Shakespeare and Company: Writers discuss their books podcast

Katharina Volckmer on The Appointment

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Buckle up! This week we welcome Katharina Volckmer discussing her wild, taboo-busting debut novel The Appointment, a transgressive, spiky, astonishingly light-footed, and very, very funny monologue about sex, nationhood, shame . . . and often all three combined. Buy The Appointment here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781913097325/the-appointment Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, and her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. In a monologue that is both razor-sharp and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from outre sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the enduring legacy of shame. With The Appointment, her audacious debut novel, Katharina Volckmer challenges our notions of what is fluid and what is fixed and injects a dose of Bernhardian snark into contemporary British fiction. * Katharina Volckmer was born in Germany in 1987. She lives in London, where she works for a literary agency. The Appointment is her first novel. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1

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    Lauren Groff on Matrix

    54:11

    This week Adam is joined by Lauren Groff, whose latest novel Matrix an extraordinary story of transformation, visions, leaps of faith, vicious battles, friendship, and creativity, as well as — to cite USA Today — “a character study to rival Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell”. Matrix is a true original, unlike any literary experience you will have this year, probably one of the many reasons for which it was selected as a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award. Buy Matrix here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781785151910/matrix-the-new-york-times-bestseller Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Seventeen-year-old Marie, too wild for courtly life, is thrown to the dogs one winter morning, expelled from the royal court to become the prioress of an abbey. Marie is strange - tall, a giantess, her elbows and knees stick out, ungainly.

At first taken aback by life at the abbey, Marie finds purpose and passion among her mercurial sisters. Yet she deeply misses her secret lover Cecily and queen Eleanor.

Born last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, women who flew across the countryside with their sword fighting and dagger work, Marie decides to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. She will bring herself, and her sisters, out of the darkness, into riches and power.

MATRIX is a bold vision of female love, devotion and desire from one of the most adventurous writers at work today.
 * Lauren Groff is a two-time National Book Award finalist and The New York Times–bestselling author of three novels, The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, and Fates and Furies, and the celebrated short story collections Delicate Edible Birds and Florida. She has won The Story Prize, the PEN/O. Henry Award, and been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work regularly appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and elsewhere, and she was named one of Granta’s 2017 Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and sons. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Poets Richard Barnett and Luke Kennard in conversation

    56:08

    This week Adam is joined by poets Richard Barnett and Luke Kennard. Richard Barnet’s WHEREVER WE ARE WHEN WE COME TO THE END is an imagining of the experience of the young Ludwig Wittgenstein in the First World War, recounted in the same austere and succinct statements as the philosopher’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus, the initial notes for which were taken during the conflict. The result is an affecting examination of love, duty and violence that had such a strong impact on me that it sent me back to investigate Wittgenstein’s writing with fresh eyes. Sarah Bakewell called WHEREVER WE ARE WHEN WE COME TO THE END “ingenious, devastating and filled with emotional riches.” Luke Kennard’s NOTES ON THE SONNETS, revisits Shakespeare’s poetry in a chain of prose poems set in a British house party. The party is a contradictory beast—at once crushingly dull yet flecked with the absurd, at once sprawling yet intensely claustrophobic. Kennard’s poems embody these contradictions too, they somehow manage to be superficial yet profound, charmingly insolent yet glacially serious, knowingly pretentious yet deeply insecure and self-critical, and they take in almost every subject under the stars. NOTES ON THE SONNETS was a Poetry Book Society recommendation, and recently won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2021. Buy WHEREVER WE ARE WHEN WE COME TO THE END here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781912436583/wherever-we-are-when-we-come-to-the-end Buy NOTES ON THE SONNETS here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781908058812/notes-on-the-sonnets Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Richard Barnett is a poet and historian. He taught the history of science and medicine at Cambridge, UCL, and Oxford for more than a decade, and his history books include Medical London, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Sick Rose, an international bestseller. His first poetry collection Seahouses was published by Valley Press in 2015, and was short-listed for the Poetry Business Prize. His next poetry publication was Wherever We Are When We Come to the End, a poetic experiment digging into the form and language of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, published in May 2021. Luke Kennard has published five collections of poetry. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2005 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. He lectures at the University of Birmingham. In 2014 he was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation Poets. His debut novel, The Transition, is published in 2017 by Fourth Estate. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Katharina Volckmer on The Appointment

    54:50

    Buckle up! This week we welcome Katharina Volckmer discussing her wild, taboo-busting debut novel The Appointment, a transgressive, spiky, astonishingly light-footed, and very, very funny monologue about sex, nationhood, shame . . . and often all three combined. Buy The Appointment here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781913097325/the-appointment Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, and her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. In a monologue that is both razor-sharp and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from outre sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the enduring legacy of shame. With The Appointment, her audacious debut novel, Katharina Volckmer challenges our notions of what is fluid and what is fixed and injects a dose of Bernhardian snark into contemporary British fiction. * Katharina Volckmer was born in Germany in 1987. She lives in London, where she works for a literary agency. The Appointment is her first novel. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Armando Iannucci on Pandemonium

