Since 1980, City Arts & Lectures has presented onstage conversations with outstanding figures in literature, politics, criticism, science, and the performing arts, offering the most diverse perspectives about ideas and values. City Arts & Lectures programs can be heard on more than 130 public radio stations across the country and wherever you get your podcasts. The broadcasts are co-produced with KQED 88.5 FM in San Francisco. Visit CITYARTS.NET for more info.
Tsitsi Dangarembga & Angela Davis
1:12:32Tsitsi Dangarembga is a novelist, playwright, activist, and filmmaker. She is the author of the Tambudzai Trilogy, which traces the life of a rural girl from her childhood in colonial Zimbabwe to her adulthood in a country repressed by political elites. The first novel in the series, Nervous Conditions, was “hailed as one of the 20th century’s most significant works of African literature”. On February 28, 2023, Tsitsi Dangarembga came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater to read from her new essay collection, Black and Female, and to talk with the legendary Black activist Angela Davis.
Patrick Radden Keefe
1:15:33This week, we’ll dive into the curious world of criminals and crooks with journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of the bestsellers Empire of Pain: The Secret of the Sackler Dynasty and Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. Keefe is also the writer and host of Wind of Change, an 8-part podcast which investigates the strange convergence of espionage and heavy metal music during the Cold War. On February 21, 2023, Patrick Radden Keefe came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk with KQED’s Mina Kim about his latest book, Rogues: True Stories of Grifters Killers Rebels and Crooks, and the reporting process that has made him one of today’s most respected long-form journalists.
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Natalie Diaz and Hilton Als
1:01:39This week, our guest is poet Natalie Diaz in conversation with essayist and author Hilton Als. Natalie Diaz is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community and is the director of the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, where she works with the last remaining speakers of the Mojave language. Language and loss are explored throughout Diaz’s poetry, in collections including When My Brother Was an Aztec and Postcolonial Love Poem, which won her the Pulitzer Prize. Hilton Als is another writer whose work explores American identity, in theater reviews, articles, and essays for The New Yorker, where he’s contributed since 1989. Als received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, “for bold and original reviews that strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context.” His writing explores race, sexuality, class, art, and American identity provocatively, exploding the boundaries of the genre in which it is contained. His most recent book is a memoir, My Pinup. On February 9, 2023, Natalie Diaz and Hilton Als came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco for an onstage conversation, during which Diaz read from her work.
1:10:24In a cultural landscape filled with endless pundits and talking heads, Fran Lebowitz stands out as one of our most insightful social commentators. Her essays and interviews offer her acerbic views on current events and the media – as well as pet peeves including tourists, baggage-claim areas, after-shave lotion, adults who roller skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan. All of this (and more) is captured in the beloved Netflix series Pretend It’s a City, directed by Martin Scorsese. The New York Times Book Review calls Lebowitz an “important humorist in the classic tradition.” Purveyor of urban cool, Lebowitz is a cultural satirist whom many call the heir to Dorothy Parker. On February 1, 2023, Fran Lebowitz appeared at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco in conversation with Manny Yekutiel and the audience.
Telehealth with Jeremy A. Greene/In Search of Paradise with Pico Iyer
1:08:20This week, we have two in-studio conversations. First, Jeremy A. Greene, a doctor and professor at Johns Hopkins University, talks with Hannah Zeavin about his book “The Doctor Who Wasn’t There”. It traces the history and pitfalls of technology in health and medicine – specifically electronic media. That includes electronic health care records, which can make medical care more efficient and less expensive – but can also lead to mixups and dangerous errors. This program was recorded on October 21, 2022 at the studios of WYPR in Baltimore. In the second half of the program, travel writer, novelist, and essayist Pico Iyer - whose work is contemplative, quiet, and always uplifting. Iyer often writes about – and from – different parts of the world, including Nara, Japan, where he lives most of the year. In his new book, “The Half-Known Life: In Search of Paradise”, he explores ideas of utopia, and considers how to find peace in the midst of difficulty and suffering. On January 19, 2023, Pico Iyer talked to Isabel Duffy at the studios of KQED in San Francisco.
