3.1 On Being Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng (SW)

Season three of Novel Dialogue launches in partnership with Public Books and introduces some fresh new voices into the mix. John and Aarthi welcome Chris Holmes, Emily Hyde, Tara Menon, and Sarah Wasserman into the ND pod as guest hosts. And have they brought a series of scintillating conversations with them! In our series premiere, Sarah sits down with acclaimed novelist Chang-rae Lee and Anne Anlin Cheng, renowned scholar of American literature and visual culture at Princeton.

The conversation goes small and goes big: from the shortest short story to the totalizing effects of capitalism. Chang-rae is no stranger to such shifting scales: his novels sweep through large stretches of time and space, but their attention to detail and meticulous prose makes for an intimate reading experience. Chang-rae’s latest novel, My Year Abroad, fuels a discussion about how we can form meaningful bonds in current conditions (hint: it’s often around a table) and about the specters of other, better worlds that haunt Chang-rae’s fictions. He discusses his relationship to his own work and the benefits of taking an “orbital view” on his writing. Chang-rae also offers a tantalizing glimpse into his current project, a semi-autobiographical novel about Korean-American immigrants in 1970s New York. In response to a brand new signature question for the podcast this season, Chang-rae reveals the talent he wishes he could suddenly have… one that Anne already possesses!

Mentioned in this Episode

Listen and Read

Audio: On Becoming Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng

Transcript: 3.1 On Becoming Unmoored

3.6 Why are You in Bed? Why are You Drinking? Colm Tóibín and Joseph Rezek in Conversation Novel Dialogue

Colm Tóibín, the new laureate for Irish fiction, talks to Joseph Rezek of Boston University, and guest host Tara K. Menon of Harvard. The conversation begins with Colm’s latest novel The Magician, about the life of Thomas Mann, and whether we can or should think of novelists as magicians and then moves swiftly from one big question to the next. What are the limitations of the novel as a genre? Would Colm ever be interested in a writing a novel about an openly gay novelist? Why and how does death figure in Colm’s fiction? Each of Colm’s revealing, often deeply personal answers illuminates how both novels and novelists work. As Thomas Mann wrote of the “grubby business” of writing novels, Colm reminds us of the “day to day dullness of novel writing.” Insight and inspiration only arrive, he warns, after long, hard days of work. Mentioned in this episode: Robinson Crusoe (1719), Daniel Defoe Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Henry James The Wings of the Dove(1902), Henry James The Ambassadors (1903), Henry James The Golden Bowl(1904), Henry James The Blackwater Lightship(1999), Colm Tóibín The Master (2004), Colm Tóibín Brooklyn(2009), Colm Tóibín The Testament of Mary(2012), Colm Tóibín Nora Webster(2015), Colm Tóibín The Magician(2021), Colm Tóibín Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. 3.6 Why are You in Bed? Why are You Drinking? Colm Tóibín and Joseph Rezek in Conversation
  2. 3.5 The Romance of Recovery: Ben Bateman talks to Shola von Reinhold (AV)
  3. 3.4 The Work of Inhabiting a Role: Charles Yu speaks to Chris Fan (JP)
  4. 3.3 In the Editing Room with Ruth Ozeki and Rebecca Evans (EH)
  5. 3.2 Promises Unkept: Damon Galgut with Andrew van der Vlies

Image credit: Anne Anlin Cheng, Roots

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