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World Book Club

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London, United Kingdom




World Book Club invites the globe's great authors to discuss their best known novel. This monthly programme, presented by Harriett Gilbert, includes questions from World Service listeners.




Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture

This month World Book Club is celebrating its 15th birthday and has come to where it all began – in September 2002 - The Edinburgh Book Festival, to talk to Irish literary superstar Sebastian Barry about his poignant and much garlanded novel The Secret Scripture. Now in her hundredth year Roseanne McNulty, once the most beautiful girl in County Sligo, has long been locked up in an mental asylum for reasons which gradually become clear as she decides to put down a secret record of her...

Duration: 00:49:59

Delphine de Vigan - No and Me

With an IQ that’s off-the-scale and a hyper-active mind 13-year-old Lou feels out of place amongst the beautiful, confident teenagers in her class. She finds no comfort at home as her mother is in the throes of a profound depression. Her life changes when she meets No, an older homeless girl, whom she immediately feels an affinity with. Along with a classmate, Lucas, Lou tries to help No to build a life away from the streets. However, No's emotional scars run deep and she pushes Lou's...

Duration: 00:49:37

Tim Winton - Cloudstreet

This month World Book Club is talking to chart-topping Australian writer Tim Winton about his unforgettable novel Cloudstreet. Winner of the Miles Franklin Award and recognised as one of the greatest works of Australian literature, Cloudstreet is Tim Winton's sprawling, comic epic about luck and love, fortitude and forgiveness, and the magic of the everyday. Precipitated by separate personal tragedies, two poor families flee their rural homes to share a "great continent of a house",...

Duration: 00:49:21

Jeffrey Archer - Kane and Abel

This month World Book Club is in the BBC Radio Theatre and is talking to one of the most popular and widely read British novelists, Jeffrey Archer, about his stunningly successful novel Kane and Abel. William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless Polish immigrant are two ambitious men born on the same day on opposite sides of the world. Their paths are destined to cross in the ruthless struggle to build a fortune and an empire. Fuelled...

Duration: 00:49:11

Derek Walcott - Omeros

This month we mark the recent death of the St Lucian poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott with another chance to hear him talk-on-the-programme about his poetic masterpiece, the book-length Omeros. Following the wanderings of an extraordinary cast of characters from the island of St Lucia, Omeros echoes Homer’s ancient-Greek epic of war and love and deadly rivalry, the Iliad, in order to dramatise the lives, sufferings, displacements and conflicts of the inhabitants of today’s...

Duration: 00:49:59

Robert Harris - Imperium

This month World Book Club visits the Oxford Literary Festival in the elegant surroundings of Worcester College, part of the university and is talking to the hugely popular British author Robert Harris with an audience about the first of his bestselling Roman trilogy, Imperium. The setting is Ancient Rome, a city teeming with ambitious and ruthless men, but none more brilliant than a rising young lawyer Marcus Cicero who decides to gamble all on one of the most dramatic courtroom battles...

Duration: 00:49:22

Joël Dicker - The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

This month World Book Club are once again part of The Hay Literary Festival in Cartagena, Colombia. Harriett Gilbert and a Festival audience talk to the acclaimed Swiss writer Joël Dicker about his gripping and chart-topping novel The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. A famous American writer suddenly finds himself the main suspect in a 30 year-old cold case in his sleepy home town in New England. His former student, a novelist desperate for material, appears as his only saviour. The...

Duration: 00:48:50

Laura Restrepo - Delirium

This month World Book Club are lucky enough to be in the beautiful old city of Cartagena in Colombia as part of the Cartagena Hay Festival of Literature. Harriett Gilbert will be talking to one of Colombia’s most acclaimed writers Laura Restrepo about her haunting novel Delirium and learning something about this stunning country’s troubled recent past. Returning home after a business trip to discover his beloved wife Agustina has gone mad her kindly husband Aguliar delves back into her...

Duration: 00:49:34

Karl Ove Knausgaard - A Death in the Family

We talk to the acclaimed Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard about A Death in the Family, volume one of his remarkable series of memoirs My Struggle. Knausgaard writes with painful honesty about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and dangerously unpredictable father, and then his bewilderment and grief on his father's death. Becoming a father himself, he must balance the demands of...

Duration: 00:49:00

Margaret Drabble - The Millstone

This month World Book Club is talking to the acclaimed British writer Margaret Drabble about her remarkable novel The Millstone. At a time when illegitimacy is taboo, Rosamund Stacey is pregnant after a one-night stand. Despite her independence and academic brilliance, she is naïve and unworldly and the choices before her are daunting. She must adapt to life as a single mother, but in the perfection and helplessness of her baby she finds a depth of feeling she has never known before. The...

