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Episodes

Literary Friction Special - Sally Rooney

10/16/2018
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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!

Duration:01:00:35

Literary Friction - High Society with Patrick deWitt

10/3/2018
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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...

Duration:00:58:34

Literary Friction - Rest & Relaxation with Ottessa Moshfegh

9/5/2018
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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...

Duration:00:58:06

Literary Friction - A Spoonful Of Sugar With Leila Slimani

1/23/2018
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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...

Duration:00:54:36

Literary Friction - Novellas with Cynan Jones

12/5/2017
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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.

Duration:01:01:55

Literary Friction - Shame With Pajtim Statovci

11/7/2017
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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...

Duration:00:58:53

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

10/4/2017
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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...

Duration:00:54:51

Literary Friction - The Everyday with Karl Ove Knausgaard

9/5/2017
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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...

Duration:01:07:32

Literary Friction - The Silver Screen With Dana Spiotta

8/10/2017
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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....

Duration:01:03:33

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

7/13/2017
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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.

Duration:01:03:54

Literary Friction - Conversations With Sally Rooney

6/14/2017
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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...

Duration:01:05:39

Literary Friction - Essays With Brian Dillon

5/16/2017
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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.

Duration:01:01:03

Literary Friction - Medicine with David France and Sarah Moss

4/20/2017
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From Thomas Mann to Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, library shelves heave with stories about the struggle to understand and overcome illness. This month, we've teamed up with The Wellcome Book Prize, which celebrates literature that engages with the topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives. We interviewed two of the authors on their excellent shortlist: David France, whose narrative history How to Survive a Plague is a riveting and devastating first-hand account...

Duration:00:58:45

Literary Friction - Immigrants With Julianne Pachico

3/23/2017
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It seems the Western world has begun to eat itself, so in defiance, this month we bring you a show celebrating the rich diversity of immigrants in literature. From Vladamir Nabokov to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, immigrant writers have been getting the job expertly done for a very long time. Our guest is Julianne Pachico, a Colombian-American writer whose debut book The Lucky Ones is a collection of linked stories set in Colombia and New York. Just push play to hear Julianne's take on the...

Duration:01:00:56

Literary Friction - Illustrations With Sara Baume

3/3/2017
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Do illustrations have a place in the novel? Pictures were commonplace in nineteenth-century books by authors like Thackeray and Dickens, and yet today almost all grown-up fiction is devoid of any illustrations, with a few notable exceptions including the work of W.G. Sebald and Douglas Coupland. Should a case be made for bringing them back? Our guest is the Irish writer Sara Baume whose first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither has won and been shortlisted for a whole host of prizes,...

Duration:00:56:57

Literary Friction - Short Stories With Jessie Greengrass

1/27/2017
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The short story is literature in a single shot, and the form has many masters, from Guy de Maupassant to Edgar Allan Poe to Lorrie Moore to Junot Diaz. This month join us in conversation about what a short story actually is, how to write a good one, and who writes them best. We interviewed Jessie Greengrass about her wonderful debut collection, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, which was published last year by John Murray Press. Pull up a chair and...

Duration:00:57:01

Literary Friction - Future Sex With Emily Witt

1/5/2017
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Baby, it's cold outside, so come and warm your cockles with us as we talk FUTURE SEX. Writer Emily Witt joined us all the way from America to talk about her ace debut of the same name - a personal and journalistic exploration of the possibilities of free love in today’s world. We’ll also be talking about how writers from have helped us to imagine the future of sex, sexuality and relationships. Bring an open mind and come along for the ride.

Duration:00:58:38

Literary Friction - Resistance with Salena Godden

12/5/2016
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Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the next United States, and we are despairing. But we’re also preparing: this worldwide trend towards the normalisation of misogyny, racism, xenophobia and blatant disregard for truth demands action. What can we do? And what can books do? This show is about resistance, and we are joined by the perfect guest: Salena Godden, poet, author, essayist, performer, once described as ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’. She recently...

Duration:00:59:04

Literary Friction - Bohemian Rhapsody With Eimear McBride

11/3/2016
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This month we're joined by the celebrated Irish author Eimear McBride, who came in to discuss her fabulous second novel The Lesser Bohemians. In honour of the book's title, this show is all about La Vie Boheme. From the original Parisian bohos of the 1850s, to the Pre-Raphaelites, to the beats, the bohemian lifestyle and its artistic output has always held romantic sway in our culture. Listen in as we chat to Eimear and talk about what it really means to be a modern bohemian.

Duration:00:57:29

Literary Friction - The Death Of America With Gary Younge

10/17/2016
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Each week we seem to get more news about violent deaths in America. What is it with America and violence, America and guns? And what can books tell us about it? Our guest this month is Gary Younge, author, broadcaster, and award-winning columnist for the Guardian, whose latest book is Another Day in the Death of America. A moving and important meditation on the violent reality of life in the US, it tells the stories of 10 children who died from gun violence in America on a random day in...

Duration:00:59:06