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Literary Friction - History with Esi Edugyan

From Ivanhoe to Wolf Hall to The Essex Serpent, what is it about the historical novel that is so compelling? This month, we spoke to Canadian author Esi Edugyan about her third novel, Washington Black (shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize). It tells the story of a gifted artist, born a slave on a plantation in 1830s Bermuda, and the fantastic and surprising course of his life which takes him from the Arctic to London to the deserts of Morocco in an exciting but perilous adventure....


Literary Friction Special - Sally Rooney

We're thrilled to bring you this podcast special: a recording of Octavia’s live interview with author Sally Rooney at Waterstones Leeds to celebrate the publication of Normal People, her Booker-Prize-longlisted second novel, a story about love and power and privilege set in contemporary Ireland. Sally first joined us on the show last year to talk about her acclaimed first book, Conversations with Friends, which you can find in our archive if you haven't listened yet. Enjoy!


Literary Friction - High Society with Patrick deWitt

Who wants to be a millionaire? This month, darlings, we’re talking about all things hoity-toity, posh and expensive - our theme is High Society. Why are there so many rich people in fiction? Should they be anything other than the object of ridicule and scorn? Are the rich different? To help answer these questions, we talked to award-winning Canadian novelist Patrick deWitt. His fourth novel, French Exit, is the story of Frances, an upper-class widow and her adult son, Malcolm, who flee...


Literary Friction - Rest & Relaxation with Ottessa Moshfegh

Everyone needs to peace out from time to time, so this month we’re talking about the fictional trope of rest and relaxation, and how authors have explored this kind of inertia - from the tale of Rip Van Winkle to the Swiss sanitorium in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Our guest is the novelist Ottessa Moshfegh, whose brilliant new novel is called My Year of Rest and Relaxation. In it, a privileged young woman living on the upper East side in Manhattan, dissatisfied with her life, decides...


Literary Friction - Youth Culture with Guy Gunaratne

Youth culture: is it the territory of fashion and music, or can novels tell us something about the teenage experience? This month is dedicated to the youths and their subcultures – from flappers to mods to punks to ravers – and we examine how authors have attempted to capture the fragile, gnarly reality of life as a young person in novels like A Clockwork Orange and the latest YA sensations. Our guest is Guy Gunaratne, whose explosive first novel In Our Mad and Furious City is set over 48...


Literary Friction - State Of The Nation with Olivia Laing

Western politics is a mess right now, so what better time to discuss the role of the State of the Nation novel - those books that capture the zeitgeist and make us reflect on the contemporary moment. Can literature speak to our times in ways other media can't? Our guest today, friend of the programme Olivia Laing, has made a good argument in favour with her fourth book, but first novel, Crudo. Unfolding in real time during the summer of 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote and Trump’s...


Literary Friction - Small Towns with Jon McGregor

Whether it’s Jefferson, Mississippi in the novels of William Faulkner, or coastal Maine in Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, or even the Shire, the small, tight-knit community has provided fertile ground for novelists. This month, we bring you a show dedicated to small towns in literature, partly recorded in front of a live audience at the Derby Book Festival, where we interviewed acclaimed author Jon McGregor about his latest novel, Reservoir 13. It tells the story of a girl's...


Literary Friction - On The Road With Damian Le Bas

Our theme this month is ‘On the Road’ and no - we’re not spending an hour discussing Jack Kerouac (phew). Instead, we’ll be talking about all the other wonderful books that have taken us on the road and, usually, on a journey of discovery too. Our guest is writer Damian Le Bas, whose fascinating debut The Stopping Places is a journey through Gypsy Britain, in which he visits the places scattered across the country where his Gypsy family and ancestors made their temporary homes. So listen...


Literary Friction - Memoir With Viv Albertine

Nothing grants insight into lived experience quite like a memoir, and the form is currently having a resurgence. This month, we celebrate the memoirs that take us from the experience of giving birth to coming out to what it’s like to be in a world-famous band, via all the richness and thorny issues that this form promises. Our guest is Viv Albertine, former guitarist in the hugely influential all-female punk band The Slits. Her first memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music....


Literary Friction - Rediscovery with Nell Dunn & Jennifer Hodgson

This show is dedicated to rediscovered literature - all the neglected gems that have been reintroduced to the world by passionate publishers, writers and readers. Joining us are two wonderful guests: first, playwright and writer Nell Dunn, whose 1965 book Talking to Women is a collection of edited transcripts of conversations with nine of her female friends. Out of print until now, feminist publisher Silver Press are reviving it this May. In the book, Nell speaks to author Ann Quin, the...


