The Chills at Will Podcast podcast

Episode 157 with Ilana Masad: Literary Critic, Former Podcaster, and Author of the Funny, Stirring, Meditative, and Thought-Provoking All My Mother’s Lovers

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Episode 157 Notes and Links to Ilana Masad’s Work 


   On Episode 157 of The Chills at Will Podcast, Pete welcomes Ilana Masad, and the two discuss, among other things, Ilana being raised bilingual and bicultural, her early reading and shifting literary interests, formative and transformative classes and mentors and books, her podcasting days, her work as a critic, and the myriad cultural issues and themes that manifest in her standout novel, All My Mother’s Lovers. 


Ilana Masad is a queer Israeli-American writer of fiction, nonfiction, and criticism. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR, StoryQuartlerly, Tin House’s Open Bar, 7x7, Catapult, Buzzfeed, and many more. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she has received her Masters in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is currently a doctoral student. She is the author of the novel All My Mother’s Lovers.


Buy All My Mother's Lovers


Ilana Masad's Website


Ilana Reviews Rachel Monroe’s Savage Appetites for NPR


The Last Episode of The Other Stories Podcast


The Other Stories Podcast


At about 7:00, Ilana discusses her academic work as she finishes up her 


At about 7:50, Ilana talks about growing up in Israel and homes in on her bilingual education and writing and reading in her early days


At about 10:30, Ilana responds to Pete wondering if Hebrew in particular in its structure informs her English writing; she cites formative experiences with Etgar Keret and his poetry reading series


At about 15:00, Ilana discusses early reading that inspired and thrilled her-including works by Tamora Pierce


At about 20:15, Ilana talks about the impact of realist fiction on her 


At about 22:30, Brian Morton is referenced as Pete asks Ilana about how she began to gain momentum towards becoming a professional writer


At about 24:00, Ilana shares an anecdote about Kieron Winn and her time at Oxford; this anecdote is partly-related in this article printed in December 18, 2022’s Atlantic 


At about 26:10, Ilana outlines her plan in transition from publishing into writing


At about 26:50, Pete asks Ilana about reading for “pleasure”/for “business”


At about 28:15, Pete wonders about book criticism involving “bad” books


At about 31:25, Ilana lists some favorite contemporary writers and writing, including Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s Before All the World


At about 34:00, Pete cites some background info on Ilana’s submission process that he learned from the great I’m a Writer…But Podcast, and Ilana responds to his question about the maxim “Kill your darlings”-she quotes R.O. Kwon’s advice


At about 35:45, Ilana gives background on some seeds for the book, including the dynamic opening line 


At about 38:00, The two discuss the book’s three epigraphs and the book’s inciting incident in creating significance for the mother-daughter relationship throughout


At about 39:20, Pete compliments the book’s interesting structure and moving scene near the end as he asks Ilana about how she maintained continuity for the storyline


At about 41:50, The two discuss grief as presented in the book, and Pete asks Ilana to expound upon the connections between sex and death


At about 45:50, The two discuss the main character, Maggie’s, father Peter, and Pete makes a guess about his name’s provenance 


At about 47:00, Pete asks Iris and her tastes and behaviors and personality and connections to intergenerational traumas and her history with an ex-husband 


At about 48:25, Ilana responds to Pete’s questions about Maggie’s behaviors after feeling left out/forgotten by her mom, due to Maggie’s open lesbian lifestyle 


At about 49:45, The idea of the shiva and the cool plot device that unveils with the letters to be delivered is brought up and explored; Ilana expands upon Maggie’s feelings  


At about 52:00, Ilana discusses the vagaries of grief and how it manifests in life and in the book


At about 53:30, The two shout out Sacramento’s appearance in the book!


At about 55:00, Ilana discusses the varied men that Iris had as lovers and their connections to Maggie and her relationship with her mother


At about 56:00, Ilana compares and contrasts Maggie with herself and talks about Maggie’s “commitment issues” and its “self-sabotage”


At about 58:30, Ilana delineates the ways in which American/WASP cultures often deal with death in such different ways than what she is used to; this leads to discussion of ideas of wellness in the United States 


At about 1:02:50, Ilana talks about how mourning and views of death are tied in to the byzantine healthcare system in the US; she uses Erin Brockovich as an example of the system’s faults


At about 1:05:35, Ilana gives background on Mac Lopez from the book as an “homage” to Zahn McClarnon


At about 1:09:00, Pete cites the last scenes as beautiful and stirring and shouts out the “loveable character” Peter-without giving spoilers!


At about 1:09:55, Ilana shares “lovely messages” from readers and highly encourages readers to reach out authors


At about 1:11:10, Ilana discusses her time as a podcast host for The Other Stories Podcast

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   Please tune in for Episode 158 with Javier Zamora. Born in El Salvador, he came unaccompanied to the US at age nine, much of the basis for his debut New York Times bestselling memoir, Solito, which has been featured on The Today Show and many other pubs; holds fellowships from, among many others, CantoMundo and the National Endowment for the Arts

   The episode will air later tonight, on December 20.

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