    36:56

    This week Adam Biles is joined by comedy-legend Armando Iannucci to discuss Pandemonium, his riotously funny, but also deeply affecting mock-epic about the mistakes made and palms-greased during the British government’s handling of the pandemic. Buy Pandemonium here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781408715086/pandemonium-some-verses-on-the-current-predicament Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Tell, Mighty Wit, how the highest in forethought and, That tremendous plus, The Science, Saw off our panic and Globed vexation Until a drape of calmness furled around the earth And beckoned a new and greater normal into each life For which we give plenty gratitude and pay Willingly for the vict'ry triumph Merited by these wisest gods. Pandemonium is an epic mock-heroic poem, written in response to the pandemic with all the anger and wit that Armando Iannucci brings to his vision of contemporary events. It tells the story of how Orbis Rex, Young Matt and his Circle of Friends, Queen Dido and the blind Dom'nic did battle with 'a wet and withered bat' from Wuhan. * Armando Iannucci is a writer and broadcaster who has written, directed and produced numerous critically acclaimed films, television and radio comedy shows. His screenplay for the film 'In The Loop' was nominated for an Oscar at the Academy Awards. His iconic series for the BBC – 'The Thick of It' – was nominated for 13 BAFTA Awards, winning 5 during its four series run. Among his own award-winning shows, he is also the co-creator and writer of the popular Steve Coogan character Alan Partridge. Armando's HBO comedy 'Veep' has picked up numerous awards, including four Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series over the last four years. His film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 'The Personal History of David Copperfield' was released in January 2020, which that year won Best Screenplay at BIFA, was also nominated for a Golden Globe and won a 'Seal of Distinction' from the US Critics' Choice Association. In 2017 he published 'Hear Me Out', a new book on classical music, and released the feature film 'The Death of Stalin', which was nominated for 2 BAFTAs and won Best Comedy at the European Film Awards.
His latest HBO series, 'Avenue 5', which stars Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad, aired on SKY in January 2020, and is currently in production for the second series. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Eimear McBride on Something Out of Place: Women and Disgust

    58:00

    This week our guest is the brilliant Eimear McBride, discussing her first book of non-fiction Something Out of Place. Beginning with the sentiment of disgust with which, McBride argues, society regards and treats women, it develops into a blistering and astute polemic against the patriarchal framework that oppresses, coerces, sculpts controls and all too often ends the lives of half the world’s population. Buy Something Out of Place here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/d/9781788162869/something-out-of-place-women-disgust Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Eimear McBride's debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing received a number of awards including the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and Irish Novel of the Year. Her second novel The Lesser Bohemians won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. She occasionally writes and reviews for Guardian, TLS and New Statesman. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Richard Powers on Bewilderment

    1:01:56

    Our guest this week is Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Powers, discussing Bewilderment, his moving and visionary, Booker-shortlisted novel about a bereaved father and his neurodiverse son, their hunt for life on planets—both real and imaginary—and their attempts to convince others that life on our own planet is worth saving. Buy Bewilderment here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781785152634/bewilderment-shortlisted-for-the-booker-prize-2021 Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Theo Byrne is a promising young scientist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from school for smashing his friend's face with a thermos. What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, all while fostering his son's desperate attempt to save this one. At the heart of Bewilderment lies the question: How can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful, imperiled planet? * Richard Powers has published thirteen novels. He is a MacArthur Fellow and received the National Book Award. His most recent book, The Overstory, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He lives in the Great Smoky Mountains. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    BONUS PODCAST* Poetry from Archipelago Books

    38:14

    This special podcast is a collaboration with our friends at Archipelago books, showcasing three of their wonderful poetry titles: Acrobat by Nabaneeta Dev Sen, translated by Nandana Dev Sen; Allegri by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated by Geoffrey Brock; And Until the Lions by Karthika Naïr. Buy Acrobat by Nabaneeta Dev Sen, translated by Nandana Dev Sen here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781939810809/acrobat Buy Allegri by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated by Geoffrey Brock here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781939810649/allegria Buy Until the Lions by Karthika Naïr here: https://archipelagobooks.org/book/until-the-lions-echoes-from-the-mahabharata/ * Famed for his brevity, Giuseppe Ungaretti’s early poems swing nimbly from the coarse matter of tram wires, alleyways, quails in bushes, and hotel landladies to the mystic shiver of pure abstraction. These are the kinds of poems that, through their numinous clarity and shifting intimations, can make a poetry-lover of the most stone-faced non-believer. Ungaretti won multiple prizes for his poetry, including the 1970 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He was a major proponent of the Hermetic style, which proposed a poetry in which the sounds of words were of equal import to their meanings. This auditory awareness echoes through Brock’s hair-raising translations, where a man holding vigil with his dead, open-mouthed comrade, says, “I have never felt / so fastened / to life.” * A radiant collection of poetry about womanhood, intimacy, and the body politic that together evokes the arc of an ordinary life. Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s rhythmic lines explore the joys and agonies of first love, childbirth, and decay with a restless, tactile imagination, both picking apart and celebrating the rituals that make us human. When she warns, “know that blood can be easily drawn by lips,” her words tune to the fierce and biting depths of language, to the “treachery that lingers on tongue tips.” At once compassionate and unsparing, conversational and symphonic, these poems tell of a rope shivering beneath an acrobat’s nimble feet or of a twisted, blood-soaked umbilical cord – they pluck the invisible threads that bind us together. * A dazzling and eloquent reworking of the Mahabharata, the ancient Asian epic, through nineteen voices on the periphery. With daring poetic forms, Karthika Naïr breathes life into this ancient epic. In Until the Lions, Karthika Naïr retells the Mahabharata through the embodied voices of women and marginal characters, so often conquered and destroyed throughout history. She captures the richness and complexity of the Mahabharata, while illuminating lives buried beneath the edifices of one of the world’s most venerated books. Through shifting poetic forms, ranging from pantoums to Petrarchan sonnets, Naïr choreographs the cadences of stray voices. And with a passionate empathy, she tells of nameless soldiers, their despairing spouses and lovers, a canny empress, an all-powerful god, and a gender-shifting outcast warrior. Until the Lions is a kaleidoscopic, poetic tour de force. It reveals the most intimate threads of desire, greed, and sacrifice in this foundational epic. * Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    David Runciman on Confronting Leviathan

