Listen to Claire Messud here. Claire Messud and I talk about her new novel The Burning Girl, as well as Claire’s childhood years in Australia, and how childhood friendships can haunt and define us. I’ve loved Claire’s work ever since I read The Emperor’s Children when I was living […]
I’ve long imagined speaking with Salman Rushdie ever since I read “Midnight’s Children”. I never imagined it would come true! I hope you enjoy this clip taken from Random House’s “Off the Page” event in NYC where we talk about his most recent book “The […]
Listen to Karl Ove Knausgaard here.
To say I’ve been looking forward to interviewing Karl Ove Knausguaard is an understatement. That said, I couldn’t have foreseen how lovely it was to speak with him in person. The world outside drifted away and we were able to dive into his work and talk about art, life, love and all the good stuff.
You most likely know Karl Ove from his six-volume sensation, My Struggle. His new book, Autumn, is an autobiographical quartet based on the four seasons. Addressed to his unborn daughter, Autumn is like an encyclopedia of everyday things, which Knausgaard suggests are rather extraordinary on closer inspection. He zooms in on subjects and objects like apples, fingers, and petrol, and less everyday things (depending on who you are and where you live) like badgers, bee keeping, and Flaubert. Reading this book, that’s also punctuated with illustrations by Vanessa Baird, will make you slow down, take a moment, and recall your childlike wonder.
I hope you love this show. Please share it with your literature loving friends if you do!
Cover image courtesy The Guardian
Alex Gilvarry on those all-consuming post-breakup runaway thoughts and channeling the voice of Norman Mailer
Listen to Alex Gilvarry on the pod here. It’s Alex’s second time on the pod and what a treat it was to have him on the show again, this time to talk about his second novel East man Was Here. Here’s what I wrote about it […]
Listen to Claire Messud here. Claire Messud and I talk about her new novel The Burning Girl, as well as Claire’s childhood years in Australia, and how childhood friendships can haunt and define us. I’ve loved Claire’s work ever since I read The Emperor’s Children when I was living […]
Listen to Kaitlyn Greenidge on the pod here.
Kaitlyn Greenidge and I chat about her funny, strange and wonderful debut novel, “We Love You, Charlie Freeman.”
The Freeman family–Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie–have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family.
Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.
I hope you enjoy this conversation.
Listen to Tom Perrotta here. Tom Perrotta and I talk about his latest novel Mrs. Fletcher, which explores sexuality in America. U R MY MILF! Send me a naked pic!! Divorced mother Eve Fletcher has never, ever, received a text like this before. Could it be from one […]
Listen to Jenny Zhang here. Poet and writer Jenny Zhang joined me to talk about her debut collection of stories “Sour Heart.” The first book from Lena Dunham’s Lenny imprint at Random House crackles with vivid and vital stories of newly arrived Chinese Americans adjusting to New York […]
Listen to Zinzi Clemmons on the podcast here.
This week I talk to debut author Zinzi Clemmons about her book “What We Lose: A Novel.” This novel signals the launch of an important new voice who we’ll be turning to to make sense of our world for years to come. Zinzi shares what it was like visiting her mom’s home country of South Africa throughout her childhood and the significance of this place on her identity, the strange ways we process grief and more.
Buy her book HERE!
Portrait courtesy of Vogue
Zinzi is a writer and editor raised in Philadelphia, with roots in South Africa and Trinidad. I received my BA in Critical Theory and Literary Arts from Brown, and my MFA in Fiction from Columbia. My writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Transition, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. I have received fellowships and support from The MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. I am co-founder and former Publisher of Apogee Journal, and I am a Contributing Editor to LitHub.com. I teach literature and creative writing at The Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. My debut novel, What We Lose, as well as a second title, are forthcoming from Viking.
Listen to Rachel Khong on the pod here. Beloved food writer Rachel Khong joins us this week to talk about her debut novel Goodbye, Vitamin. Our very relaxed conversation ranges from how Rachel met her husband, the science of alzheimer’s, and more. Buy Goodbye, Vitamin here.
Listen to Katja Meier here. Without doubt this episode with Katja Meier stands out as one of the very special ones. Katja and I become “Instagram friends” (follow Katja on @anythingtuscan), meaning, we liked each other’s posts and commented on each other’s pics. When Katja told me about her […]
Listen to Christopher Bollen on the pod here.
