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Literary Friction

Literary Friction

A monthly conversation about books and ideas on NTS Radio hosted by friends Carrie Plitt, a literary agent, and Octavia Bright, a writer and academic. Each show features an author interview, book recommendations, lively discussion and a little music too, all built around a related theme - anything from the novella to race to masculinity. Listen live on NTS Radio www.nts.live

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Literary Friction - Social Media with Kiley Reid

Has anyone written a great social media novel yet? Is Twitter destroying our ability to read novels in the first place? How worried should we be about bookstagrammers? Why are you listening to this podcast instead of reading a book? What even is the point of podcasting?? On this month?s show we?re asking these not at all panicked questions and talking about social media in literature. As usual, our theme has been inspired by our guest: Kiley Reid dropped by the studio to talk about her debut novel Such a Fun Age, a fun, sharp story about babysitting, racial politics, class and privilege. Listen in to hear our interview with Kiley, our thoughts about the theme of social media in literature, plus all the usual recommendations. Thankfully, we recorded with Kiley before Covid-19 travel restrictions came into play, and before the virus spread, so if you want an hour to escape into a time before reality got turned around then open your mind, ignore twitter - at least for the next hour - and focus all your attention on Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Social Media: Octavia: NW by Zadie Smith https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/303327/nw-by-zadie-smith/ Carrie: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/166486/super-sad-true-love-story-by-gary-shteyngart/9780812977868 General Recommendations: Octavia: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/306/306731/the-water-dancer/9780241325254.html Kiley: Jillian by Halle Butler https://www.weidenfeldandnicolson.co.uk/titles/halle-butler/jillian/9781474617581/ Carrie: In the Cut by Susanna Moore https://www.weidenfeldandnicolson.co.uk/titles/susanna-moore/in-the-cut/9781474613606/ Buy a tote! https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/758247545/literary-friction-canvas-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1 Email us: [email protected] Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador https://www.panmacmillan.com/picador
2020-03-17
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Literary Friction - Minisode Eleven

However you feel about Brexit, there?s no denying that it?s going to change the relationship that people in the UK have with the European Union and the twenty-seven countries that make it up. But we are not here to dwell in the misery of all that! One of the most beautiful things about literature is that, unless things get fully fascistic, no political machine can restrict your movement in your imagination. This minisode is a bit of a celebration of the European literature and culture we?ve loved, the stuff we want to read, and the power of reading to create and maintain connections where politics has failed us. So it?s Brexit, but make it optimistic? Tote bags: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/758247545/literary-friction-canvas-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1 Email us: [email protected] Twitter & Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador https://www.panmacmillan.com/picador
2020-03-04
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Literary Friction - On the Run with Eimear McBride

This month on Literary Friction we?re going on the run. Or, more accurately, we?ll be sitting still in the studio talking about literature that features characters and people who are running away both physically and psychologically, from Cora in Colson Whitehead?s The Underground Railroad, to Madame Bovary, to Augusten Burroughs and A.A. Gill. Our guest is Irish novelist Eimear McBride, who has come back on the show to talk about her third novel Strange Hotel, which follows an unnamed protagonist as she moves from hotel room to hotel room around the world, trying to forget her past, and the powerful allure of an untethered life. So, lace up your sneakers and jog along with us for the next hour of Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, On The Run: Octavia: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion https://www.thejoandidion.com/year-of-magical-thinking Carrie: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead https://www.hachette.co.uk/titles/colson-whitehead/the-underground-railroad/9780708898383/ General Recommendations: Octavia: Things I Don't Want to Know by Deborah Levy https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/253/253221/things-i-don-t-want-to-know/9780241983089.html Carrie: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/311/311140/girl--woman--other/9780241984994.html Eimear: Cleanness by Garth Greenwell https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/garth-greenwell/cleanness/9781509874637 Buy a tote! https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/758247545/literary-friction-canvas-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1 Email us: [email protected] Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador https://www.panmacmillan.com/picador
2020-02-18
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Minisode Ten

