us would be immobile at the news about the effects of climate disaster, school shootings, and anti-black racism which often resulted in extralegal violence, Ana Castillo reached for pen and paper. She processed these events through writing carefully, intentionally, and vividly about the world which gave rise to these catastrophes. She forces us to feel that moment with her – confusion, anger, grief. My Book of the Dead is the result of Ana’s mourning turned artistic bodily expression. Each poem offers a snapshot in response to personal and national tragedies. Ana mourns loss at all levels – from the passing of artist friends she danced with to the national news of slain schoolchildren. “You hear of his death by the virus and // it all comes back – // meeting in Chicago, // celebrating his first novel, // dancing to a sweat together in New Orleans,” Ana writes in “Hache ¡Presente!” (8). Eight pages later she launches into an exhaustive yet incomplete list of mass shootings in the United States between 2016 and 2019. “+ Plus más – // domestic violence // deaths // at the hands // of someone that loved you, // loved your baby, // mother, // the neighbor upstairs who came running,” Dr. Castillo writes in “Mass Shooting (2016 to 2019 and Counting” (16-23). Sixty-three incidents of mass shootings span eight pages, each indicating the number of deaths in bold. These two poems sit alongside poems about anti-Black racism, police violence, and the threat to Democracy posed by the Trump administration. Dr. Castillo’s My Book of the Dead also carries with it a sense of urgency about the future of the United States. By connecting the relationship between domestic terrorism (i.e., mass shootings and anti-Black racism) and the imperial violence inflicted across the world by the U.S. through bombs and other warfare, Ana takes to task the history and the present U.S. In “Xicanisma Prophecies Post 2012: Putin’s Puppet,” Ana writes, “Putin’s Puppet sees color and it revolts him. // Blacks belong in Africa, he opines, and Muslims must stay in the Mid-East. // Mexicans are the scourge. // Like with his father, // his father before him, and so on. Darker races serve their purpose – // servitude or genocide. // As for women – // you kill a rhino for sport or for its horns. // (A woman is worthwhile only if she enhances your status.)” (80). In several poems such as “Gotas caían en el techo” (31), “A Storm Upon Us” (3), and How to Tell You Are Living under Rising Fascism (A Basic Primer in Progress)” (41), she indicts the Trump Administration for advancing white supremacy, their attacks on history, and their denial of science. Ana is insistent about calling out every aspect of exactly how the rights of people of color, the elderly, and women are continuously being restricted. She is particularly focused on the plight of mothers. Jonathan Cortez is currently the 2021-2023 César Chávez Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @joncortz Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 25

59 min 51 sec

Nariman Youssef speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her work translating three short stories from Arabic for The Common’s portfolio of fiction from Morocco, in the spring issue. In this conversation, Nariman talks about the conscious and unconscious decisions a translator makes through many drafts, including the choice to preserve some features of the language, sound, and cadence that may not sound very familiar to English readers. She also discusses her thoughts on how the translation world has changed over the years, and her exciting work as Arabic Translation Manager at the British Library. Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born, London-based semi-freelance literary translator. She holds a master’s degree in translation studies from the University of Edinburgh, manages a small translation team at the British Library, and curates translation workshops with Shadow Heroes. Her literary translations include Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter, Donia Kamal's Cigarette Number Seven, and contributions in Words Without Borders, Banipal, and the poetry anthologies Beirut39 and The Hundred Years' War. Read her translations in The Common at thecommononline.org/tag/nariman-youssef. Follow Nariman on Twitter at @nariology. The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 22

52 min 47 sec

By 1924, Sarah Cunningham has spent years in France establishing her own artistic style, more contemporary than the landscapes that have made her older sister, Ada Belle Davenport, famous. She has just attained her goal—a one-woman show in an exclusive Paris gallery—when Ada Belle dies unexpectedly. Sarah temporarily abandons her own career, traveling to Carmel-by-the-Sea to find out what happened. Sarah reaches California to discover that the local marshal has already closed the inquest into Ada Belle’s death, ruling it a suicide. The will that appoints Sarah as both beneficiary and executor has gone missing, as has a crucial series of portraits promised to a gallery in New York. Meanwhile, Sarah herself and many of Ada Belle’s friends question the suicide ruling, and as the details of Ada Belle’s final days resurface, the more striking the discrepancies become between the official verdict and the clues discovered by Sarah and her sister’s faithful Jack Russell terrier, Albert. In The Artist Colony (She Writes Press, 2021), Joanna FitzPatrick constructs a fast-paced mystery in which a combination of historical and fictional characters battle over uncomfortable truths against a background of brilliant sky- and seascapes, viewed with an artist’s eye. Joanna FitzPatrick is the author of Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow. C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 20