Duration: 00:49:31

Crime and Punishment

Russian writer Dostoyevsky’s haunting classic thriller, Crime and Punishment, is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. Consumed by the idea of his own special destiny, Rashkolnikov is drawn to commit a terrible crime. In the aftermath, he is dogged by madness, guilt and a calculating detective, and a feverish cat-and-mouse game unfolds. Speaking on behalf of the novel are acclaimed Russian writer Boris Akunin and Russian scholar Dr Sarah Young who will be discussing this timeless...

Duration: 00:49:23

Anne Enright - The Gathering

This month World Book Club talks to the acclaimed Irish writer Anne Enright about her poignant Booker Prize-winning novel The Gathering. In it Veronica, one of the nine surviving Hegarty siblings, is bringing her brother Liam home to Dublin to bury. He walked to his death in the sea in Brighton, his brain muddled by drink, his pockets filled with stones. As the Hegarty clan gathers to mourn at Liam’s funeral Veronica retraces the troubled history and the murky family secrets that have...

Duration: 00:49:31

DBC Pierre - Vernon God Little

Harriett Gilbert talks to the hugely acclaimed writer DBC Pierre about his best-selling first novel Vernon God Little. An absurdly humorous look at the misadventures of a Texas teen named Vernon Little whose best friend has just killed 16 of their classmates and himself. In the wake of the tragedy, the townspeople seek both answers and vengeance; because Vernon was the killer's closest friend, he becomes the focus of their fury. Hailed by the critics and lauded by readers for its riotous...

Duration: 00:49:59

Juan Gabriel Vasquez - The Sound of Things Falling

We talking to acclaimed Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vasquez about his dark and compelling novel The Sound of Things Falling. Vasquez explores the recent tortured history of his home country through a complex interweaving of personal stories and confronts the disastrous consequences of the war between the drugs cartels and government forces which played out so violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. After witnessing a friend’s murder, Antonio discovers the many ways in...

Duration: 00:49:59

Tan Twan Eng - The Garden of Evening Mists

This month we’re in The Book Lounge Bookshop in Cape Town, South Africa and talking to the Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng about his Man Asian Literary Prize-winning novel, The Garden of Evening Mists. This haunting tale, set in the jungles of Malaya during and after World War II, centres on Yun Ling, the sole survivor of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in which her sister perished. Driven by the desire to honour her sister’s memory through the creation of a lush and sensuous garden Yun...

Duration: 00:49:27

Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre

To celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, World Book Club travels back to Victorian England to discuss her captivating and enduring tale, Jane Eyre with writer Tracy Chevalier and biographer Claire Harman in a packed BBC Radio Theatre. The novel traces the fortunes of a young orphaned girl searching for a sense of belonging and identity in a hostile world, plagued by both gender and social inequality. Weaving together the sweeping romance between Jane and Mr Rochester, a...

Duration: 00:49:21

Nuruddin Farah - Maps

This month, as part of the World Service’s Identity Season, World Book Club is in Cape Town, home of acclaimed Somali writer Nuruddin Farah, where we’ll be talking to him about his novel, Maps. This moving and dramatic book is the first of three novels which make up Nuruddin Farah’s Blood in the Sun trilogy. Maps traces the journey of a young orphaned boy, Askar, who is taken under the wing of a loving surrogate mother, Misra. Set in both Somalia and Ethiopia with an ever looming backdrop of...

Duration: 00:50:39

Judith Kerr - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

This month we talk to the much-loved German-born, British author and illustrator Judith Kerr about her classic children’s novel, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Set during World War Two, this semi-autobiographical novel traces the story of a young Jewish girl and her family who flee Berlin just as the Nazis come to power. The journey of a family splintered by conflict, driven by fear and eventually rewarded with reunion is seen through the eyes of the nine-year-old Anna. Judith Kerr’s novel,...

Duration: 00:49:16

Cees Nooteboom - The Following Story

This quixotic ‘novel of ideas’ blends philosophical reflection with the haunting tale of Herman Mussert, a retired, outmoded ancient language teacher preoccupied with Classical antiquity. After falling asleep one evening in Amsterdam, he mysteriously wakes the next morning in a hotel room in Lisbon where he slept with another man’s wife twenty years earlier. From here Mussert embarks on an enigmatic journey of the mind, contemplating passion, death, wisdom and disillusionment. Presented by...

Duration: 00:49:30

Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love

American writer Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her phenomenally successful novel Eat, Pray, Love. On a self-confessed ‘search for everything', Eat, Pray, Love charts the year in which Elizabeth Gilbert, aged 34, left behind her unfulfilling marriage, a volatile fling and life as she knew it, to embark on a spiritual voyage of discovery. The memoir brings together humour, eccentricity and honesty as the author documents the trials and triumphs of her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia...

Duration: 00:49:59

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