For the first minisode of 2020, we're wading into the gossipy world of TS Eliot's love life: this year marks the publication of his romantic letters to Emily Hale, fifty years after their deaths. If you missed the story in the press, let's just say it's not one in which he covered himself in glory. Listen in for our thoughts on literary fetishism, posthumous publications, and how to choose a wife that won't kill the poet in you, plus all the usual recommendations. Tote bags: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LiteraryFriction Twitter & Instagram: @litfricton This episode is sponsored by Picador: https://www.panmacmillan.com/picador
2020-02-04
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Literary Friction - New Beginnings With An Yu

Our first show of the year (and decade) is all about New Beginnings: from Virginia Woolf's novels to memoirs like Amy Liptrot?s The Outrun, we?ll look at books that feature rejuvenation, and think about why it's such fertile ground for storytelling. Joining us is author An Yu, whose thoughtful and surreal debut novel Braised Pork inspired the theme. It tells the story of Jia Jia, a young artist in contemporary Beijing who, after the abrupt death of her husband, must begin her life again. Listen in for our chat with An, who stopped by the studio to talk about starting over, the power of enigmatic symbols, and why we need stories to make sense of the world around us, plus all the usual recommendations. It?s good to be back! Recommendations on the theme, New Beginnings: Octavia: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/316782/days-without-end-by-sebastian-barry/ Carrie: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan https://serpentstail.com/washington-black.html General Recommendations: Octavia: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan https://www.weidenfeldandnicolson.co.uk/titles/naoise-dolan/exciting-times/9781474613477/ Carrie: Kudos by Rachel Cusk https://www.faber.co.uk/9780571346646-kudos.html An: Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/103/1035933/village-of-stone/9780099459071.html Buy a tote! https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/758247545/literary-friction-canvas-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1 Email us: [email protected] Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador https://www.panmacmillan.com/picador
2020-01-21
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Literary Friction - In Therapy With Ben Lerner

For our last show of the year, we?re going into therapy - or, more accurately, we?ll be talking about therapy?s intersection with literature. Does analysis make good fiction? Do therapists make good characters, or good authors? What has the language of psychology given to literature? We?re very happy that the inspiration for today?s topic is our guest, Ben Lerner, whose third novel The Topeka School is a brilliant meditation on family, psychology, toxic masculinity, whiteness and American life, told through the lens of one man?s coming of age in Topeka, Kansas in the 90s, where Ben himself was born. So, lay down on the couch and do the work with us for the next hour on Literary Friction, and we'll catch up with you in the new decade. Happy holidays, everyone! Recommendations on the theme, In Therapy: Octavia: Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-century Paris by Asti Hustvedt https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/medical-muses-9780747576334/ Carrie: The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz https://www.stephengrosz.com/the-examined-life/ General Recommendations: Octavia: Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/year-of-the-monkey-9781526614759/ Ben: The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691178325/the-mushroom-at-the-end-of-the-world Carrie: The Past by Tessa Hadley https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062270429/the-past/ Buy a tote! https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/758247545/literary-friction-canvas-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1&crt=1 Email us: [email protected] Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
2019-12-19
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Minisode Nine: Year In Review

It?s our last minisode of 2019, so we're looking back over some of our favourite reads of the year, some of our resolutions for 2020, plus the usual cultural recommendations - so, if you need some inspiration for what books to buy people for Christmas then grab a pen! Also, here?s your annual reminder to support your local independent bookshop instead of ordering everything online. An update on our lovely, fair trade cotton tote bags: we now have an Etsy shop where you can buy them! The link is below, all the money we make from the sales goes back into making the show bigger and better, so please get one for all your friends. Finally, thank you for listening and for another brilliant year of Literary Friction. Happy holidays everyone! See you on the flipside. Tote bags: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LiteraryFriction Twitter & Instagram: @litfriction Email us: [email protected]
2019-12-11
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Literary Friction - Returning with Elizabeth Strout

