World Book Club podkast

Crime and Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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To mark the bicentenary of the birth of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky World Book Club revisits Crime and Punishment in an edition recorded at the elegant Pushkin House, London’s Russian cultural hub, in 2016. To help us explore Dostoyevsky’s haunting classic thriller Harriett Gilbert was joined by acclaimed Russian writer Boris Akunin and Russian scholar Dr Sarah Young. Consumed by the idea of his own special destiny, Rashkolnikov is drawn to commit a terrible crime. In the aftermath, he is dogged by madness, guilt and a calculating detective, and a feverish cat-and-mouse game unfolds. (Photo credit: Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images.)

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    Wole Soyinka

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    This month, to kick off a mini-season to celebrate a very special centenary World Book Club talks, for a second time, to the Nobel Prize-winning giant of world literature, Professor Wole Soyinka, about one hundred years of the writers’ organisation English PEN. PEN is the influential pressure group which helps support and campaign for the release of writers held unlawfully in jail around the globe and which helped to secure Soyinka’s release in 1969, after 26 months of detention without trial by the military regime in Nigeria. Guest presenter Ritula Shah also discusses Wole Soyinka’s first new novel in half a century with the author and his readers around the world: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is a bitingly witty whodunit, a scathing indictment of Nigeria’s ruling elite, and a powerful call to arms from one of the country’s most relentless political activists and world-famous writer. (Picture: Wole Soyinka. Photo credit: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images.)
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    Maylis De Kerangal: Mend the Living

    49:22

    World Book Club this month talks to the award-winning French writer Maylis de Kerangal about her remarkable and haunting novel Mend the Living. After a horrific car accident on the Normandy coast surfer Simon Limbeau is rushed to hospital where his devastated parents are later told that he is on life-support, but is brain-dead. His heart, however, is still beating perfectly and could be donated to save someone’s life. They are faced with an agonising choice. ‘Mend the Living’ is the story of Simon Limbeau’s heart – and the story of all the lives that are turned upside down in the 24 hours between the accident that cuts short his life and offers hope of new life to another. (Picture: Maylis de Kerangal. Photo credit: Philippe Quaisse.)
  • World Book Club podkast

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  • World Book Club podkast

    Crime and Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    49:15

    To mark the bicentenary of the birth of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky World Book Club revisits Crime and Punishment in an edition recorded at the elegant Pushkin House, London’s Russian cultural hub, in 2016. To help us explore Dostoyevsky’s haunting classic thriller Harriett Gilbert was joined by acclaimed Russian writer Boris Akunin and Russian scholar Dr Sarah Young. Consumed by the idea of his own special destiny, Rashkolnikov is drawn to commit a terrible crime. In the aftermath, he is dogged by madness, guilt and a calculating detective, and a feverish cat-and-mouse game unfolds. (Photo credit: Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images.)
  • World Book Club podkast

    Jane Harper: The Dry

    49:28

    World Book Club this month talks to the world-renowned Australian author Jane Harper at her home in Melbourne, Australia, about her internationally garlanded thriller, The Dry. Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, tensions in a small town community become unbearable when the Hadler family are found brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler’s guilty, committing suicide after slaughtering his wife and son. But policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his best friend and is reluctantly drawn into the investigation. As he probes deeper into the killings, secrets from the past bubble to the surface and he questions the truth of his friend's crime. A chilling story set under a sweltering sun dealing with issues of climate change, alcoholism and a community on the brink of breaking down. (Picture: Jane Harper. Photo credit: Katsnapp Photography.)
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    Manu Joseph: Serious Men

    49:05

    Serious Men tells the intertwined stories of wily Ayyan Mani - who tries to pass off his son as a mathematical genius - and life at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai, where Ayyan works, and where veteran scientists battle over their pet theories about how life began on Earth. Serious Men won the Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010 and the 2011 PEN Open Book Award and was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. It’s an unsettling comedy about inequalities in Indian society; it’s a portrait of a man doing his best for his family with unorthodox methods and unexpected results, and it’s a look at the romance and frustrations of scientific research. Manu Joseph is a novelist and columnist. (Picture: Manu Joseph. Photo credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images.)
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    Louise Penny: Still Life

    49:27

    This month World Book Club talks to acclaimed Canadian writer Louise Penny about the very first in her astonishingly successful series of Inspector Gamache crime novels. When a much-loved inhabitant of the village of Three Pines in the Eastern Townships of Quebec is found dead in the woods during Thanksgiving, the locals are certain that it was just a tragic hunting accident. But Chief Inspector Armand Gamache from Montreal suspects foul play and won’t rest until he’s rootled out the darkness at the heart of this seemingly peaceable and bucolic community. His always courteous but also insistent sleuthing gradually brings to light the family secrets and long-held grudges seething under its apparently serene surface. (Picture: Louise Penny. Photo credit: Jean-Francois Berube.)
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    Robert Seethaler: A Whole Life

    49:26

    Spanning much of the twentieth century and told with an elegant simplicity which belies the harshness of the tale it tells, Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life is the story of one man's relationship with an ancient landscape. Andreas Egger knows every nook and cranny of the Alpine mountain valley that is his home and from which vantage point he witnesses the arrival of the modern world, in all its many and daunting forms. A stark yet tender book about love, loss and endurance, and about finding dignity and beauty in solitude A Whole Life has already touched many thousands of readers with its message of solace and truth. (Picture: Robert Seethaler. Photo credit: UrbanZintel.)
  • World Book Club podkast

    Tsitsi Dangarembga: Nervous Conditions

    49:18

    A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, Nervous Conditions is the coming-of-age story of two Shona girls, Tambudzai and Nyasha, both trying to find their place in contemporary Zimbabwe. Whilst Nyasha has been to England and questions the effect of that Westernisation on her family, Tambudzai is from a more traditional branch of the family and is awed by her cousin’s seeming sophistication. Through its exploration of race, class, gender and the nature of friendship, the novel dramatizes the 'nervousness' of the 'postcolonial' condition that vexes us still. (Picture:Tsitsi Dangarembga. Photo credit: Hannah Mentz.)
  • World Book Club podkast

    Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island

    49:24

    This month World Book Club discusses Bill Bryson’s hugely acclaimed travelogue Notes from a Small Island with the author and his readers around the world. After two decades as a resident of the United Kingdom, Bryson took what he thought might be a last affectionate trip around his adoptive country before returning to live in his native America. Notes from a Small Island is the irreverent and hilarious account of this meandering journey through his beloved island nation. From Dover to Downing Street, from Giggleswick to Loch Ness by way of Titsey and Nether Wallop, Bryson rejoices in Britain’s inimitable placenames and much else of more substance besides, his very own State of the Nation address, as it were. A huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, Notes from a Small Island has become that nation's most loved book about Britain. (Picture: Bill Bryson. Photo credit: Catherine Williams.)
  • World Book Club podkast

    Sjón - Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

    49:09

    On this month’s World Book Club, Icelandic literary superstar Sjón will be answering questions from readers around the world about his novel Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was. Set in Reykjavik in 1918, it’s the story of sixteen year old Mani, whose life is completely changed by the arrival of the Spanish flu in the city. It’s a fascinating novel about human resilience and connections, a love letter to cinema and a portrait of a place at a very particular moment in its history. Moonstone won The Icelandic Literary Prize in 2013. Sjón is one of Iceland’s leading novelists and his work has been translated into 30 languages. He’s also a poet and librettist and was Oscar nominated for his lyrics for the film Dancer In The Dark. Presented by Harriett Gilbert. (Picture: Sjón. Courtesy of Sjón.)

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