I’m so excited for this week because I’ve wanted to interview Chris Bollen ever since her was my boss at Interview Magazine where her was editor-in-chief for many years.
This is how I described his new book in Esquire…
Ever wanted to fall into a wealthy friend’s life because it would simply solve everything? In this Talented Mr. Ripley-esque thriller, you’ll get transported to the remote and dazzling Greek island of Patmos where Europe’s glitzy jet set cavort all summer long. When Ian Bledsoe flees New York after the death of his father, he reunites with his childhood best friend Charlie Konstantinou—who, Ian hopes, has riches to spare. Like most things that seem too good to be true, however, there ends up being a sinister twist that shatters his escapist fantasies.
This interview is such a fun one, and perfect to get you in the mood for summer.
Listen to Affinity Konar HERE. This week Affinity Konar and I discuss her harrowing debut novel Mischling, drawn from the tragedy of Auschwitz and Josef Mengele’s experiments on identical twins during World War II. The twins Stasha and Pearl are part of the experimental population of twins […]
Listen to Courtney Sullivan HERE. I’ve been waiting years to have Courtney on the show and her new book finally gave me the chance! We discuss J. Courtney Sullivan’s fourth novel “Saints for All Occasions” about two sisters who leave their small Irish village to make a new life […]
Samantha Irby amassed a cult following with her Bitches Gotta Eat blog and then she wowed her fans with her hilarious and brutally honest memoir, Meaty, which is in TV development by Jessi Klein, head writer for Inside Amy Schumer, and Broad City co-creator/star Abbi Jacobson. Now, in her second book of essays, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Irby continues to share the treasure trove inside her mind. Whether it’s her hilarious application to be a contestant on The Bachelorette, her relationship to $$$ and lipstick, and the life lessons she learned from her 14 years working at an animal hospital, every story will lodge in your brain and keep you wanting more. this conversation was such a thrill, as you will hear we could have gone on all day. I can’t wait to have Sam back in the studio asap.
Let us know what you think of this episode @litupshow on Twitter and Instagram.
Episode 104: Lidia Yuknavitch on the Future of Our Planet, the Mythology of Joan of Arc & Smashing the Patriarchy
Listen to Lidia Yuknavitch HERE. I’ve been waiting two years for Lidia Yuknavitch to return to the pod. We had one of the most illuminating conversations about her novel The Small Backs of Children and her memoir the Chronology of Water, and again we waste no time […]
Listen to Dani Shapiro HERE. This week writer Dani Shapiro joined me to talk about her recent memoir Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, an exquisite and intimate interrogation of her 18-year marriage to “M.” The conversation ranges from the wonderful advice given by her aunt to […]
Pom Klementieff arrives at our meeting on New York’s Upper West Side clutching a dog-eared copy of Hanya Yanagihara‘s haunting novel A Little Life. “It’s beautiful and brutal,” says the 31-year-old actress with a sigh. “I guess I’m drawn to complicated stories.” The daughter of a Russian-French diplomat father and a Korean mother, Klementieff grew up crisscrossing the globe, from Quebec to Kyoto to the Ivory Coast, before settling in the bucolic Vallée de Chevreuse, an hour’s drive from Paris. Perhaps it’s her eclectic heritage (she’ll drop a few “bad” Russian words if you ask nicely) or the slog of making and losing friends every few years as a child, but she possesses an air of resilience and worldliness.
Audiences will get a glimpse of Klementieff’s range in two upcoming indies: Newness, a love story set in the age of Tinder, directed by Drake Doremus and starring Nicholas Hoult; and Ingrid Goes West, a twisted thriller with Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza about the seemingly perfect life of a social media “influencer.” But first, she’ll appear this month in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a sequel to the Marvel blockbuster in which she plays the innocent, bug-like superhero Mantis. “I wore black contact lenses covering my whole eyes,” she says of her role alongside Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana. “I was worried that Mantis’s emotions might not come through, so I found physical ways to show how she’s feeling.” Her unlikeliest inspiration? Mr. Burns, The Simpsons‘ tyrannical curmudgeon, whose hand gestures she mimicked.