39 min 14 sec

A Passage North (Granta, 2021) is a novel set in contemporary post-war Sri Lanka. A young, privileged Tamil man takes a train journey from the capital Colombo to former war-torn Kilinochchi to attend the funeral of his grandmother's caretaker. But the journey of the title is equally the philosophical journeys he undertakes to the deepest recesses of his mind, to the past and future. An intense thread of longing runs through the novel: the nature of his people's longing that must have led to events that led to the devastating war, his longing for the non-existent Tamil homeland of his imagination, the caretaker's impossible longing for the impossible return of her sons dead in the war, his longing for his estranged romantic partner. Anuk Arudpragasam is from Colombo, Sri Lanka, and received a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 2019. A Passage North is his second novel and has been shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 20

43 min 50 sec

Today I talked to Meredith Hall about her new novel Beneficence (Godine, 2020). A beautiful family is torn apart by a shocking loss, and three of its members blame themselves. It’s the middle of the twentieth century, their farm in Maine needs tending, and the seasons move swiftly with specific chores and tasks. The cows need calving, the chickens need feeding, the laundry needs washing, the rugs need airing, the food needs preparing. But each member of the family is numb from their huge loss, and they go their separate ways, telling small bits of the story as their lives unfold. Their dreams and hopes change, and some decisions have harsh consequences, but slowly, through the changing seasons, they struggle to make their way back to the family they once loved. Meredith Hall taught in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire for many years. In her late fifties, she wrote an essay that won the Pushcart Prize, and on the basis of that encouragement, she was awarded the Gift of Freedom Award, which provided two years of dedicated writing. Her memoir Without a Map was named a best book of the year by Kirkus and BookSense and was both a NYT bestseller and an Elle magazine Reader’s Pick of the Year. She was a recipient of the 2004 Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation and her work has appeared in Five Points, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The New York Times, and many other publications. Hall writes while listening to Gregorian chant, and when she is not writing or reading, she is outdoors, finding beautiful wild places. She spends her time in Northern California and Maine, so beauty is available all around her, vital sustenance. She loves and needs the arts and spends each winter in the Bay Area gorging on performances of contemporary dance, modern and classical music, and drama. She wanders museums and galleries a lot. Her family and friends are at the center, always. G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 19

31 min 7 sec

Today I talked to anthropologist J. W. Traphagan's novel The Blood of Gutoku: A Jack Riddley Mystery in Japan (Balestier Press, 2021) Jack Riddley is an anthropologist all too ready to retire – he is done with university politics and is eager to start his new life in a sleepy village in northern Japan. What wasn’t involved in his retirement plan is for a murder to occur just as he arrives in town. With Jack’s passion for ethnography, he cannot help but get involved with the investigation, eager to discover not only who committed these crimes, but why. Even a village of retirees has its secrets – abandoned traditions, family rifts, and childhood traumas – all of which are perfect motives for murder. Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 15

47 min 24 sec

Ryka Aoki’s new novel, Light from Uncommon Stars (Tor Books, 2021), is packed with as much variety as a box of lovingly prepared assorted donuts from your favorite, funky-but-long-standing neighborhood donut shop. One of the book’s primary settings is, in fact, a donut shop, but unlike other Los Angeles donut shops it is run by a family of refugees from a faraway galaxy. The story revolves around three women—the matriarch of the outer space family, Lan Tran; Shizuka Satomi, a world famous violin teacher, who is also contractually obliged to deliver souls to hell; and her newest student, Katrina Nguyen, a trans runaway fleeing an abusive home who has no formal violin training but is a brilliant musician with natural talent. With a book focused on musicians, Aoki relied on narration to convey the power of Katrina’s performances. “When one is a poet and writing novels, sometimes … I feel at a horrible disadvantage. I still write at the speed of a poet. … But during certain moments, I'm really glad I'm a poet because I know darn well that I can convey music through words. … I can use imagery. I can use analogy, but mostly I can vary my sentence structures. I can play with clauses. I can concatenate my grammar. I can write sentences so that one sentence jams into the next. I layer sentence fragments occasionally to build a collage of meaning. And these are all things that are poet tricks.” The themes of Light from Uncommon Stars are as varied as its cast. The books is about talent and genius, creativity and love, and the sacrifices—or deals with the devil—that some people may make to achieve success. Ryka Aoki is a poet, composer, and teacher. Her mixed collection Seasonal Velocities and poetry collection Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul were both finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards. And is also the author of the novel Hey Mele Ah Hilo. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 14

40 min 6 sec

Migrations (LA Review of Books, 2021) is a collection of short stories by the Puerto Rican born writer and now retired university professor J. L. Torres. Each story condenses a bit of the experience of a cross section of Puerto Rico: the rich who treat it like a playground, the stereotypical macho men, the shanty town dwellers. The ramifications of the stories are deep and the varied tales range from climate change and the destruction of natural ecosystems by tourism, to the Puerto Ricans of the diaspora who struggle in dysfunctional families and who long to be part of the mainstream but have weathered the subtle racism of American society that has taken a toll on their inner lives. Torres’s stories bring alive Puerto Rico to us, its natural beauty but also try to show the colonial economy that the country is. Minni Sawhney is a professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Delhi. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 12