    1:08:20

    This week Adam Biles is joined by David Runciman, Professor of Politics at Cambridge University and the presenter of the hugely popular Talking Politics podcast. David's new book Confronting Leviathan is a compelling and accessible introduction to some of the most important and radical thinkers (Wolstonecraft, Constant, De Tocqueville, Marx and Engels, Hayek, MacKinnon, Fukuyama and more…) whose ideas have shaped our understanding of the modern state. Buy Confronting Leviathan here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781788167826/confronting-leviathan-a-history-of-ideas Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * Based on the History Of Ideas podcast series by Talking Politics host David Runciman, A History of Ideas explores some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics - from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, and from revolution to lock down. While explaining the most important and often-cited ideas of thinkers such as Constant, De Tocqueville, Marx and Engels, Hayek, MacKinnon and Fukuyama, David Runciman shows how crises - revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics - generated these new ways of political thinking. This is a history of ideas to help make sense of what's happening today. * David Runciman is Professor of Politics at Cambridge University and the presenter of the popular Talking Politics podcast. He is the author of many books about politics, including The Politics of Good Intentions (2006), Political Hypocrisy (2008) and The Confidence Trap (2013). He writes regularly about politics and current affairs for a wide range of publications including the London Review of Books. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
  • Shakespeare and Company: Writers discuss their books podcast

    Anuk Arudpragasam on A Passage North

    54:13

    This week we’re joined Anuk Arudpragasm to discuss A Passage North, his Booker-shortlisted story of age and youth, loss and survival in Sri Lanka. Buy A Passage North here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781783786947/a-passage-north Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * It begins with a message: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother”s former care-giver, Rani, has died in unexpected circumstances, at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an activist he fell in love with four years earlier while living in Delhi, bringing with it the stirring of distant memories and desires. As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for the funeral, so begins a passage into the soul of an island devastated by violence. Written with precision and grace, A Passage North is a poignant memorial for the missing and the dead, and a luminous meditation on time, consciousness, and the lasting imprint of the connections we make with others. * Anuk Arudpragasam was born in Colombo and currently lives between Sri Lanka and India. His debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize as well as the Internationaler Literaturpreis. He received a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University in 2019. Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1
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    Ian Dunt on How to Be a Liberal

    1:01:46

    This week Ian Dunt joined Adam Biles to discuss How to Be a Liberal, his immensely readable history of, and rallying cry for, “the single most radical political programme in the history of humankind.” Buy How to Be a Liberal here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/I/9781912454457/how-to-be-a-liberal-the-story-of-freedom-and-the-fight-for-its-survival Browse our online store here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/15/online-store/16/bookstore Become a Friend of S&Co here: https:/.friendsofshakespeareandcompany.com * The authoritarian right is taking control. From Viktor Orban in Hungary, to Brexit in Britain, to Donald Trump in America, nationalists have launched an all-out assault on liberal values. In this groundbreaking new book, political journalist Ian Dunt tells the story of liberalism, from its birth in the fight against absolute monarchy to the modern-day resistance against the new populism. In a soaring narrative that stretches from the battlefields of the English Civil War to the 2008 financial crash and beyond, this vivid, page-turning book explains the political ideas which underpin the modern world. But it is also something much more than that - it is a rallying cry for those who still believe in freedom and reason. * Ian Dunt is a columnist at the i newspaper, a regular host on the Oh God What Now podcast, a columnist for the New European and the i newspaper, and the author of two books: Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now and How To Be A Liberal. Follow Ian on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/IanDunt Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. Buy a signed copy of his novel FEEDING TIME here: https://shakespeareandcompany.com/S/9781910296684/feeding-time Listen to Alex Freiman’s Play It Gentle here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gfkDcG32HYlXnBqI0xgQX?si=mf0Vw-kuRS-ai15aL9kLNA&dl_branch=1

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