Thao Nguyen and Samin Nosrat
1:14:48Songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist Thao Nguyen is celebrated for her richly percussive music and her fiercely delivered vocals. She has released five albums with the band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down including the most recent, Temple, a powerful exploration of Nguyen’s identity as a queer person and the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Her collaborations with Joanna Newsom, Andrew Bird and many others have earned her an esteemed place in the indie rock world. In 2019, Nguyen assumed the role of host for the popular podcast Song Exploder. Samin Nosrat is a cook, teacher, and author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. She is an Eat columnist at The New York Times Magazine and the host and executive producer of the Netflix original documentary series based on her book. Nosrat learned to cook at Chez Panisse, alongside Benedetta Vitali and Dario Cecchini in Italy, and at the former restaurant Eccolo in Berkeley. As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, Nosrat studied poetry with Bob Hass, Shakespeare with Stephen Booth, and journalism with Michael Pollan. She currently hosts a popular podcast Home Cooking, alongside musician Hrishikesh Hirway. On January 20, 2023, Samin Nosrat and Thao Nguyen had an onstage conversation at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco about their work, their experiences as children of immigrants, and dealing with unexpected fame. Thao Nguyen also performed two songs.
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Barry Jenkins with Jeff Chang
1:13:39This week – Jeff Chang talks to Nikole Hannah-Jones, one of today’s foremost investigative journalists. Her reporting on civil rights and racial justice, including school segregation, has earned her numerous awards, chief among them a Pulitzer Prize for her work on the 1619 Project. It’s an ongoing initiative from the New York Times that reframes the way we understand America’s history by examining the modern legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans. This month, an adaptation for video premieres on Hulu. On November 29, 2021, Nikole Hannah-Jones came to San Francisco to celebrate the release of the book version of the 1619 Project. Joining her was one of the book’s contributors, Barry Jenkins, the Academy-Award-winning director of Moonlight, and most recently, a television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”. But before the two sat down to talk to Jeff Chang, Forrest Hamer read his poem “Race Riot”.
Justice Stephen Breyer and Judge Charles Breyer
1:15:35This week, a conversation with two brothers, both distinguished members of the federal judiciary, Justice Stephen Breyer and his brother, Judge Charles Breyer. Stephen Breyer retired in summer 2022 after nearly 28 years as a member of the Supreme Court. Prior to that, he served nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals Judge. He is especially appreciated for his pragmatism, issuing decisions most often informed by their real life consequences, and his firm belief that judges are loyal to the law, not to a political party. Born in San Francisco, both he and brother Judge Charles Breyer attended Lowell High School. Their father served as legal counsel to the San Francisco Board of Education, and their mother focused on public service. Senior United States District Judge Charles Breyer has served on the bench for 25 years. He was an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force from 1973 to 1974, and then entered private practice 1974 to 1997, interrupted by a brief stint as chief assistant district attorney of San Francisco in 1979. On January 7, 2023, the Breyer brothers appeared on stage at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco for an on-stage conversation with Judge Vince Chhabria, who served as a law clerk for both Breyers.
Ottessa Moshfegh & Rachel Kushner
1:13:05Rachel Kushner is the author of novels The Mars Room, The Flamethrowers, and Telex from Cuba, as well as a book of short stories, The Strange Case of Rachel K. Her career-spanning book of essays The Hard Crowd, solidified her place of authority amongst today’s writers, covering everything from a Palestinian refugee camp to her young life in the San Francisco music scene. Kushner has won the Prix Médicis and been a finalist for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Ottessa Moshfegh is a stand-out in contemporary literature. With worlds and minds that manage to be both dark and intricate, as well as elegant and neurotic, her writing trails a unique and poignant thread of what it means to live in the now. She is the author of the novels My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Eileen, the novella McGlue, the short story collection Homesick for Another World, and she has three film adaptations in the works. Her newest book, Lapvona, is a medieval fantasy set in a fictional village struggling with the sordid aftermath of a plague; “part Dostoevsky, part Poe, and entirely her own” (The Millions), the book showcases Moshfegh at seemingly her darkest.
Encore: Richard Powers
1:14:52This week, our guest is Richard Powers. He’s the author of thirteen novels on everything from neuroscience, to artificial intelligence to the environment. His book, “The Overstory” earned him a Pulitzer prize in fiction. The Financial Times called it “A Great American Eco-Novel.” His latest book is called “Bewilderment”, and it also deals with environmental catastrophe. It’s the story of a widowed father and his son, and their journey into the wilderness. On April twenty-fifth, 2022, Richard Powers came to the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to talk to neuroscientist Indre Viskontas. Mutual admirers, the two had much to discuss, from the cognitive basis of creativity to our relationship with the natural and digital worlds.