52 min 35 sec

Today I talked to Jennifer Estep about her new book Capture the Crown (HarperCollins, 2021). Princess Gemma Ripley is famous for her glittering outfits, in which she flounces through countless parties and balls. There’s another side to her, though. Her duties as a royal also include putting on a disguise and spying, in order to discover any trouble in her father’s Kingdom of Andvari. There’s almost sure to be trouble at any time, given their neighbors, the ruthless rulers of the Kingdom of Morta, who hate the Andvarians. Gemma finds out firsthand just how ruthless the Mortans are, when heir-apparent Leonidas kidnaps her after an injury and brings her back to the Mortan palace. Luckily Leonidas has no idea who she is-or does he? Complicating matters is that he’s a hunk with a heart—and seems to be attracted to Gemma. In meantime, Gemma is ideally placed to find out why Leonidas’ fiendish half-brother, Milo, is secretly assembling vast stocks of tearstone—that is, if she can survive without losing her heart—or her life. You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 11

18 min 26 sec

Back in the days when brick-and-mortar bookstores were common in suburban America, I was browsing the shelves at my local Borders when a title caught my eye: Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. I picked it up, opened it, and fell in love. It’s 1932, and Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a twenty-something who is “thirty-fourth in line to the British throne,” has fled her ancient but drafty ducal castle in Scotland for the family mansion in London. Alas, the Rannoch family—although rich in property—hasn’t a farthing to its illustrious name due to the unfortunate gambling habits of the first duke, Lady Georgie’s father. And as a member of the royal family, Georgie can’t just go out and get a job, because the only destiny approved by her lofty relatives is to marry the fish-faced Prince Siegfried, who doesn’t even like women. Nonetheless, with a little help from her friend Belinda and a handsome but enigmatic gentleman named Darcy O’Mara, Georgie manages not only to survive but to solve a murder. Since the day I finished that book, I have wanted to interview Rhys Bowen, the creator of Lady Georgiana and a number of other memorable detectives both amateur and professional. That time has come with Georgie’s fifteenth adventure (and second murder-filled Christmas), God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen (Berkley, 2021). After fourteen books, Georgie’s life and financial circumstances have substantially improved. Georgie and Darcy have married, and they plan to entertain their friends for Christmas at their new estate. As fate would have it, except for Georgie’s beloved grandfather, the only guests able to attend are her brother, the Duke of Rannoch, and his wife, known as Fig—the last person Georgie wants to spend time with. She’s just about resigned herself to Christmas with Fig when a letter arrives from Darcy’s eccentric Aunt Ermintrude, insisting that they all come at once to her home near Sandringham, close to the Royal Family. The Queen of England has requested Georgie’s presence, although she does not divulge why. Unable to say no to Her Royal Highness, Georgie, Darcy, and the Rannochs head off to Aunt Ermintrude’s house. At Sandringham, Georgie learns that Queen Mary believes someone intends harm toward her son, the Prince of Wales, now deeply involved with Wallis Simpson. She wants Georgie to find out what’s going on. Georgie’s merry little Christmas is set to become a royal nightmare if she can’t get to the bottom of this mystery. Bowen’s mysteries are complex and their solutions satisfying, but the real delight of these novels is the way they poke fun at the British class system, exemplified by Georgie’s own mixed heritage as the daughter of a duke and of an actress whose father, a retired Cockney policeman, acts as a constant reminder that being a member of the royal family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. They’re also, to put it simply, hilarious. If this is your first encounter with them, I promise you have a treat in store. Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, including two historical mystery series featuring Molly Murphy and Lady Georgiana Rannoch and four stand-alone novels. Her work has won over twenty honors to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. Find out more about her at https://rhysbowen.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 11

37 min 24 sec

Today I interview Sarah Minor, a brilliant and exciting author and artist. Minor has written a new book that looks into—in fact, I might even say sinks us or maybe slathers us in—slime. And if that sounds more disgusting than appealing, that's one of the many wonders of slime that Minor reveals: yes, slime grosses us out and yet its grossness somehow comes curiously close to desire. Slime features in immensely popular genres our culture loves and loathes, like horror movies and pornography. Slime has its own online communities. Slime even comes from outer space and lands on the earth as "gelatinous meteors." Slime, once you start looking for it, shows up in spaces where we experience birth and death, where bodies connect and boundaries dissolve. Minor's book is called Slim Confessions: The Universe as a Spider or Spit (Noemi Press, 2021), which is a title that slimes together unexpected things, and I start our conversation by asking her about it. Here’s my chat with the warm and wonderfully un-slimy Sarah Minor. Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. He is the author of five books, most recently Remember Me. He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 8