Klementieff’s interest in acting was sparked at 16 when she saw the cultish South Korean revenge odyssey Oldboy. “I wanted to be inside the film and part of the creative process that made it come to life,” she says. Instead, she went to law school. “It felt like a pretentious fantasy to say, ‘I want to be an actress,’ ” she admits. “But when I didn’t connect with law, I saw my chance.” After studying drama at the Cours Florent in Paris, Klementieff played opposite Catherine Deneuve in Après Lui, filmed a movie in Siberia (where she learned to ride reindeer), and, in a twist of fate, fought (quite literally) for her part in Spike Lee’s 2013 remake of Oldboy. She still studies boxing and tae kwan do in Los Angeles, where she’s lived for four years. “When I walk down the street, I feel stronger,” she says. “It’s crazy that as women we are taught to be cute and nice and polite, when we should learn to be less nice sometimes.”
I wrote this for Elle! The Full Frontal host discussed Trump’s damaging use of language with journalist Masha Gessen at the PEN World Voices Festival. “Waking up every morning is like having a tennis ball machine and having the tennis balls shoot us in the […]
Listen to Kristen Radtke HERE.
Kristen Radtke masters a mode of storytelling that’s uniquely her own in her graphic memoir, “Imagine Wanting Only This.” Eerily-haunting, her book explores how certain special people touch and shape our lives, and why we’re sometimes attracted to places (and people) in various states of ruin and unraveling. This genre-smashing novel (and our pod conversation) never shies away from the big questions: Why are we here, and what will we leave behind?
Enjoy this show!
Buy “Imagine Wanting Only This” HERE.
Kristen Radtke is the author of the graphic nonfiction book Imagine Wanting Only This (Pantheon, 2017). She is the managing editor of Sarabande Books and the film & video editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. She lives and works in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter @kristenradtke.
Listen to Kelly Oxford HERE. This weeks guest, Kelly Oxford, tells it like it is — and she inspires millions of other women to speak their minds and share their experiences too. Her first book of essays “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar” was an […]
What a treat to be mentioned in Stephanie Danler’s Grub Street Diet piece, Drinks Butterbeer, Manzanilla Sherry, and Lots of Campari by Sierra Tishgart “So many reasons to love Marlow …” Photo: Liz Clayman Since Sweetbitter was published last May, it has gone on to become […]
Listen to Viet Thanh Nguyen HERE.
The multi-talented Nguyen knows what it means to inhabit a life radically shaped by history. In 1975, he and his family came to The United States as refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War. His debut novel, The Sympathizer, winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize, revisited the conflict that changed the trajectory of his life and inserted a much-needed Vietnamese perspective to the largely American-driven narrative. In The Refugees, a collection of stories nearly two decades in the making, he gives voice to the Vietnamese communities in Southern California (where he grew up) and to those living in the country he fled, acknowledging that the ghosts of war reverberate for generations. Our conversation jumps right into the personal and there are surprises! I have to admit that this convo was an all time favorite. I hope you enjoy listening to it unfold.
Buy The Refugees here.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He has been interviewed by Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, Seth Meyers, and Terry Gross, among many others. His current book is the bestselling short story collection, The Refugees.
Listen to Julie Buntin HERE. My brilliant and dear friend Julie Buntin joins me to dive beyond the pages of her remarkable novel, Marlena. She tells the story of two girls, Cat & Marlena, and the wild year that will cost one her life, and […]
Listen to Alyssa Mastromonaco HERE. Subscribe on iTunes HERE. How does a fastidious IGA check-out chick and public school kid from upstate New York, with no connections and no Ivy League education, end up a few feet from the Oval Office, working as the youngest-ever […]
Whether you prefer your reading sexy and satirical, political and polarizing, or simply amusing, the year’s best releases are guaranteed to hit the spot by providing some much-needed escapism, while challenging the status quo and sparking timely conversation. The best books of 2017 (so far, that is) will guide us through this messy year with the opportunity to see the world beyond our close confines, allow us to learn more deeply about the human experience, or simply offer valuable entertainment. We live in exhausting times—why not escape for a bit with a book?
