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Books and Authors


This podcast features Open Book and A Good Read. Open Book talks to authors about their work. In A Good Read Harriett Gilbert discusses favourite books.


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This podcast features Open Book and A Good Read. Open Book talks to authors about their work. In A Good Read Harriett Gilbert discusses favourite books.



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Claire Messud

Claire Messud, Kafka and Jiaming Tang


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A Good Read: Samantha Harvey and Darran Anderson

QUARTET IN AUTUMN by Barbara Pym, chosen by Samantha Harvey MRS CALIBAN by Rachel Ingalls, chosen by Harriett Gilbert PHARMACOPOEIA: A DUNGENESS NOTEBOOK by Derek Jarman, chosen by Darran Anderson Two award-winning writers share books they love with Harriett Gilbert. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio


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A Good Read: Dan Schreiber and Kathryn Hughes

Historian and author Kathryn Hughes and No Such Thing As a Fish presenter Dan Schreiber recommend favourite books to Harriett Gilbert. Kathryn chooses Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes, an exploration of the French writer's life in the form of a novel. Dan's choice is very different - John Higgs taking on the conceptual artists and chart toppers The KLF. Harriett has gone for Michael Ondaatje's novel Warlight, set in a murky and mysterious post-war London. Presenter: Harriett Gilbert Producer for BBC Audio Bristol: Sally Heaven


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Open Book - Maggie Nelson

Octavia Bright talks to Maggie Nelson about Like Love, an anthology of essays which explore art and friendship and criticism. And a new prize for climate fiction. Presenter: Octavia Bright Producer: Nicola Holloway


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Open Book - Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry talks to Shahidha Bari about her new novel, Enlightenment


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Open Book - Hari Kunzru

Hari Kunzru talks to Shahidha Bari about his new novel, Blue Ruin


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Open Book - Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota talks to Alex Clark about his new novel, The Spoiled Heart


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Open Book - Sinéad Gleeson

Sinéad Gleeson is a writer, broadcaster and editor of three anthologies of Irish writing. Her collection of essays, Constellations: Reflections from Life won Non Fiction Book of the Year at the 2019 Irish Book Awards, and now publishes her debut novel, Hagstone. Hagstone is set on a remote island of the coast of Ireland, it tells the story of Nell an artist whose work takes inspiration from the landscape and folklore. When she receives an invitation to create a piece of art from the Inions, a reclusive commune of women living sustainably on the island, things begin to unravel. Sinead discusses the precarity of living as an artist, the folklore which infuses Hagstone and dedicating the book to the late activist and artist Sinead O' Connor. The Book Makers by Adam Smyth is a celebration of five hundred and fifty years of the printed book, told through the lives of eighteen extraordinary people. The printers and binders, publishers and artists, paper-makers and library founders - who took the book in radical new directions. We hear about the binder who created Shakespeare's First Folio, a 16th century Dutch printer who created bestsellers on Fleet Street and the Cut and Paste Bible sisters who made art from the gospels. And Kick the Latch author Kathryn Scanlan discusses her love of Moyra Davey’s Long Life: Cool White, Photographs and Essays. Book List – Sunday 21 March Hagstone by Sinéad Gleeson The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers by Sinéad Gleeson The Glass Shore edited by Sinéad Gleeson Constellations: Reflections from Life by Sinéad Gleeson Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan Long Life Cool White: Photographs by Moyra Davey The Book Makers by Adam Smyth


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Open Book - Percival Everett

US author Percival Everett talks about his new novel, James - a retelling of Huckleberry Finn, told from the point of view of runaway slave, Jim. Plus, writing openly about the challenges of motherhood, and doing so with humour. Shahidha talks to two authors who have done just that, in the short story form: Naomi Wood, winner of the BBC Short Story Award, and author of a new collection, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, and to Helen Simpson who has written stories about motherhood in books such as Motherhood, and Hey Yeah Right Get A Life over 20 years previously. Presenter: Shahidha Bari Producer: Emma Wallace


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Open Book - Andrew O'Hagan and Helen Garner

Alex Clark talks to Andrew O’Hagan about his new book Caledonian Road. Told over the course of a year, Caledonian Road follows art historian and public intellectual Campbell Flynn as a friendship with a young student calls into question the complacency of his much-cherished liberal credentials. With an epic Dickensian cast from drill artists to the wealthy Russian oligarchs in bed with British politicians, the book spools out to encompass a wide canvas of contemporary British life. Alex also talks to the Australian writer Helen Garner as three books from her back catalogue have been reissued: The Monkey Grip, chronicling a young mother’s life in bohemian Melbourne in the 1970s; This House of Grief, a true crime story of a murderous father; and her most widely renowned novel, The Children’s Bach, which takes us into the lives of a family turned upside down by the forces of sexual desire and the impulse toward freedom. And, DJ turned novelist, Annie Macmanus shares the Book She'd Never Lend


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A Good Read - Carol Morley and Will Hislop