From William Faulkner to John Updike, and Hilary Mantel to Margaret Atwood, why do authors return to the same characters and places again and again? What can a trilogy do that a solo book can?t? And why do we get so excited (and nervous) about these returns? To help us answer these questions, this month we have a very special guest: the inimitable, Pulitzer prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout. Her latest novel, Olive, Again, is a return to the complicated character of Olive Kitteridge and her community in Crosby, Maine. Recommendations on the theme, Returning: Octavia: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1110035/everything-under/9781784702113.html Carrie: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld http://www.curtissittenfeld.com/books/eligible/buy-the-book/ General Recommendations: Octavia: Be My Guest by Priya Basil https://canongate.co.uk/books/3072-be-my-guest-reflections-on-food-community-and-the-meaning-of-generosity/ Elizabeth: Tolstoy by Henri Troyat and Tolstoy by A.N. Wilson https://groveatlantic.com/book/tolstoy/; https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9780393321227 Carrie: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/118610/hateship-friendship-courtship-loveship-marriage-by-alice-munro/ Email us: [email protected] Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction
2019-11-26
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Literary Friction - Minisode Eight

For Minisode Eight we were inspired by a question podcaster Isaac Butler asked on Twitter, which was: What?s a Great Book that you read because it was assigned to you that you actually loved? We also asked: Which were the books that really did it for you at school or university? Did you like being set reading, or rebel against it? And were there any books you had to read that almost turned you off for good? Plus all the usual recommendations.
2019-11-12
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Literary Friction - Live at Cheltenham Festival

This show is a little different from usual as we?re coming to you from the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where we were this year?s podcast in residence. This jam-packed special features recordings from both the events we chaired: ?A Body of Work? with Karen Havelin and Eleanor Thom, in which we discussed their books Please Read This Leaflet Carefully and Private Parts, including how to write about chronic/persistent pain, and endometriosis; and ?Me Too in Fiction?, where we spoke to Rosie Price and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen about their books What Red Was and Liar, which deal with sexual assault and its aftermath in very different ways. Plus: voxpops from Max Porter, Candice Carty-Williams, Wana Udobang and Sinéad Gleeson, who all told us what they?d read and loved recently; and our utter glee at discovering the back seat of a car makes an excellent makeshift recording studio, steamed up windows and all. It?s full of the good stuff to warm you up as the nights draw in.
2019-10-30
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Literary Friction - City of Voices with Zadie Smith

This month's show is called City of Voices in honour of our very esteemed guest, author Zadie Smith. We met Zadie for a live event in Sheffield to talk about her first short story collection, Grand Union, a playful, ambitious symphony of different voices, styles and forms. Listen in to hear about why we should all embrace our inner chaos, the ways our voices get co-opted by Big Technology, and for a more general chat about literature by authors like William Faulkner and Yaa Gyasi that encompasses a range of different voices. Plus, of course, all the usual recommendations.
2019-10-07
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Literary Friction - Vanity with Deborah Levy

Do you consider yourself a vain person? Because this month is all about vanity in literature, dedicated to those characters who are just a little bit too pleased with themselves. It's also our first full show back this Autumn, and we are thrilled to kick things off with none other than the inimitable Deborah Levy, who joined us for a live event at Foyles in London to talk about her latest novel, The Man Who Saw Everything. It features a beautiful, vain, frustrating, intriguing, ultimately very human protagonist, and slips through time with Lynchian abandon. So whether you're a Dorian or a Narcissus, or a paragon of humble virtue, join us for the next hour for all the usual conversation and recommendations on Literary Friction.
2019-09-25
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Minisode Seven

