10 Memorable Conversations from 15 Years of Book Review Podcasts

This month we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Book Review’s podcast, which is the first podcast in the Times and is still going strong. Pamela Paul, the show’s host and editor of Book Review, recently wrote about it 15 of her favorite episodes He has been at the helm for eight years. I felt that I would expand the scope of the entire collection – Sam Tanhaus, Paul’s predecessor, host for seven years – and share 10 more memorable conversations. (As an editor at The Times, I’ve been involved in podcasts since 2011.) Below you’ll hear Tony Morrison discuss his vision for his novel “A Mercy”; Andre Agassi, Christopher Hitchens and Zeenat Winterson talk about their memoirs; Andrew Solomon on the in-depth text of death and death; even more.

November 30, 2008

This was a different era of podcasts, when each episode aired on the radio and had to fit a 15-minute template. This “extended” conversation with Tony Morrison is only seven minutes long. But given that it is Morrison, they are a full seven minutes. (Her segment begins in about a five-minute episode, following an update on the publishing industry.) Morrison talked about why she set “A Mercy” when she debuted in 1680, as it was a time “Even before this was the idea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAmerica, just the name of a continent,” when the segregation of whites, black people, and Native Americans was not as strictly codified as it would become. “Dividing the world ethnically or racially was a deliberate and continuous phenomenon that continued to grow,” she said. “But before that, I just wanted to suggest what it could be. The story about the beginning of this country is now in front of us. “

November 22, 2009

With respect to all our guests over the years, some episodes, compared to others, have no apparent “lead” guest, but many headliners, and this is one of those cases. Agassi was on the show to discuss his acclaimed autobiography, “Open”. He talked about his dislike of tennis, which he realized through his youth and in-store career, and about the process of working and working with his co-writer, J. R. Moehringer. Stephen King came to this episode not to speak of his own work but to talk about the great short story Raymond Carver. The opportunity was twofold: a new biography of Carver by Carol Sklenica, and a collection of Carver’s stories published by the Library of America.

20 June 2010

Hitchken appeared several times on the podcast, but never more revealing than the memoir discussing his memoir “Fitch-22”. But apart from being personal – about his father, his friendship with Martin Amis, his first experiences after moving to the United States – he also makes time to discuss politics, including his impression of then President Barack Obama. “I think his humor and intelligence and beauty and open mind may in some ways be the cause of loss for him,” Hitchens said. “A lot of the major problems of our time do not, in fact, arise from misunderstandings, because that sometimes gives the impression of thinking, or expectation, that they do.”

25 March 2012

If you are in a bad mood, I challenge you to listen to this interview with Zeenat Winterson and stay that way. Even though Winterson appeared to talk about her troubled childhood – and in her unbeatable untitled memoir, “Why Have Happy When You Have Normal Bee?” – Her dialogue is energetic and hyper-articulated, as if she talks while she is writing one of her books. She begins this section talking about her adopted mother: “I call her a demon, but I say she was my demon.” He was a big screen character in the small screen of our lives. He had operative dimensions. “

In 2016, Andrew Solomon Wrote about five books That the subjects of death and dying are concerned. As he described it in his review: “by a historian; Two by Dharamshala workers; By a widow; A man who is dying himself. “His pieces in Solomon’s podcast and discussion of those books resulted in a more emotional and darker episode in the show’s history.” Part of what these books are about, Solomon said, is the enormous beauty in them. Is, that is a form of hope. “” So on the one hand, that people die, and on the other, that people live so rich in that moment before they die. And when you read these books, not only You have to reconcile yourself to your mortality, you also think, ‘Maybe I do as beautifully as they did, and if I could, it probably wouldn’t be so bad Me, the people I leave behind; perhaps someone else’s death will not be so bad for me. ” There is a strange relief that is buried in these books. “

26 April 2019

Historian Henry Lewis Gates Jr. had two new books while she sat for this episode – books covering the same ground, but for different audiences. “Stony the Road” is about the reconstruction and the establishment of Jim Crow. “Dark Sky Rising” is a nonfiction work for young adults about the same era, which he wrote with Tony Bolden. Wallace-Wells was on the show to discuss “The Unabitable Earth”, his terrific book about our future in the face of climate change. Both guests proved that a depressing topic can sometimes be the best basis for a fascinating conversation.

December 13, 2019

Reginald Dwayne Bates came to speak on the podcast Third collection of poems, “Falon,” And about his remarkable personal story: At the age of 16, after spending more than eight years in prison for a carjacking, Bates graduated in writing, then a doctorate in jurisprudence from Yale Law School , And became an acclaimed writer and poet. Bates stated that his attempt to “felon” was to write directly about the challenges, stigmas, and weaknesses that come after life. “I wanted to think of ways in which it is this whole scenario of loss that exists that we do not address,” he says. “It has me trying to figure out the complex ways in which we figure out how we can be human once we get home.”

10 July 2020

Featuring regular critics as well as writers on podcasts is one of the things that we believe sets the show apart. When Daniel Mendelsohn Reviewed David Mitchell’s novel “Utopia Avenue” On the cover of the Book Review, he used it as an opportunity and also considered Mitchell’s varied and predictable career. This wide-ranging conversation on the podcast, not just about Mitchell’s work, but about the general art of reading to any writer during a long career, is a particular favorite from the critique category.

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