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Jake Bonner, the protagonist of “The Plot” by Gene Hanff Correlitz Writes novels based on someone else’s idea. The book becomes a huge hit, but Jake has difficulty enjoying it because he is worried about getting caught. On this week’s podcast, Correlitz says that Jake’s more general concerns about his career as a writer are related despite his own success (this is his seventh novel).
“Jake is all of us,” Correlitz says. “I used to watch other people’s literary careers very keenly. I used to have this little private parlor game: Do I want that person’s career? Would I like to That Person’s Career? And those names have changed over the years as the career has faltered, disappeared. I have been publishing for a very long time, and in the 1990s my contemporaries were people with great success, who have not been heard from for 10, 15 years now. So it’s very tortoise and rabbit-like in my own case. “
Elizabeth Hinton visited the podcast to discuss her new book, “America on fire,” A history of racial protest and police violence that redefines the civil rights struggle between the mass demonstrations after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the assassination of George Floyd in 2020. Hinton writes of major rebellions, but also focuses on lesser known examples of systemic violence against black communities in places such as York, Pa., And Cairo, Ill.
“Part of why the violence was so extreme in those two cities was part of the deep entanglement between white vigilance groups and white power groups and the police department and the political and economic elites in both cities,” says Hinton. “So in many ways, what happened, especially in Cairo, is a warning to all of us as to what the consequences would be when officers decide to use the police to manage the material consequences of socioeconomic exclusion and poverty. Huh.”
Also in this week’s episode, Elizabeth Harris has news from the publishing world; Tina Jordan looks at book review history as she is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year; And Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what they are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What Are We Reading”:
We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode and the book review podcast in general. You can send them Books @ nytimes.com.