Hello! We're back! We missed you! Welcome to Minisode Seven, in which we make an excited return to the studio and catch up on what we got up to over our summer break. Before all that, though, we want to play you some of an ace live event Octavia did with authors Jia Tolentino and Emilie Pine, discussing their brilliant essay collections, Trick Mirror and Notes To Self. Sadly you can only hear the first half of it because there were ghosts in the machine (technical meltdown), but it was a fascinating conversation so we still think it's worth it. We also have some really exciting stuff lined up for this autumn: a live event with none other than Zadie Smith; the launch of some very stylish LF merch; and we are the podcast in residence at Cheltenham Literary Festival this year. So, listen in for Jia, Emilie, new news, old news, the usual recommendations and, as ever, a little music too. It's good to be back!
2019-09-17
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RERUN Literary Friction - Down the Rabbit Hole with Kevin Barry

We're still on our summer break, but we didn't want to leave you totally bereft of literary friction, here's a little something from the archive. In Spring 2016 we spoke to Kevin Barry about his novel Beatlebone, and in celebration of his place on this year's Booker Prize longlist (for his latest novel Nightboat to Tangier) we thought we'd re-run the episode. Beatlebone is a wonderful novel about a very famous John's quest to reach a tiny island that he owns in Clew Bay, off the West Coast of Ireland. Inspired by his trip, our theme is 'down the rabbit hole', dedicated to all those literary escapes to the ends of the earth and to the centre of the mind. We'll be following that elusive rabbit's fluffy tail and lighting out for the territory with Huck Finn, breaking out of jail with the Count of Monte Cristo, and getting lost in all kids of mythical adventures. Come along for the ride, and enjoy a bit of time travel into the world of our younger selves - our equipment was a lot less pro in those days!
2019-08-07
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Literary Friction Special - Ocean Vuong

For our last show before we take our summer break, we bring you this author special with poet and novelist Ocean Vuong, who was over from the States to talk about his novel On Earth We?re Briefly Gorgeous. Carrie was on holiday so Octavia flew solo for a long interview with Ocean where they talked about submission as power, queer narratives, acceptance over forgiveness, the subversive potential of fragmented storytelling, the violence of parental love and a whole lot more. We?ll be back in September with an exciting Autumn programme, and we?ll put out some shows from the archive in the meantime so you can still get your LF fix. Until then, have a wonderful summer everyone!
2019-07-10
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Minisode Six

Are you a re-reader? Do you have any comfort books that you return to over and over? Have you ever recommended a book and then realised you can?t remember what happens in it? Have you ever picked up a book and got halfway through before realising you've read it before? (One of us may have some confessions to make). Minisode Six is about re-reading - how we do it, if we do it, why we do it. We also have some announcements: we're about to take a summer break but we'll be back in 2 weeks with an author special featuring Ocean Vuong, and then we?ll be resting our voices til September and working on building our website and putting together a great autumn programme. But don?t worry! We?ll be re-running old shows from our archive in the meantime.
2019-06-26
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Literary Friction - Pain with Sinéad Gleeson

From Virginia Woolf to Susan Sontag, writers have grappled with how difficult it is to both describe and understand the pain of others. This month we?re going to examine that phenomenon, but also look at some of the writers who have captured the experience of pain in a unique and interesting way. One of those writers is Sinéad Gleeson, whose personal essay collection Constellations thoughtfully explores the way pain of all kinds - physical, emotional, political - can shape a life, and also be the catalyst for finding new ways of expressing the self. So, join us for the next hour as we try to face this challenging universal experience. Email us: [email protected] Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, Pain: Octavia: Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/571/57150/good-morning--midnight/9780141183930.html Carrie: Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/545/54582/regarding-the-pain-of-others/9780141012377.html General Recommendations: Octavia: Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/andrea-lawlor/paul-takes-the-form-of-a-mortal-girl/9781529007664 Carrie: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi https://serpentstail.com/trust-exercise.html
2019-06-11
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Minisode Five