54 min

Ricardo Wilson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem, “nigrescence,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Ricardo talks about his new collection Apparent Horizon and Other Stories, winner of the PANK Book Contest in fiction. The collection includes several short poetic fragments scattered amongst stories and novellas, with both historic and contemporary storylines. He discusses his process for writing from historical research, and what it’s like writing creative and critical work at the same time. Ricardo also talks about Outpost, a fully-funded residency in Vermont for creative writers of color from the US and Latin America. Ricardo Wilson is an assistant professor of English at Williams College and the author of An Apparent Horizon and Other Stories and The Nigrescent Beyond: Mexico, the United States, and the Psychic Vanishing of Blackness. His fiction and critical writing can be found in 3:AM Magazine, Black Renaissance / Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, CR: The New Centennial Review, Crazyhorse, and Stirring. He is director of Outpost, a residency for creative writers of color from the United States and Latin America. Read his poem in The Common at thecommononline.org/nigrescence. Read more about Ricardo and his work at ricardoawilson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ricardoawilson. Purchase An Apparent Horizon and Other Stories from PANK Books. Find out more about Outpost, and apply by November 1, at outposttheresidency.org. The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Oct 8

39 min 37 sec

Today I talked to Beth Alvarado about her new novel Jillian in the Borderlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2020) We first meet Jillian Guzmán when she is nine. She’s mute, has a big imagination, and communicates through her drawings. She and her mother, Angie O’Malley live in the borderlands of Arizona and Mexico. Jillian can see ghosts – in the first story a dead child-bride saves her from the clutches of a predatory neighbor. These dark stories introduce faith healers, talking animals, and spirits of the dead. As she grows up, Jillian’s drawings begin to both reflect and create the realities she sees around her, culminating at the Casa de los Olviados, a refuge for the sick and elderly run by a traditional faith healer, Juana of God. Beth Alvarado is an American author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her essay collection Anxious Attachments won the 2020 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and was long listed for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spievogel Award for the Art of the Essay. She is also the author of Anthropologies: A Family Memoir and Not a Matter of Love and other stories, which won the Many Voices Project Award. Her stories and essays have been published in many fine journals including The Sun, Guernica: An International Magazine of Politics and Art, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares. Three of her essays have been chosen as Notable by Best American Essays. She is a recipient of a 2020 Oregon Career Artist’s Fellowship, and lives in Bend, Oregon, where she is core faculty at OSU-Cascades Low Residency MFA Program. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 28

26 min 39 sec

In a world that demands faith in progress and growth, Limbo (Fitzcarraldo, 2019) is a companion for the stuck, the isolated, delayed, stranded and those in the dark. Fusing memoir with a meditation on creative block and a cultural history of limbo, Dan Fox considers the role that fallow periods and states of inbetween play in art and life. Limbo is an essay about getting by when you can't get along, employing a cast of artists, ghosts and sailors - including the author's older brother who, in 1985, left England for good to sail the world - to reflect on the creative, emotional and political consequences of being stuck, and its opposites. From the Headington Shark to radical behavioural experiments, from life aboard a container ship to Sun Ra's cosmology, Limbo argues that there can be no growth without stagnancy, no movement without inactivity, and no progress without refusal. Sergio Lopez-Pineiro (Harvard Graduate School of Design) interviews authors on how the portrayal and use of emptiness and allied concepts (such as voids, nothingness, or limbo) in philosophical, political, religious, and social studies are influenced by the imagination and construction of physical space. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 27

50 min 26 sec

The Tashkent-born Russian-American literary critic, editor, essayist, and journalist Vladislav Davidzon has been covering post-Soviet Ukraine for the past ten years, a tumultuous time for that country and the surrounding world. The 2014 “Revolution of Dignity” heralded a tremendous transformation of Ukrainian politics and society that has continued to ripple and reverberate throughout the world. These unprecedented events also wrought a remarkable cultural revolution in Ukraine itself. In late 2015, a year and a half after the 2014 Revolution swept away the presidency of the Moscow-leaning kleptocratic President Viktor Yanukovich, Davidzon and his wife founded a literary journal, The Odessa Review, focusing on newly emergent trends in film, literature, painting, design, and fashion. The journal became an East European cultural institution, publishing outstanding writers in the region and beyond. From his vantage point as a journalist and editor, Davidzon came to observe events and know many of the leading figures in Ukrainian politics and culture, and to write about them for a Western audience. Davidzon later found himself in the center of world events as he became a United States government witness in the Ukraine scandal that shook the presidency of Donald Trump. From Odessa with Love: Political and Literary Essays in Post-Soviet Ukraine (Academica Press, 2020) tells the real story of what happened in Ukraine from the keen and resilient perspective of an observer at its center Steven Seegel is Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 27

54 min 46 sec

Mark Baker is an American journalist and travel writer. In the 1980s, he lived in Vienna and reported on the former Eastern bloc for Business International and The Economist Group. In 1991, he moved to Prague, where he worked as an editor for The Prague Post and co-founded The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse. He’s written 30 travel guidebooks for publishers like Lonely Planet and Fodor's on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic. Čas Proměn (Time of Changes) is his first book of historical nonfiction. Find more about Mark at his website. Steven Seegel is Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 24