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
A self-described professional explorer, Levy likens the exhilaration of orienting herself amongst new people and new surroundings to the euphoric early weeks with a new lover—think heightened senses and heady in-the-moment intensity. She’s crisscrossed the globe in search of these unique experiences as a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2008, and now turns her interrogative eye on herself. What results is profound, and lasting. Growing out of an essay called “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” Rules Do Not Apply reveals what happens when nature decides to smash the plans you’ve made, and derail what you thought was your life.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
“In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.” This opening sentence sets the scene for this swiftly told love story between Nadia and Saeed, whose relationship is pressurized and contorted by war. In this unnamed city, suspended somewhere between the past, the present, and the future, text messages and one hour of daily internet connection link Nadia and Saeed with the world beyond a home that is disintegrating day by day. First the rich flee, then communication halts, and as the violence escalates they must decide how and when to escape their crumbling homeland. This timely novel brings the frightening reality of war outside your window up close and makes it deeply personal.
Celine by Peter Heller
Though born in New York City, Peter Heller has turned himself into an inveterate adventurer, eco-pirate, and surfer whose life and work has been defined by the remote parts of the globe he’s explored. In his new detective novel Celine, he returns (momentarily) to the place of his childhood, with a story inspired by the life of his own remarkable mother, a stylish and rule-breaking private eye. Celine wrestles with themes of family, loss and privilege—and when a photographer’s mauled body shows up in Yellowstone National Park, a cold trail gets warmer and a daughter’s need for the truth ratchets up the suspense.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco
How does a fastidious IGA check-out chick and public school kid from upstate New York, with no connections and no Ivy League education, end up a few feet from the Oval Office, working as the youngest-ever woman to be deputy chief of staff for the president of the United States? Mastromonaco shares the memories and mishaps that shaped her journey, from desperately trying (and failing) to get a job in politics after college to finding herself joking with Obama about his penchant for black mock turtlenecks. This relatable memoir is packed with juicy on-the-road stories and crisis management advice, and presents a strong case for embracing a sense of humor in the face of humbling setbacks.
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
Ever fantasize about “opening up” your relationship or marriage? If so, you can live vicariously through another couple’s experiences in Dunn’s comedic novel before you give it a whirl yourself. When Lucy and Owen’s friends reveal that they’re giving open marriage a shot at a boozy dinner party, Lucy shudders at the thought. Still, she can see the appeal of indulging in some no questions asked rendezvous’ in the city—just for six months, as an experiment, of course. What could go possibly wrong? This funny and relatable tale from the writer who crafted many of the mishap-laden stories on Murphy Brown and Spin City delivers the perfect escapist read in these angsty political times.
Listen to Mohsin Hamid HERE. Sure to win a swath of awards this year, Mohsin Hamid‘s timely and important novel Exit West is about young lovers Nadia and Saeed, whose relationship is pressurized and contorted by war. In this unnamed city, suspended somewhere between the […]
Listen to Ariel Levy on the podcast HERE.
This week’s guest is Ariel Levy, a self-described professional explorer. She’s crisscrossed the globe in search of these unique experiences as a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2008, and now turns her interrogative eye on herself. What results is profound, and lasting. Growing out of an essay called “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” Rules Do Not Apply reveals what happens when nature decides to smash the plans you’ve made, and derail what you thought was your life.
This conversation is one I’ll remember all my life. I hope it resonates with you too.
Here’s how she turned challenges–like moving to a new country, struggling to lose weight, and battling endometriosis–into opportunities. PHOTO: FLICKR USER ELLEN WALLOP, ASIA SOCIETY It’s easy to look at Padma Lakshmi and think, here is a person made for the spotlight. But for […]
New York’s Chicest Women-Only Club In a matter of months, The Wing already has a 3000-strong waiting list. (lead image credit: Harper’s Bazaar) The pastel-hued Wing. Photo: Supplied Late last year, after a decade trying to make it in New York’s hectic media world, with a weekly […]
Listen to Jami Attenberg HERE.