Isn?t this beautiful weather we?re having? Doesn?t it make you feel like running sand between your fingers and toes? Now that summer is very much on the horizon, we?re dedicating this minisode to the joys of beach reads, so stay tuned for some optimistic fantasising about long, sunny days with nothing to do but read and snooze and swim and eat, and our thoughts about what makes the perfect - or the worst - beach read.
2019-05-29
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Literary Friction - The Science Of Bias With Jennifer Eberhardt

We know that literature - like all culture - is biased, but can books also be a way of recognising and combating stereotypes? Our guest, Dr Jennifer Eberhardt, is widely considered one of the world?s leading experts on racial bias, and her new book Biased is a comprehensive look at the science of unconscious bias and how it affects our society. With this show, we?re continuing our conversation about race and literature that we started with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Kishani Widyaratna in 2017 (you can find that show in our archive). Specifically, we're looking at racial bias: what it is, how it damages our society, and if there's anything we can do about it. So, join us for the next hour as we try to further decolonise our minds. Email us: [email protected] Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, The Science of Bias: Octavia: Swing Time by Zadie Smith https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/565/56513/swing-time/9780141036601.html Carrie: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2016/invisible-man-by-ralph-ellison/ General Recommendations: Octavia: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/layli-long-soldier/whereas/9781529012804 Carrie: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/lisa-taddeo/work/three-women Jennifer: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/224792/just-mercy-by-bryan-stevenson/9780812984965/
2019-05-15
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Literary Friction - Minisode Four

On Minisode Four we're thinking about our literary guilty pleasures - those books we might not want people to know we read, because we fear their judgement, or maybe we even judge ourselves a little for enjoying them. Basically it?s all about shame! Have you ever hidden the cover of what you?re reading so no one will know? Is there anything you?ve been embarrassed to buy in a bookshop? Are there books on your shelves that you hide when people come round? Listen in for some secrets and revelations, plus some cultural stuff we've been into lately. Recommendations: Fleabag https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p070npjv/fleabag The Dropout http://abcradio.com/podcasts/the-dropout/ Uh https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/tracks/n5xv42 The Other Side of the Sea https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/contemporary/heloise-werner-the-hermes-experiment/
2019-04-30
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Literary Friction - Poetry With Hannah Sullivan

In the words of celebrated Canadian poet Anne Carson, ?if prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it?. Whether you?re into Frank O?Hara or Emily Dickinson, Audre Lorde or e. e. cummings, Walt Whitman or Sylvia Plath, we?ve got something for you in this poetry-themed show. Our guest is poet and academic Hannah Sullivan, who joined us to talk about her evocative debut collection, Three Poems, which explores the intimacies and intricacies of life, from sex and love and being young in New York, to the birth of a son, and the death of a father. So, come get lyrical with us and we might even drop some rhyming couplets over the next hour on Literary Friction. Email us: [email protected] Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, Poetry: Octavia: Witch by Rebecca Tamás http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2019/01/rebecca-tamas/ Carrie: Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara https://groveatlantic.com/book/meditations-in-an-emergency/ General Recommendations: Octavia: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite https://atlantic-books.co.uk/book/my-sister-the-serial-killer/ Carrie: Terrific Mother by Lorrie Moore https://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/product/view/id/7029/s/9780571351831-terrific-mother/ Hannah: A Compass Error by Sybille Bedford https://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/product/book/a-compass-error/
2019-04-17
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Literary Friction - Minisode Three

The writer Laura Relyea recently tweeted the question ?What books are automatic red flags for you with people?? and it got over 12,000 likes and 4,100 responses. We thought we'd stick our oars in as well, so join us for Minisode Three, in which we get into red flags, literary snobbery, books as cultural capital, and whether it's ever ok to judge a person by their reading habits.
2019-04-02
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Literary Friction - Migration With Valeria Luiselli