THE RED PARTS by Maggie Nelson (Vintage), chosen by Carol Morley INVISIBLE CITIES by Italo Calvino (Vintage), chosen by Will Hislop ORDINARY PEOPLE by Diana Evans (Vintage), chosen by Harriett Gilbert Film director Carol Morley chooses a memoir called The Red Parts, in which author Maggie Nelson tries to make sense of the horror, grief and scepticism of her own aunt's murder trial. A book that blurs the boundaries between personal memoir, psychoanalysis and true crime. Comedian Will Hislop chooses Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which transports us to 55 different fictional reincarnations of Venice through a series of beautifully detailed and occasionally absurd vignettes. Calvino's prose poems are ordered by theme and, as a reader, you can choose how you want to navigate his matrix of the chapters. Harriett's choice takes us to London with a novel by Diana Evans called Ordinary People, in which two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, an intimate study of identity, parenthood and the fragility of love. Presenter: Harriett Gilbert Producer: Becky Ripley


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Open Book: Carys Davies, Annie Ernaux

Carys Davies on her new novel, Clear. Plus Annie Ernaux and photography


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Open Book - Jonathan Buckley, Lit Crit and David Baddiel

Alex Clark talks to novelist Jonathan Buckley about his novel, Tell. The story is told as a monologue by an unnamed narrator, the gardener of self-made businessman and would-be art collector, Curtis Doyle. Doyle has gone missing from his Scottish estate and many stories about his rags to riches life are being constructed. Tell is a novel concerned with the nature of storytelling, narrative form and the inherent unreliability of memory. Critic and writer Lauren Oyler and fiction editor of the TLS, Toby Lichtig, discuss the impact of online reviewing on professional literary criticism. Plus David Baddiel on his ten years of writing books for children.


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A Good Read: Christopher Eccleston and Lindsey Hilsum

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith, chosen by Lindsey Hilsum MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor E. Frankl (trans. Ilse Lasch), chosen by Christopher Eccleston TOWARDS THE END OF THE MORNING by Michael Frayn, chosen by Harriett Gilbert The television journalist and actor share favourite books with Harriett Gilbert. Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor of Channel 4 News, loves Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, her account of coming to New York as a young woman and of her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It's a coming-of-age story set against the heady backdrop of 1970s counterculture; it's a story of becoming an artist; and it's a love story that turns into an elegy. The actor Christopher Eccleston chooses Man's Search for Meaning, the psychotherapist Viktor Frankl's account of his time in Nazi concentration camps and how those experiences informed his belief that man's deepest need is to search for meaning and purpose. It's a powerful book about retaining one's humanity in the face of unimaginable suffering and degradation. And Harriett Gilbert chooses Towards the End of the Morning, Michael Frayn's 1967 satire about journalists working on a newspaper during the heyday of Fleet Street. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio


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A Good Read - Katy Hessel and Amy Blakemore

CHESS by Stefan Zweig (Faber), chosen by Katy Hessel MAUD MARTHA by Gwendolyn Brooks (Penguin), chosen by Amy Blakemore THE PIER FALLS by Mark Haddon (Vintage), chosen by Harriett Gilbert Art historian Katy Hessel chooses a book that she read in one sitting because she couldn't put it down: Chess by Stefan Zweig. A novella about the limitless possibilities of the game, and of the human mind. Author Amy Blakemore chooses Maud Martha by the American poet Gwendolyn Brookes, a story of a life told with such a brevity and beauty of prose that it is almost poetry. Harriett's choice is a collection of short stories called The Pier Falls by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon, who is not afraid to disturb. Presenter: Harriett Gilbert Producer: Becky Ripley


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Open Book - Daphne du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt of Manderley again..." begins Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier one of the most well-loved novels of the 20th century. As part of the Daphne du Maurier: Double Exposure season on Radio 4, Open Book looks again at her hugely popular novels to reveal the enduring qualities and appeal of her writing. From the pirates, smugglers and bewitching Cornish wilds of Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek, to the gender politics and class commentary of Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, du Maurier’s reputation as a romance novelist misrepresented the true breadth of her work. Octavia Bright is joined by Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City, Funny Weather and Crudo; novelist, short story writer and Cornish resident Wyl Menmuir and Dr Laura Varnam of Oxford University, an expert on du Maurier’s life and work, to strip away some of the undermining labels she struggled to shake in her lifetime.


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A Good Read: Andrew McMillan and Kathryn Williams

ON WRITING by Stephen King, chosen by Kathryn Williams THE BITCH by Pilar Quintana (translated by Lisa Dillman), chosen by Harriett Gilbert ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute, chosen by Andrew McMillan The singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams loves books about the craft of writing and her choice of a good read is 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft', by the master of horror, Stephen King. The book gave her practical tools and advice which helped her to write her debut novel, The Ormering Tide. She also loves what we learn about King's life - from his flatulent childhood nanny to the devastating 1999 accident which almost ended his life. Harriett's choice this week is The Bitch by Colombian author Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. In a village on the Pacific coast of Colombia, between wild jungle and wild seas, a childless woman develops a complicated relationship with an orphaned puppy. And the poet and novelist Andrew McMillan chooses On the Beach by Nevil Shute. In Australia, a group of people try to come to terms with the end of the world. A nuclear war has wiped out all life in the northern hemisphere and the radiation is drifting steadily south. What would you do if you knew that you, and everyone you know, had only months to live? Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio


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A Good Read Paterson Joseph and Richard Coles

More books worth reading chosen by well known guests


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Kate Davies

Kate Davies talks to Chris Power about her new novel, Nuclear Family.


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A Good Read: Anjana Vasan and Anne-Marie Imafidon

An actor and singer and a computer scientist and author pick their favourite books.