Jami Attenberg is the best! I’ve been waiting to have her back on the show ever since Emily and I interviewed her about her last book Saint Mazie. As you will hear, All Grown Up, knocked me about and triggered a lot, but in the very best heart-expanding, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life? way. If you’ve ever been single, infatuated, partnered up, in a weird, not-right relationship (this excludes no one)… if you love your mom so hard and in the same moment think she might be killing you with her emotions, this fantastic novel is for you. Jami’s protagonist Andrea is the hysterical truth-teller you’ve been looking for. Big revelations in this convo. I’m sure you’ll have some too if you listen up.
Buy All Grown Up here.
Jami Attenberg has written about sex, technology, design, books, television, and urban life for The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Lenny Letter and others. In March 2017, HMH Books will release her novel All Grown Up. It will also be published in the UK, Italy, Holland, Poland, France and Germany.
Her debut collection of stories, Instant Love, was published in 2006, followed by the novels The Kept Man and The Melting Season. Her fourth book, The Middlesteins, was published in October 2012. It appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, and was published in ten countries in 2013. It was also a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and the St. Francis College Literary Prize, and has been optioned by Showtime. A fifth book, Saint Mazie, was published in 2015 in the U.S. and the UK, and in Italy, France and Germany in 2016, and has been optioned by Fable Pictures. All Grown Up will be published in 2017 in the US and the UK, and in Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Poland and Turkey in 2017.
She divides her time between New Orleans, LA and Brooklyn, NY.
Listen to Jin Min Lee HERE. I’m excited to celebrate International Women’s Day with my convo with writer Min Jin Lee, whose latest novel Pachinko is a stellar example of female resilience through the ages. Pachinko illuminates a period of history unknown to many of us – early […]
Listen to JENNIFER WRIGHT HERE. I’ve wanted to have Jennifer Wright on the pod ever since I read her first book, It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History. Jennifer has a rare ability to make history funny, titivating, and relevant, in way I’ve not […]
Listen to AYELET WALDMAN’S EPISODE HERE. This episode is sure to have you rethinking all you know about LSD and drugs in general. In her memoir, A Really Good Day – How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, Ayelet […]
Episode 88: Patricia Bosworth on The Men in Her Life, Her Time at The Actors Studio & Tea with Audrey Hepburn & Givenchy
Patricia Bosworth has written biographies about Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Diane Arbus, and now she applies her talents to her own fascinating life in her second memoir, The Men in My Life. The book chronicles Bosworth’s adolescence and sexual awakening, her foray into modeling for the likes of Arbus, as well as her time in Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, treading the boards alongside Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Marilyn Monroe. Before becoming a writer, she starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in the 1959 film The Nun’s Story, and the stories about her time shooting the film in Rome are gripping to say the least. All the glamour and excitement of this period is haunted by her brother and father’s suicide, and in this conversation Patricia opens up about what is like being a “suicide survivor” and how it irreversibly affected her life. I adored our time together and I hope you like listening to what became of it.
Buy The Men in My Life here.
Patricia Bosworth is an American journalist and biographer living in New York City. She is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair. A winner of the Front Page Award, she’s taught literary non-fiction at Columbia University’s School of Journalism and Barnard College. A long-time board member of the Actors Studio. She’s also the author of bestselling biographies of Montgomery Clift, Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando and the photographer Diane Arbus, the latter of which was made into the movie Fur starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. Her first memoir about her family and the Hollywood Blacklist is entitled Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story. Her second memoir, entitled The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950’s Manhattan.
Upcoming Lit Up podcast guest Ayelet Waldman was featured in The Sunday Book Review in the New York Times sharing her favorite books. Next week she’ll be on the show to talk about her most recent book, A Really Good Day about micro dosing with LSD. Illustration […]
Whether you prefer your reading sexy and satirical, political and polarizing or simply amusing, these stand-out books in February are guaranteed to hit the spot by providing some much-needed escapism, while challenging the status quo and sparking timely conversation. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen […]
This week’s episode with writer and photographer Rachel Hulin is the perfect antidote to these politically uncertain times–sometimes you simply need to sit down with a smart and lovely person and have a conversation that snaps you into the moment and leads to unexpected places.
As well as talking about Rachel’s witty and refreshing novel, Hey Harry, Hey Matilda, (about two, very funny, codependent twins searching for comfort and belonging), we also chat about hormone horoscopes, how her book grew out of a blog and into the first Instagram novel, and so much more. Rachel was a photo editor at Rolling Stone and one of her recent pieces for Salon, My year with Amy Winehouse: What I learned watching her through paparazzi lenses, draws on that time.