In a world increasingly dominated by xenophobia and wall-building, this month we wanted to look to the books that cross borders instead. So our theme for this show is migration in literature, from the novels of John Steinbeck to Zadie Smith. We've been wanting to talk about this for a while, and we waited for the perfect author guest to explore this with us. We spoke to award-winning Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, whose latest novel Lost Children Archive is about both a road trip one family takes across America, and child migrants on the US/Mexico border. So, come and tear down walls with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
2019-03-26
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Literary Friction Special - Yelena Moskovich Live At Jewish Book Week

We're thrilled to bring you this podcast special: a recording of our live interview with author Yelena Moskovich at Jewish Book Week. We talked about Yelena?s second novel, Vituoso, queer identities, crossing boundaries and disobedient women of the ex-Soviet diaspora, amongst many other topics. Enjoy!
2019-03-19
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Literary Friction - Minisode Two

We?re very pleased to report that Minisode One went down really well so we're back with another one for your pleasure. Last time we talked about books we hated, so this month we decided to get into characters we love. But, like, love love: we explored our literary crushes - from Behemoth the cat to Virginia Woolf - and the intimacy of reading. So tune in for chat about literary desire, and to hear what other cultural things got our pulses racing lately.
2019-03-05
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Literary Friction - Brothers With Claire Adam

From Cain and Abel, to the Brothers Karamazov, to Fred and George Weasley, the pages of literature have been filled with memorable brothers. This month, we?ll be talking about our favourite fraternal pairs, and thinking about why siblings, with their love and rivalries, remain so evocative in books. As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest, Claire Adam, whose first novel Golden Child is a thrilling story about twin brothers growing up in Trinidad, and the very different paths their lives take. So, stay with us for the next hour for some brotherly love!
2019-02-20
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Literary Friction - Minisode One

Welcome to our first ever minisode! We?ve wanted to bring you more literary friction for a while, so thought we?d follow the lead of some of our favourite podcasts and put out a mini episode in between full shows. This month things got a bit salty as we talked about books we hated. We also moved beyond the literary realm and recommended other cultural things that have filled us with joy. So, if you fancy a little more informal chat, then just push play.
2019-02-05
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Literary Friction - Into The Woods With Luke Turner

Are the woods a joyous escape from the morals and prying eyes of polite society, or a dark and forbidding place where no-one is safe? Or both? How is the forest in literature changing as the forests in our world disappear? This month we?re going into the woods, looking at literary forests from Shakespeare to Sondheim to Lovecraft and beyond. Our theme is inspired by our guest Luke Turner, editor of The Quietus, whose memoir Out of the Woods is a beautiful and frank examination of sexuality, love, religion, and London?s Epping Forest. We also have some news: next month we're launching our first ever minisode! So if you'd like more of us wanging on about books and maybe telling you some secrets, you are in luck. But for now, relax under a canopy of green and join us as we try to see the wood for the trees on Literary Friction.
2019-01-22
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Literary Friction - Year in review with Ann Wroe

In honour of the arrival of 2019, this month we?ll be looking back at the last year in books, discussing what we most enjoyed, and looking forward to what we'll be reading in the next year. ?But wait!?, you say. ?I wanted an author interview!? Don?t worry - we?ve got you covered, and what a gift it is (come on, bear with us, it's just after Christmas). We talked to author Ann Wroe, whose latest book Francis: A Life in Song is an unusual, beautiful, moving portrait through poetry of the life of St. Francis of Assisi and his resonance today. It?s an unusual and wonderful book, which has had glowing reviews, and it?s a perfect way to cap off the year on Literary Friction.
2019-01-05
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Literary Friction - Masculinity with Thomas Page McBee

