Posts tagged Literary Fiction
Episode 90: Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a physician and writer. I read Chaya’s short story collection White Dancing Elephants this spring and really enjoyed it, both because of the way it centered South Asian and women’s stories, and for the complex, complicated relationships at the heart of each story. In our conversation, Chaya and I talked about White Dancing Elephants; about Seamus Heaney, punishment, and complicity; and about whose stories get called “dark.” Then for the second segment, we talked about some of Chaya’s favorite poets, and why poetry is important to her.

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Episode 89: Julia Dixon Evans

Julia Dixon Evans is a writer based in San Diego, CA. I read Julia’s novel How to Set Yourself on Fire recently and was quite taken with her use of voice and the strong characterization of the story’s narrator, Sheila. In our conversation, Julia and I talked about her book, about experimenting with form as a writer, and about the question of likability. Then for the second segment we talked about trail running, and pushing yourself both physically and creatively.

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Episode 86: Lydia Kiesling

Lydia Kiesling is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Lydia’s debut novel, The Golden State, is a lot of things: a road trip story, an intimate portrayal of young parenthood, a portrait of a far-Northern California community, and more. In our conversation, Lydia and I talked about The Golden State, her nonfiction writing, and the relationship between the two forms. We also discussed the ephemerality of parenting experiences, the power of nostalgia, and what rural California is like. Then in the second segment, Lydia chose as her topic the lives of Marshall and Phyllis Hodgson.

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Episode 79: Rachel Lyon

Rachel Lyon is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Rachel’s debut novel Self-Portrait With Boy caught my attention for its complex depiction of a young artist in 1990’s Brooklyn, and the story has stuck with me in the months since I first read it. In our conversation, Rachel and I talked about the similarities between her novel and one of her earlier short stories, about the necessity of art in the contemporary world, and about the way her novel and its characters engage with questions of class. Then in the second segment, we talked about alcoholism and the role drinking plays in our culture.

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Episode 78: David Naimon

David Naimon is a writer and the host of the literature podcast Between the Covers, one of my absolute favorite podcasts. On his show, David brings a deep curiosity and impressive intellect to every conversation, making for some of the most engaging and in-depth interviews I’ve ever heard. In our conversation, David and I talked about the similarities and differences between our two shows, about the craft of interviewing, as well as about his own writing. Then in the second segment, David asked the question, is there a way for us as a society to change the way we tell stories that might enact change in our relationship to the natural world?

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Episode 38 (RERUN): Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor is a writer and graduate student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. One of my favorite contemporary writers, Brandon's short stories are marvelously crafted, understated and emotionally charged, while his personal essays and cultural critique are insightful and often lyrical—all of it is just a joy to read. In today's conversation, Brandon and I talked about his work and his process, how he often finds himself inventing around the margins of the stories he takes in, and how and why he always resists the reductive take. For the second segment, Brandon chose expectation as his topic, both the excitement and terror of one's own anticipation of the future, but also the expectations others can put on us.

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Episode 71: R. O. Kwon

R. O. Kwon's debut novel, The Incendiaries, was just released last week, and it's one of the best books I've read this year. In our conversation, we talked about her new book, who the first readers she has in mind are, the inherent unreliability of narrators, and how the characters invent themselves for each other. Then in the second segment, R. O. talked about her other passion: rock climbing.

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Episode 67: Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee is a writer based in New York. Earlier this year I read Min's latest novel, Pachinko, and it just blew me away. In our conversation, we talked about the book and it's journey to publication, and the importance of making art out of what's true. Then for the second segment we talked about persistence as a writer, dealing with rejection, and learning to be OK with looking foolish in the beginning.

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Episode 50: Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is the author of two novels, Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. I read the latter of the two last year and it was one of my favorite books of the year. I was pleased to get a chance to talk with Alexander about that book, as well as his essay "How to Write an Autobiographical Novel," which will be included in his forthcoming collection of the same name. In our wide-ranging conversation we also talked about the work of Joan Didion, as well as a surprising influence on the structure of The Queen of the Night. For the second segment, Alexander chose our current political moment as his topic, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates' recent essay "The First White President."

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Episode 48: Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is a writer based in Cambridge, MA. Celeste's first novel, 2014's Everything I Never Told You, is, without exaggeration, one of the most important books of my life. When I read it in 2016, it gave me my first real glimpse at what representation in fiction could mean, and it was revelatory. Celeste's newest novel, which was just released this week, is called Little Fires Everywhere, and I was thrilled to get the chance to talk with her about it. In our conversation we talked about both books, about the importance of representation in media and culture, our shared obsession with Hamilton, and about Celeste's fascination with family roles. For the second segment, Celeste talked about how she got over her phobia of octopuses.

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Episode 40: Rachel Hulin

Rachel Hulin is a photographer and writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. I first came to know Rachel's photographic work several years ago, and when I saw that she'd recently published her first novel, I snapped up a copy as quickly as I could. In our conversation we talked about her book, Hey Harry Hey Matilda, about working in multiple creative disciplines, and the differences between photography and writing. For the second segment, Rachel chose creative flow as her topic.

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Episode 38: Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor is a writer and a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One of my favorite contemporary writers, Brandon's short stories are marvelously crafted, understated and emotionally charged, while his personal essays and cultural critique are insightful and often lyrical—all of it is just a joy to read. In today's conversation, Brandon and I talked about his work and his process, how he often finds himself inventing around the margins of the stories he takes in, and how and why he always resists the reductive take. For the second segment, Brandon chose expectation as his topic, both the excitement and terror of one's own anticipation of the future, but also the expectations others can put on us.

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Episode 27: Lindsay Hatton

I knew that I was going to read Lindsay Hatton's debut novel, Monterey Bay, as soon as I saw the title—I grew up in that area, after all—and I was pleased to discover that between the covers of the book lay a story that is by turns funny, sexy, and profound, an alternate history of a place I know and love so well. I talked to Lindsay about her book, about our shared experiences growing up on the Monterey Peninsula, and a lot about John Steinbeck (both as a real-world literary figure and as a character in her book). In the second segment, we talked about how to navigate multiple modes of creative expression, parenting, and artistic legacy.

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Episode 22: Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang's debut novel The Border of Paradise is one of my favorite books so far this year. A multigenerational epic centered on an interracial family, the Nowaks, this book touches on so many profound topics, from mental illness to intergenerational trauma to culture clash to the very question of what it means to be a family, all done in stunningly beautiful prose. Esmé and I had a great conversation about her book in the first segment, and in the second segment we chatted about our favorite social media platform: Twitter.

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