The Book Review-logo

The Book Review

New York Times

The world's top authors and critics join host John Williams and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world.

The world's top authors and critics join host John Williams and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world.


New York, NY


The world's top authors and critics join host John Williams and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world.




Roaring Through Paris With ‘Kiki Man Ray’

Mark Braude’s new biography, “Kiki Man Ray,” visits a place of perennial interest — Left Bank Paris in the 1920s — through the life of the singer, model, memoirist and muse. On this week’s podcast, Braude says that his subject thoroughly captured the spirit of her age, “a mix of deep pain and a very deep love of life” that emerged after the First World War. We’re used to reading about this age, Braude says, through the eyes of Americans in Paris, like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Kiki...


Poems in Practice and in Theory

Elisa Gabbert, the Book Review's On Poetry columnist, visits the podcast this week to discuss writing about poetry and her own forthcoming collection of poems, her fourth, “Normal Distance.” “When I’m writing what I would call nonfiction or an essay or just pure prose, I’m really trying to be accurate,” Gabbert says. “I’m not lying, I’m really telling you what I think. There’s very minimal distance between my persona on the page and who I really am. And then when I’m writing poetry, that...

Chaos Among Spies After the Berlin Wall Crumbles

Dan Fesperman’s 13th thriller, “Winter Work,” is set just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, East Germany’s brutal Cold War intelligence service, was busy destroying evidence. The C.I.A. was just as busy trying to learn the enemy organization’s secrets. “The C.I.A., initially, had people calling ex-Stasi agents,” Fesperman says on this week’s podcast. “They got a hold of a directory with home phone numbers of some of these Stasi foreign intelligence people. And they started...


Diana Goetsch on ‘This Body I Wore’

The acclaimed poet Diana Goetsch has now published “This Body I Wore,” which our reviewer, Manuel Betancourt, called an “achingly beautiful memoir” about “a trans woman’s often vexed relationship with her own body.” On this week’s podcast, Goetsch talks about her approach to writing. “My assumption always, as a poet and as a writer, is — I’m a generalist. And I just think the most idiosyncratic thing about ourselves also happens to be the most universal, if we can get to it and present it...


‘Son of Elsewhere’ Recounts Life as a Young Immigrant

In “Son of Elsewhere,” Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes about growing up in Canada after moving there from Sudan when he was 12. On this week’s podcast, he talks about that experience, including his first interactions with his new peers. “This is not a story of bigotry, this is not a story of a classic playground bully,” Abdelmahmoud says. “Most of the demons I was wrestling with in this book were actually returning to the feelings of me needing to put certain parts of my identity on the shelf....


Alice Elliott Dark on ‘Fellowship Point’

In Alice Elliott Dark’s second novel, “Fellowship Point,” Agnes Lee and Polly Wister have been friends for about 80 years. Their intertwined families own homes on a Maine peninsula, and some of the book’s drama stems from their efforts to preserve the land and keep it out of the hands of developers. “The issue of land, land ownership, land conservation has always been of deep interest to me,” Dark says on this week’s podcast. “I came to that pretty quickly as I was developing this story. I...


A Novel About Brilliant Young Game Designers

Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” is set in the world of video game design, and follows two friends named Sadie and Sam as they collaborate on what becomes a very successful game. “A friend of mine described the book as being what it’s like to co-parent something that’s not a child,” Zevin says on this week’s podcast. “Sam and Sadie, they are more intimate with each other than anyone else in their lives. Yet they aren’t spouses, and he’s not her child, and...


Sensing the World Anew Through Other Species

Ed Yong’s new book, “An Immense World,” urges readers to break outside their “sensory bubble” to consider the unique ways that dogs, dolphins, mice and other animals experience their surroundings. “I’ve often said that my beat is everything that is or was once alive, which covers billions of species, across basically the entirety of the planet’s history,” Yong says on this week’s podcast. “One thing I like about this particular topic — the sensory worlds of other animals — is that it,...


Jackie, Before Marrying Jack

Elisabeth Egan, an editor at the Book Review, curates our Group Text column — a monthly choice of a book that she feels is particularly well suited to book clubs and their discussions. On this week’s podcast, she talks about her latest pick: “Jackie & Me,” by Louis Bayard, which imagines the friendship between Jacqueline Bouvier and Lem Billings, a close friend of the Kennedys. “This is rooted in reality,” Egan says, “but Bayard runs with it and imagines conversations between Lem and...


Tom Perrotta on the Return of Tracy Flick

Few fictional characters in recent decades have been as intensely discussed as Tracy Flick. The ambitious teenage protagonist of Tom Perrotta’s novel “Election” (1998) and the ensuing film adaptation, starring Reese Witherspoon, has been reconsidered in recent years as misunderstood and unfairly maligned. On this week’s podcast, Perrotta talks about Tracy’s return in his new novel, “Tracy Flick Can’t Win.” “I think most people, when they think about Tracy Flick — I say this in all sad...