What makes a man? Why do men fight? Is there a crisis of masculinity? These are some of the questions that authors from Ernest Hemingway to Grayson Perry have asked, and questions that Thomas Page McBee addresses head on in his searching, beautiful and wise second book Amateur, the true story of his quest to become the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Once a 'masculinity expert' for Vice, his essays and reportage have appeared in the New York Times, Playboy, Glamour, and Salon. We spoke to Thomas about Amateur, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize, and the need to drastically redefine what masculinity really means in contemporary culture. So if you want to learn what it really means to be a man, just push play.
2018-11-29
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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. If you?re curious about what we look for in art about the past, and have ever wondered if historical novels really have to be true to history, press play and join us.
2018-10-31
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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!
2018-10-16
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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 from New York to Paris when their money runs out. Accompanying them is their cat in whom the body of Frances' dead ex-husband resides, along with, eventually, a medium, a French private investigator and a lonely sycophant. If that sounds absurd and funny - it is! So grab your champagne coup and stay with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
2018-10-03
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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 to embark on a year of sleep and seclusion in her apartment aided by lots of prescription drugs and a permissive psychiatrist. So, kick off your shoes, recline, and stay with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
2018-09-05
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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 hours on a housing estate in North West London, and told through the voices of five of its residents. Listen in for teenage reminiscences and all the usual recommendations as we attempt to get down with the kids this month on Literary Friction.
2018-08-09
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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 election, Crudo features a character that very closely resembles Kathy Acker coming to terms with marriage, and the state of the world around her. Listen in for our interview with Olivia, plus all the usual recommendations.
2018-07-10
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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 disappearance from a small village in the Peak District in England, and the aftershocks it leaves in the community for years to come. So listen in for our conversation with Jon, some thoughts about literary small town life, and join us in resisting the overwhelming urge to quote lyrics by Journey and John Cooger Mellancamp.
2018-06-13
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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 in for a show dedicated to the tradition of books that roam, road novels and their intrepid travelling protagonists, and other books that use journeys as their narrative frame, plus all the usual recommendations. Ideal listening for those of you that are on the move!
2018-05-16
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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. Boys, Boys, Boys, was published in 2015, and she came in to talk to us about its follow-up, To Throw Away Unopened. It's published this month, and is about many things but mostly her complicated relationship with her extraordinary mother and growing up as a working-class kid in London.
2018-04-17
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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 late, little-known British writer whose work has recently been thrust back into public attention, largely because indie publisher And Other Stories have released The Unmapped Country, a new collection of her stories and fragments. The book?s editor, writer and critic Jennifer Hodgson, joins us for the second segment.
2018-03-21
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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 Elena in Elena Ferrante?s Neapolitan novels to Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
2018-02-20
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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 do so, and it's since become an international sensation. So listen in as we discuss the fascinating and sometimes fraught place nannies occupy in our culture. From the magical perfection of Mary Poppins to the killer babysitters of slasher B-movies, these almost-mummies are the stuff of both dreams and nightmares.
2018-01-23
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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.
2017-12-05
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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 constrictor, in spite of his acute fear of snakes, and to befriend a talking cat he meets in a Helsinki gay bar.
2017-11-07
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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 need to publish more diverse voices: award-winning novelist Kit de Waal; the editor and publisher of Know Your Place, Nathan Connolly; and London-based writer and poet Abondance Matanda.
2017-10-04
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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 to talk about his new book, appropriately called Autumn, the first in a quartet of titles based around the seasons. In Autumn, he describes the world around him ? from chewing gum to toilet bowls to frogs ? to his unborn daughter. So tune in for a celebration of the ordinary things in literature, and a discussion about how writers from George Eliot to Elizabeth Strout have made them compelling and extraordinary.
2017-09-05
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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 usual, we?ll also discuss the theme more generally, talking about books that engage with cinema, from F. Scott Fitzgerald?s The Last Tycoon to the criticism of Pauline Kael and Gilles Deleuze. So, sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show!
2017-08-10
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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.
2017-07-13
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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 lovers, and the complicated relationship they fall into with an older married couple. Listen in and tell all your friends!
2017-06-14
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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.
2017-05-17
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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