The New York Public Library Podcast

Roxane Gay's latest book, "Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture," is a collection of first-person essays that directly tackle rape, sexual assault and harassment. With writer and organizer, Aja Monet, Gay discusses how their stories fit into the national conversation about sexual assault, the pitfalls of the #MeToo Movement, the pressure to "perform one's trauma," and the complex work that still needs to be done towards healing and justice. 

Direct download: 2018.07.17_Roxane_Gay_Aja_Monet_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Twenty years after Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize for "The God of Small Things," she returned to writing fiction in 2017 with her novel "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness." The book was hailed for its ability to juggle “the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation.” Roy spoke with Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose novel "The Sympathizer" won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. Together they discussed Roy's life before she became a writer, the relationships between writing and political activism, plus Roy reads from "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness."

Direct download: 2018.07.17_Roy_Nguyen_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

New York Public Library President Anthony Marx brings together political analysts from the right and left to ask what the future holds for American democracy and for democracies around the world. Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at "The Atlantic" and associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Jonah Goldberg is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior editor at "National Review."

In Goldberg's new book, "Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy," he argues that non-democratic surges are not the root causes of our problems but rather symptoms. Peter Beinart has written of his concern for the current presidential administration that is "evidence of a global authoritarian turn, a shedding of checks and balances."

Direct download: 2018.07.03_Democracy_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Bernstein Book Award finalist, "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century" tells the stories of a growing population of "workampers"—retirement-age Americans who live and work on the road full-time, taking seasonal jobs and living out of RVs, vans, and travel trailers. Author Jessica Bruder found that the best way to get to know her nomadic subjects was to join them. In a secondhand vehicle she named "Van Halen," Bruder lived and worked alongside the workampers. Traveling over 15 thousand miles, they visited everywhere from amusement parks to Amazon warehouses. In an interview with host Aidan Flax-Clark, Bruder shares her surprising findings, plus more van puns! 

Direct download: 2018.06.26_Bruder_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Playwrights Tarell Alvin McCraney and Donja R. Love stopped by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture earlier this spring. McCraney is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Moonlight" and a MacArthur Fellow. Love is an award-winning playwright, poet, and filmmaker from Philadelphia. In a conversation with NYU professor of theatre, Michael D. Dinwiddie, they discussed Black joy, the legacy of queer writers and playwrights and the people in their lives who have influenced their work.

Direct download: 2018.06.19_McCraney_Love_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Until recently, George Saunders  was best known for his short stories and essays. Then his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Saunders spoke with Paul Holdengräber about the book as well as the broader arc of his life and career, covering everything from comedy to fathers to Buddhism to reporting on Trump rallies.

Direct download: 2018.06.12_Saunders_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Before there was Rikers Island, there was Blackwell's—today known as Roosevelt Island. Historian Stacy Horn's newest book Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York is the first in-depth look at its dark past. In addition to a penitentiary, the small strip of land housed an almshouse, mental institution, and a number of hospitals for the poor—which, as one can imagine, lead to disturbing outcomes for the city's most disenfranchised people. From annual reports of the Women's Prison Association to an unpublished autobiography of a survivor of the NYC draft riots, Horn walks us through some of her findings from the NYPL archives used to write this chilling story, and how it sheds light on the same issues of today.

Direct download: Stacy_Horn_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and New Yorker poetry editor, recently published a new collection of poems titled "Brown: Poems." From James Brown to John Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed., Young meditates on all things "brown" and the ways culture shaped his personal experience growing up in Kansas. Joining him to discuss the book was Claudia Rankine, professor of poetry at Yale University and the author of "Citizen: An American Lyric." Rankine asks Young about his childhood memories, musical influences, and pop culture that makes us dance and think at the same time.

Direct download: Young_Rankine_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Literary icon and friend of The New York Public Library, Tom Wolfe passed away last week at the age of 88. Wolfe became a Library Lion in 1981, and is the author of many books, including The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff.

Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was first released in 1968, chronicling American counterculture. Half a century later, TASCHEN released an abridgment of the text, with photographs and ephemera from the era. Wolfe's last appearance at the Library was this conversation with Paul Holdengräber, which included readings of Wolfe's work by actor René Auberjonois.

Direct download: TomWolfe2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:57pm EDT

Masha Gessen’s book The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia is the winner of the Library’s 2018 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. A defining account of Russia’s post-Soviet era, it asks how the country’s prospects for democracy disappeared under the rule of Vladimir Putin. Taking on a novelistic approach, Gessen wove together the stories of four protagonists born in the last decade of the Soviet Union, earning last year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction. Gessen is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has also been a contributor to The New York Review of Books and the author of several books.

 

Direct download: 2018.05.21_GESSEN_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT