A True Novel – Minae Mizumura

A novel that says it’s based on Wuthering Heights is taking a risk – because Wuthering Heights is a crazy effective soporific. But the further it strays from the original, the better A True Novel becomes. Don’t underestimate your originality, Minae Mizumura! You’ve produced an eminently entertaining read. In a nice turn, this very long…

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American Pastoral – Philip Roth

Feel like making glove?? That’s not a typo. This week we discuss perhaps the best passage in any of Philip Roth’s novels, the ‘glovemaking scene’ (again, not a typo) in American Pastoral. And we do this with American lit scholar and Gloversville, NY native, Menachem Feuer. Also, we discuss the definition of a schlemiel, a person…

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Satan in Goray – Isaac Bashevis Singer

The Messiah is coming! His arrival is imminent! That’s the bad news. The good news is his arrival and social schedule are narrated with a combination of enthralled immediacy and distrustful distance by a Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer. And yet, is it ‘all that’? Some readers will be super-pumped, others might not catch messiah fever.…

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Seven Days in the Art World – Sarah Thornton

‘They believe what they say in the moment they say it.’ And then the moment is gone, and someone’s stuck with a desiccated horse’s head or a painting of Jesus framed in piss. In this episode we learn about the high prices and low motives of the contemporary art world while schmoozing in Basel, getting lost in Venice, and,…

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A Heart So White – Javier Marías

Did we like this novel? What does it mean to like? What is our past, really, if we continue to relive it? And relieve it? And relive it? And – you get the point, but I’ll say it again. And again. And – you have just sampled the experience of reading Javier Marías’ massively successful…

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The Blue Fox – Sjón

Things are not what they appear to be, and not even what they appear later to be. Foxes are animals that cannot be trusted, and sometimes they are not even animals. This is that in Sjón’s slender novel. Intriguing.

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The Man Who Made Vermeers – Jonathan Lopez

Is there anything better than the story of a master forger?  If there is, I don’t know it.  This time we take a trip to the realm of non-fiction, looking into the complex world of Han Van Meegeren, a forger working in the style of Frans Hals and, especially, Johannes Vermeer, who sold his work…

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The Private Life – Josh Cohen

An interview with author, professor and psychoanalyst Josh Cohen, spy of our inner selves, examiner of the lies we live, and creator of the smash new meme, ‘#pervingon’. No secrets, please – we’re going English. Photo Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

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The End – Hans Erich Nossack

Hans Erich Nossack’s rare first person account of the 1943 destruction of Hamburg is served with a side of WG Sebald, who employs the word ‘should’, with grave consequences. BFFs.

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