53 min 19 sec

Celeste Mohammed speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Home,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Celeste talks about her novel-in-stories, Pleasantview, and why it was important to her to write a book that shows all the complexities and difficulties of island life, with characters who break out of the stereotypical West Indian personality Americans often expect. She also discusses Trinidad’s multicultural society, her choice to write dialogue in patois, and her essay “Split Me in Two,” about being mixed-race during the election of Vice President Kamala Harris. Celeste Mohammed’s debut novel-in-stories, Pleasantview, published this year. Her work has appeared in the New England Review, LitMag, Epiphany, and The Rumpus, among other places. She is the recipient of a 2018 PEN / Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, the 2019 Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the 2017 John Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Celeste graduated from Lesley University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an MFA in creative writing. Read her story in The Common at thecommononline.org/home-celeste-mohammed. Read more about Celeste and her work at thecursivem.com. Purchase Pleasantview here. Below is a list of books and writers from the Caribbean and the West Indies that Celeste recommended in the podcast: Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma The Undiscovered Country by Andre Bagoo Golden Child by Claire Adam Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 24

36 min 2 sec

Cadwell Turnbull appeared on New Books in Science Fiction two years ago to discuss his debut novel, The Lesson, about an alien invasion and colonization of Earth, centered around Turnbull's native U.S. Virgin Islands. He returns to talk about his second book, No Gods, No Monsters (Blackstone, 2021), which, rather than aliens from another planet, features monsters who live among us as our friends, neighbors and even relatives. While ostensibly about the fantastical, the novel is grounded in reality with complex characters whose experiences touch on difficult but important issues like police violence, othering, and even fake news. While the two books have different characters and storylines, Turnbull calls them “sister books.” Aliens and monsters “are both versions of human fears manifested through these speculative elements,” Turnbull says. “One is dealing with a threat from without, and one is dealing with a threat from within. And they both have similar thematic concerns.” Among the topics Turnbull discusses in the interview are the human propensity to deny uncomfortable truths; the challenge of those with different beliefs accepting the same version of reality (even when reality is captured on video); how monsters can provide a window on intersectional marginalization; and how writing can be like solving a puzzle. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 23

31 min 57 sec

On Wandering Beaches (Pardes, 2020) is a novel of journeys, a novel of migration that conceals contradictions that summarize a whole world. Along the shores of Tel Aviv- Haifa-Acre-Nahariyya, all the contradictions are summarized: the Jewish nationalism versus the Arab nationalism, the individual principles versus the traditions of society, the heart versus the mind, femininity versus manliness, the ‘I’ versus the ‘Other’, geography of homeland versus geography of happiness, the end versus the beginning, and emigration versus settlement in homeland. All these contradictions seek on the shores of the novel to achieve reconciliation, affinity, identification and harmony in a deeper entity of humanity, love and happiness. Dr. Rawya Jarjoura Burbara. Born in Nazareth (1969), Dr. Burbara serves as Chief Inspector Director of Arabic (for native speakers of Arabic) at the Ministry of Education, and a lecturer at the Language Department, Oranim College. She is also a writer, and her 10th book was published in 2021 (collection of short stories titled "I do not want to get use to you"). Her Arabic novel, titled "On the shores of wandering" was translated to Hebrew and published by Pardes (2020). Dr. Burbara is editorial member at Maktoob series and The Translators Forum at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is also a member of the Mahmoud Darwish Association. Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 23

47 min 34 sec

Today I interview Stephen Jenkinson. Jenkinson has a new book. It's entitled A Generation's Worth: Spirit Work While the Crisis Reigns (Orphan Wisdom, 2021) and it's a rarity among books and, to my mind, authors. Jenkinson not only attempts to reckon with our current crisis in the midst of it, which would be challenge enough, but he also attempts to reckon with his previous work, asking the ballsy question: do the books that I've written in my life—does, in some part, my life's work—stand up to the pressures of this moment? Did I write anything that withstands the test of this time? This is, to my mind, a colossal demand that Jenkinson asks of himself. He's written books about money and soul, death and wisdom, matrimony and patrimony, and the role of elders in a culture bereft of them. In A Generation's Worth, Jenkinson isn't so much summing up these previous books as leaning in more deeply to the questions that animate them. And through these questions, these wonderings, as Jenkinson calls them, he asks us to lean more deeply into life—not life as we wish it or want it to be—but life as it is, life full of grief and mystery, full of rough gods and dark roads, life that, as he writes, "will prevail over lives, yours included." Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. He is the author of five books, most recently Remember Me. He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 22

56 min 30 sec

The poet Shachar-Mario Mordechai was born 1975 in Haifa and he currently lives in Tel Aviv. He has published four volumes of poetry, all of which attracted critical attention. Mordechai is the 2017 recipient of the Prime-Minister’s award for creativity in poetry and the 2010 recipient of Tel Aviv Municipality's nationwide Poetry Competition. He was Poet in Residence at Johns Hopkins University for 2018/9. His book of poems "Make Room For The Rain" won first place in poetry by the Rachel and Leib Goldberg Foundation for 2021. The book was written in the USA when Mario lived for two years in Baltimore and one year in NYC. Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 22