Literary Friction - Friendship With Dolly Alderton

Good friends are hard to beat, and this month's show is dedicated to those bonds that are often the deepest and most enduring in our lives. Our guest, author and journalist Dolly Alderton, writes wonderfully about friendship. Her first book, Everything I Know About Love is a series of essays and other vignettes about - amongst other things - growing up in London, disastrous dates and parties, and love between friends. So join us as we talk about great literary friendships, from Lila and...


Literary Friction - A Spoonful Of Sugar With Leila Slimani

As the most famous nanny in the world once said, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but you won't need to sweeten the deal as you listen to our latest guest: French-Moroccan author Leïla Slimani joins us this month to discuss her compelling second novel Lullaby, which examines a relationship between a young Parisian couple and their nanny that ends in tragedy. Lullaby won France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt, making Leïla the twelfth woman in history to...


Literary Friction - Novellas with Cynan Jones

The novella - a book that you can devour in a day, or even a single sitting. Feared by contemporary publishing but loved by readers, some of the most enduring works of literature, from Death in Venice to Mrs Dalloway to The Stranger, can be included in this category. This month we were joined by a writer of very good, very short books, Welsh author Cynan Jones, so without further ado, we dedicate this episode to the pithy brilliance of short novels.


Literary Friction - Shame With Pajtim Statovci

From Adam and Eve to Hester Prynne to Cersie Lannister, characters in literature have been motivated by and undone by shame, so this month we decided to get up close and personal with this uncomfortable emotion. We spoke to author Pajtim Statovci about his brilliant first novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, which was originally published in Finnish in 2014. It tells the story of a young gay refugee from the Balkans, whose search for meaning in the midst of loneliness leads him to purchase a boa...


Literary Friction - Know Your Place with Kit de Waal + Nathan Connolly + Abondance Matanda

After Brexit - the supposed ‘will of the people’ - everyone is talking about the working class. And yet the actual voice of the working class is rarely heard, especially in literature. This month, we have a very special edition of Literary Friction based around a new collection of essays on the working class by the working class called Know Your Place, published by the brilliant gang at Dead Ink Books. We talked to three authors featured in the collection about their essays and the urgent...


Literary Friction - The Everyday with Karl Ove Knausgaard

It's September, the leaves are turning and Autumn has arrived, so in honour of this return to reality we bring you a show about the everyday, the mundane, the quotidian in literature. As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest, and this month we’ll be playing a recording of a live interview Carrie did with the celebrated Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard a couple weeks ago at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Knausgaard is best known for his epic My Struggle series, but he was in town...


Literary Friction - The Silver Screen With Dana Spiotta

Ever since the Lumière brothers showed their 1895 film of a train pulling into a station, we have been captivated by the silver screen, and this month’s show is an ode to what happens when cinema and literature cross paths. We interviewed award-winning American novelist Dana Spiotta about her latest book, Innocents and Others, which tells the story of two friends who are both filmmakers, and the stress their relationship suffers when an enigmatic woman named Jelly comes into their lives. As...


Literary Friction - Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Kishani Widyaratna

This month we're discussing a subject that isn't covered enough: race in Britain. Our brilliant author/guest is Reni Eddo-Lodge, who came in to talk about her first book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, a vital and passionate look at this country's long and complicated relationship with structural racism. We're also thrilled to be joined in the conversation by Kishani Widyaratna, from Picador and The White Review.


Literary Friction - Conversations With Sally Rooney

We have a very meta show for you this month: the theme is conversation, so we’ll be talking about writing about talking, from the conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities to the pithy dialogue in Bridget Jones’ Diary. You could even say that it’s a conversation about… conversations! As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest Sally Rooney, whose excellent debut novel Conversations with Friends tells the story of two female friends and former...


Literary Friction - Essays With Brian Dillon

The literary essay is a slippery and expansive form, and has encompassed everything from an attempt to define the word ‘camp’ to a dispatch from a cruise ship. This month we interview writer Brian Dillon about his forthcoming book, Essayism – a collection of essays about essays and an ode to the form in all its machinations. We also discuss some of our favourite essay writers including Michel de Montaigne, Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace, plus all the usual recommendations.