One Island, Two Men and Lots of Big Questions

Karen Jennings’s novel “An Island,” which was on the longlist for the Booker Prize in 2021, is set on a fictional unnamed island off the coast of Africa, where a man named Samuel has worked as a lighthouse keeper for more than 20 years. When a refugee washes up on shore one day, barely alive, Samuel navigates life around this stranger and flashes back to his own past, including his role in a political uprising and years that he spent in prison. On this week’s podcast, Jennings says that the...


Remembering the ‘Great Stewardess Rebellion’

With current-day labor movements at Amazon, Starbucks and other big employers in the news, Nell McShane Wulfhart is on the podcast this week to discuss her new book about a vivid moment in labor history, “The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched a Workplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet.” That revolution was launched in the face of working conditions that included contracts with onerous demands about every corner of a woman’s life. “The age restrictions and the marriage restrictions...


Brian Morton on ‘Tasha: A Son’s Memoir’

Brian Morton, an accomplished novelist, has turned to nonfiction for the first time in his new book, “Tasha: A Son’s Memoir.” On this week’s podcast, he discusses his mother’s life, the difficulties in taking care of her toward the end of her life and what led him to write a memoir. “I started writing a few pages about her, and I relished the freedom to write directly, to write without having to invent any characters,” Morton says. “I love to write about fictional characters, that’s my...


John Waters Talks About His First Novel

The filmmaker, artist, author and general cultural icon John Waters visits the podcast this week to talk about his first novel, “Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance.” The book features three generations of women in the Sprinkle family, and their very complicated (and antagonistic) relationships with one another. The first of them we meet is Marsha, an unrepentant thief and overall misanthrope; but Waters says he still wants us to root for her. “She’s so crazy and so terrible that you can’t...


Hernan Diaz on ‘Trust’ and Money in Fiction

Hernan Diaz’s second novel, “Trust,” is four books in one. Our reviewer, Michael Gorra, calls it “intricate, cunning and consistently surprising.” It starts with a novel inside the novel, about a man named Benjamin Rask, who builds and maintains a fortune in New York City as the 19th century gives way to the 20th. Diaz describes writing the uniquely structured book on this week’s podcast, and the ideas at its core. “Although wealth and money are so essential in the American narrative about...


Jennifer Egan Talks About 'The Candy House'

Jennifer Egan’s new novel, “The Candy House,” is a follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” A few characters appear in both books, but the novels are also united by Egan’s structural approach — an inventive one that, in “Goon Squad,” included a chapter written as a PowerPoint presentation, and in “The Candy House,” a chapter written as a long series of terse directives to a spy. On this week’s podcast, Egan talks about the new book, and about why she enjoys...


Liana Finck Reimagines the Story of Genesis

The cartoonist Liana Finck’s new book, “Let There Be Light,” recasts the story of Genesis with a female God who is a neurotic artist. “At the very beginning of this book, she’s existing in a void and she just decides to make something,” Finck says. “And it’s all fun and games until she starts to feel some self-doubt and realizes that she hasn’t done well enough. She’s really kind of a self-portrait of me at that point. She’s well-intentioned, she’s happy and she’s very hard on...


Elizabeth Alexander on 'The Trayvon Generation'

Elizabeth Alexander’s new book, “The Trayvon Generation,” grew out of a widely discussed essay of the same name that she wrote for The New Yorker in 2020. The book explores themes of race, class and justice and their intersections with art. On this week’s podcast, Alexander discusses the effects of video technology on our exposure to and understanding of violence and vulnerability, and contrasts the way her generation was brought up with the lives of younger people today. “If you think...


Fiction About Lives in Ukraine

While a steady stream of disturbing news continues to come from Ukraine, new works of fiction highlight the ways in which lives there have been transformed by conflict. On this week’s podcast, the critic Jennifer Wilson talks about two books, including the story collection “Lucky Breaks,” by Yevgenia Belorusets, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky. “Belorusets has been compared to Gogol in these stories,” Wilson says. “There’s a certain kind of supernatural quality to them. I think anyone...


Life in an E.R. During Covid

Thomas Fisher’s new book, “The Emergency,” details his life as an emergency physician at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he’s worked for 20 years. It provides an up-close look at a hospital during the pandemic, and also zooms out to address the systemic issues that afflict American health care. “This book was conceptualized prior to Covid,” Fisher says on this week’s podcast. “But Covid laid bare so much of what I intended to discuss from the beginning. So in some ways it...