1 hr 8 min

Today I talked to Laurie Frankel about her new novel One, Two, Three (Henry Holt, 2021). The little town of Bourne made national news seventeen years before when its water turned green and people started to get sick. The Mitchell triplets were born that year, after the factory closed, the town began to wither along with its citizens, and their father died. The three girls, each a different version of normal, have watched their mother’s endless fight for justice from the company that destroyed their town. Mirabel, number Three, is the smartest triplet, even though she can’t speak and uses a wheelchair. Monday, number Two, inherited all the library’s books when the library building closed. She eats and wears only yellow and knows exactly where in the house each book is hidden. And Mab, number One, is trying to get into college and out of Bourne. Then one day, a moving truck pulls up and the Mitchell sisters are forced to grapple with a past that was never resolved. Laurie Frankel writes novels (and reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and has a degree in reading Shakespeare, which has relatively little to do with writing novels. She has taught writing, literature, and gender studies at both community colleges and universities. Now she is at work — always — on her next novel but also blogs about craft at Medium where she endeavors to help other people finish their novels. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 21

24 min 31 sec

Two plays about the legal battle to decriminalize homosexuality in India. On September 6, 2018, a decades-long battle to decriminalize queer intimacy in India came to an end. The Supreme Court of India ruled that Section 377, the colonial anti-sodomy law, violated the country’s constitution. “LGBT persons,” the Court said, “deserve to live a life unshackled from the shadow of being ‘unapprehended felons.’” But how definitive was this end? How far does the law’s shadow fall? How clear is the line between the past and the future? What does it mean to live with full sexual citizenship? In Love and Reparation: A Theatrical Response to the Section 377 Litigation in India (Seagull Books, 2021), Danish Sheikh navigates these questions with a deft interweaving of the legal, the personal, and the poetic. The two plays in this volume leap across court transcripts, affidavits (real and imagined), archival research, and personal memoir. Through his re-staging, Sheikh crafts a genre-bending exploration of a litigation battle, and a celebration of defiant love that burns bright in the shadow of the law. Saronik Bosu (@SaronikB on Twitter) is a doctoral candidate in English at New York University. He is writing his dissertation on South Asian economic writing. He is coordinator of the Medical Humanities Working Group at NYU, and of the Postcolonial Anthropocene Research Network. He also co-hosts the podcast High Theory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 20

45 min 55 sec

Franz Nicolay's Someone Should Pay for Your Pain (Gibson House Press, 2021) is a moving, funny, and sometimes brutal novel about the life of a touring musician. Rudy Pauver is a punk-turned-singer-songwriter now roughly ten years past his peak. He draws a small but steady crowd in bars and venues far from the beaten track, all while enduring the thundering success of his one-time protege Ryan Orland. Nicolay brings his decades of experience as a musician to this novel, which teems with perfect tiny details of the rigors of touring. This is a coming of middle age story for anyone who's ever wondered what goes on in the van during the long stretches between the glamorous heights of a musician's life. Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 15

51 min 14 sec

Despite the deluge of novels about World War II that has characterized the last few years, the period leading up to the war on the Pacific Front has received far less attention. One welcome exception is the Death in Shanghai series penned by Garrett Hutson, the latest book of which is No Accidental Death (Warfleigh Publishing, 2021). The series revolves around Douglas Bainbridge, a naval intelligence officer assigned to a two-year immersion program in Chinese language and culture. Doug has defied the expectations of his affluent but rigid parents by joining the US Navy instead of taking over the family business, and although he has already developed fluency in Mandarin, he is not emotionally prepared for the rich and varied life that awaits him in Shanghai’s International Settlement when he arrives in May 1935. It doesn’t help that he has barely unpacked his suitcases before a childhood friend, met by chance in a bar, winds up dead in the streets—with the local police all too willing to assign responsibility for the murder to Doug. Doug sets out to clear his name in that first novel, The Jade Dragon, in the process establishing a chain of tangled alliances and favors that help him through the sequel, Assassin’s Hood. By the time No Accidental Death opens in July 1937, Doug has completed his immersion program and moved on to his dream job as intelligence officer on a naval vessel in the Yangtze fleet. His new position takes him away from Shanghai more than he likes, but it remains his home port. He’s eager to disembark and reunite with his beloved Lucy Kinzler and his cohort of friends. But soon a crewman from Doug’s ship is killed under mysterious circumstances and the Fleet Admiral charges Doug with solving the crime. Once again, Doug must place duty above pleasure—this time in the midst of an ongoing battle between the Japanese Navy and the Chinese National Army for the control of both Shanghai and Beijing. These are fast-moving, well-written murder mysteries with a refreshing take on the complexities of Chinese culture in the period leading up to the Japanese invasion of 1937. The characters have enough disagreements and flaws to keep them interesting, and the theme of various characters’ homosexuality and Doug’s growing acceptance of them is well handled. They even add something to that massive literature on World War II! Garrett Hutson writes upmarket historical mysteries and spy fiction, driven by flawed characters who are moving and unforgettable. He lives in Indianapolis with his husband, four adorable dogs, two odd-ball cats, and too many fish to count. No Accidental Death (Death in Shanghai 3) is his most recent novel. C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 13

34 min 29 sec

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings almost a century ago revolutionized the study of ancient Egypt and its pharaohs. The splendors that surrounded the burial of this relatively minor ruler, interred in a hastily arranged tomb, sparked a furor of speculation, scholarship, and outright chicanery and draw crowds even today. For a long time, though, no one knew that the first modern person to enter the tomb was not Howard Carter, the famed archaeologist who located it, but Lady Evelyn (Eve) Herbert, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of Lord Carnarvon, who funded Carter’s expedition. In The Collector’s Daughter (William Morrow, 2021), Gill Paul approaches the story of Carter’s discovery from the perspective of its long-term effects on those involved in the find. We meet Eve first in 1972, fifty years after these life-changing events, when she has just awoken in a hospital after suffering the latest in a series of strokes that sap her physical and mental strength. She barely recognizes the man sitting next to her, although she soon concludes (correctly) that he is her husband, Brograve. As Eve fights her way back to health, Brograve attempts to jog her memory with photographs and tales, each of which sets off a trip into the past where we see what actually occurred and contrast it with Eve’s foggy recollections. Meanwhile, Brograve is doing his best to shield his wife from the demands of an Egyptian archaeologist determined to track down missing artifacts from the tomb—on behalf of her government, her university, or herself? We’re not quite sure of the archaeologist’s motives, only that she has secrets of her own. The tale of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the accidents that followed its discovery, and how Eve came to be the first person to enter its suffocating atmosphere three thousand years after the ancient Egyptian priests sealed the sarcophagus is beautifully told. But what really sets The Collector’s Daughter apart is its haunting exploration of memory loss and its impact on Eve and Brograve’s long and loving marriage. This is definitely a book that you don’t want to miss. Gill Paul writes historical fiction, mostly set in the twentieth century, and enjoys reevaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads. Her novels have reached the top of the USA Today and Globe and Mail (Canada) bestseller lists and been translated into twenty languages. C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and three other novels. Her latest book, Song of the Sisters, appeared in January 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 7

40 min 26 sec

Botonist Andre Damazy undertakes a perilous exploration into the mountains of Kazakhstan to retrieve a sapling from a rare apple tree in the mountains of Kazakhstan. At great cost, he manages to retrieve a sapling, and brings it to his hidden greenhouse in Paris. The fruit of the tree has mysterious medicinal properties, and Andre’s mission is both scientific and personal, because his mother has suffered a serious stroke. He receives sufficient funding to create the correct conditions to care for the trees, but he’s under pressure, both from his sponsors, and from a mysterious organization that fears the apple is an omen of evil. Second in Karen Hugg’s literary thriller series focused on the world of plants, Harvesting the Sky (Woodhall Press, 2021) is a parable about what we take from nature. Karen Hugg is also the author of The Forgetting Flower and Song of the Tree Hollow. Born into a Polish family and raised in Chicago, she later moved to Seattle and worked as an editor in tech, which gave her the opportunity to live in Paris for a short time. Afterward, she became a certified ornamental horticulturalist and master pruner. Karen earned an MFA from Goddard College and her work has appeared in The Big Thrill, Crime Reads, Thrive Global, and other publications. She lives with her husband and three kids in Seattle, where she’s finishing up her first nonfiction book, Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants. When she’s not writing or gardening, Karen is learning guitar by playing her favorite songs from the Scottish band, Travis. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 7

28 min 15 sec

It’s no coincidence that one of the main characters in S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City carries with ser a qíjìtáng, or cabinet of curiosities. Lu’s novella is, itself, a cabinet of unusual mementos, with many smaller objects carefully folded into the larger structure. On one level the plot is simple. The qíjìtáng is full of stories, and its owner, Vessel, who hovers between life and death, needs to add one more story to ser collection in order to have a second chance at life. (Vessel’s pronouns are se, ser and sers). So se asks Anima, one of eight people who provide surveillance for the city-state of Ora, for aer story. (Anima’s pronouns are ay, aer and aers). But Anima’s life isn’t so simple. Ay serves as a node in the city’s Hub, which aer monitors by entering the consciousness of animals (including a gecko, raven, and wild dog during the course of the story). In this way, Ay can travel anywhere and yet aer body is fastened by a stem to a tank of amniotic-like fluid. Lu likens Anima’s experience of being both fixed and all-knowing to our relationship with the internet. “We're sitting in front of a computer, and, physically, our body is stationed in front of this machine. But through this network, we're able to explore so much,” Lu says. “We’re able to go to faraway lands, see through the eyes of someone else.” The topics ay covers in aer New Books interview include aer inspirations for the novella (such as China’s facial recognition technology), aer interest in linguistics, including neopronouns, and aer fascination with experimental narratives. Lu is also a poet, editor, and translator and runs microverses, which publishes speculative flash fiction, poetry, and other short forms of storytelling. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Sep 2

30 min 30 sec

Today I talked to Trisha R. Thomas about her new novel What Passes as Love (Lake Union Publishing, 2021). In 1850, at age six, Dahlia Holt is taken from the only home she knows and moved into the big house to serve her two older sisters. They share a father, who owns the house and its slaves. On her sixteenth birthday, Dahlia gets to dress up in one of the sister’s discarded dresses for a trip to the city. There, she gets separated from her family, and meets a young Englishman who thinks she’s white. She introduces herself as an orphan without a family. It starts out as a lark, but her adventures could destroy those she left behind. Especially after her father puts a high bounty on her head, because she is, after all, a runaway slave. TRISHA R. THOMAS won the Literary Lion Award from the King County Library Foundation. Her first book, Nappily Ever After, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature as well as being featured in O Magazine’s Books That Make a Difference. Her work has been reviewed in the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Her debut novel is now adapted to a feature film on Netflix. She’s had 11 novels published and continues to write from her home in California. When she’s not writing, she’s tending to her mini farm where she grows tomatoes, avocados, and lemons, all the perfect ingredients for guacamole and avocado toast. I interview authors of beautifully written literary fiction and mysteries, and try to focus on independently published novels, especially by women and others whose voices deserve more attention. If your upcoming or recently published novel might be a candidate for a podcast, please contact me via my website, gpgottlieb dot com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Aug 31

23 min 42 sec

Jose Hernandez Diaz speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem “Ode to a California Neck Tattoo,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Jose talks about finding his way to prose poetry, initially drawn in by its casual language and style. He also discusses the process of editing and revising poetry, his interest in the surreal, and what it’s like writing from a first generation point of view. Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of the 2020 book The Fire Eater. His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an associate editor at Frontier Poetry and Palette Poetry. He is from Southern California. Read “Ode to a California Neck Tattoo” at thecommononline.org/ode-to-a-california-neck-tattoo. Follow Jose on Twitter at @JoseHernandezDz. Sign up for Jose’s Intro to Prose Poetry online course at litromagazine.com. Submit to Frontier Poetry, where Jose is an editor, at frontierpoetry.com. The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag. Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Aug 27

17 min 22 sec

Is it just a coincidence that three books by the major Russian writer Maria Stepanova have appeared in English in 2021? Why does Maria Stepanova deploy such a rich variety of voices and forms? What are the challenges of translating her poetry? Who are the pantheon of deceased writers who seem to haunt her every line?  In this conversation, the editor of The Voice Over: Poems and Essays (Columbia UP, 2021), Irina Shevelenko talks about Stepanova's poetry and prose with Duncan McCargo. Irina elaborates on her wonderful introduction to the collection and explains how she assembled an outstanding team of translators to help bring this work to an international audience. Both Duncan and Irina read extracts from Stepanova's work. (Maria Stepanova is the author of over ten poetry collections as well as three books of essays and the documentary novel In Memory of Memory.) (US: New Directions, Canada: Book*hug Press, UK: Fitzcarraldo), which was shortlisted for the 2021 Man Booker International Prize.  Her poetry collection War of the Beasts and the Animals was published by Bloodaxe Books, also in 2021. She is the recipient of several Russian and international literary awards. Irina Shevelenko is professor of Russian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Translations are by: Alexandra Berlina, Sasha Dugdale, Sibelan Forrester, Amelia Glaser, Zachary Murphy King, Dmitry Manin, Ainsley Morse, Eugene Ostashevsky, Andrew Reynolds, and Maria Vassileva. For a video of the May 2021 launch event for The Voice Over, featuring Maria Stepanova and several of the translators, see  Book Launch of Maria Stepanova’s The Voice Over: Poems and Essays – A Reading and Conversation – CREECA – UW–Madison (wisc.edu) Maria Stepanova is one of the most powerful and distinctive voices of Russia’s first post-Soviet literary generation. An award-winning poet and prose writer, she has also founded a major platform for independent journalism. Her verse blends formal mastery with a keen ear for the evolution of spoken language. As Russia’s political climate has turned increasingly repressive, Stepanova has responded with engaged writing that grapples with the persistence of violence in her country’s past and present. Some of her most remarkable recent work as a poet and essayist considers the conflict in Ukraine and the debasement of language that has always accompanied war. The Voice Over brings together two decades of Stepanova’s work, showcasing her range, virtuosity, and creative evolution. Stepanova’s poetic voice constantly sets out in search of new bodies to inhabit, taking established forms and styles and rendering them into something unexpected and strange. Recognizable patterns of ballads, elegies, and war songs are transposed into a new key, infused with foreign strains, and juxtaposed with unlikely neighbors. As an essayist, Stepanova engages deeply with writers who bore witness to devastation and dramatic social change, as seen in searching pieces on W. G. Sebald, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Susan Sontag. Including contributions from ten translators, The Voice Over shows English-speaking readers why Stepanova is one of Russia’s most acclaimed contemporary writers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literature

Aug 27

45 min 47 sec