I hope you enjoy this conversation.
Buy Hey Harry, Hey Matilda here.
Rachel Hulin is a photographer and writer. Her photographs have been shown at Jen Bekman Gallery, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Wallspace Gallery, The New York Photo Festival, and ClampArt Gallery, where she is represented.
She’s worked as a photo editor at Rolling Stone, Radar Magazine, and Nerve.com. Her personal essays and art writing have appeared in Salon, The Daily Beast, The Photography Post, which she co-founded.
Her editorial photographs have appeared include The New York Times and The New Republic. In 2013 she released a children’s book Flying Henry with an accompanying photo exhibit.
LISTEN TO ROXANE GAY HERE. I’ve read Roxane Gay’s work ever since I discovered her writing in grad school in 2010. Whenever there’s a huge cultural moment–a political catastrophe, an attack on Feminism, or breaking Channing Tatum news—I’m eager to see what she has to […]
Hello 2017! We are back with an exciting lineup for the year that will hopefully inspire, challenge, and provoke. LISTEN TO LUCINDA ROSENFELD HERE. This week Lucinda Rosenfeld talks about her most recent novel “Class.” The novel is as provocative as the title suggests. It’s […]
I’ve been following author, broadcaster, journalist, and fellow Australian Julia Baird for more than a decade. In fact, I’ve been lurking around waiting for an opportunity to speak with her because I admire her work so much. Now she’s written the most incredible book, Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire, I’ve got my chance!
Don’t be fooled by the demure portrait of Victoria on the cover—here is a woman who reigned over a quarter of the world’s population at the height of her rule. (She also bore nine children and survived eight assassination attempts.) In Baird’s deft portrayal, Victoria lives, breathes, and struts before us in all her complexity, and so do her consorts, particularly her politically ambitious husband Prince Albert—and later her “Scottish stallion” and probable lover, John Brown. On a geopolitical level, Baird’s sweeping historical portrait also illuminates just how interconnected the European royal families were during this time—Victoria’s Belgian cousin, King Leopold II, perpetrated genocide in the Congo while her German nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II, would go on to initiate World War I. Historical astuteness aside, the pages gallop along enhanced by titillating morsels of info—like a certain Prime Minister’s predilection for whipping, in and out of the bedroom.
I hope this conversation gives you a taste of just how compelling Queen Victoria is as a subject, and most of all, how fabulous a story teller and biographer Julia is. Please let us know what you think of the conversation @litupshow & @bairdjulia on Twitter.
Buy Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire here.
Julia Baird a journalist, broadcaster and author based in Sydney, Australia. She hosts The Drum on ABCTV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar.
Baird was based in the USA until 2011, working at Newsweek as columnist and deputy editor. She began work at the magazine as senior editor for Science, Society and Ideas. She edited and wrote cover stories on subjects including human evolution, the history of climate change denial, the mysterious lives of surrogate mothers, the politics of transgender, the significance of 1968, and the then vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as well as a profile of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. In 2010 she moved with her family to Philadelphia and worked as a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Baird began her career in journalism at the Sydney Morning Herald, where she worked as a columnist, oped editor, education reporter and election editor. In 2006 and again at the end of 2011 she was the host of the in depth interview radio program “Sunday Profile” on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2012, she covered the US presidential campaign in Iowa for The Monthly, the ABC, and the Sun-Herald.
In 2005, Baird was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press and Public Policy at Harvard, researching the global response to American opinion in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Her Ph.D., on female politicians and the press, formed the basis of her book, Media Tarts: How the Australian Press Frames Female Politicians (2004). Baird has also taught history (20th century cultural history and personal narratives, involving the study of letters, diaries and journals), and made radio documentaries on subjects as diverse as black metal music and convent education.
Baird received both her B.A. and Ph.D. in history from Sydney University. She is a regular commentator on television and radio. She has also become expert in making play-doh, bug catchers and brownies for her two little kids, and lives near the sea, which she swims in as long and often as she can.
LISTEN to Siri Hustvedt on the pod HERE. For many years I’ve read Siri Hustvedt’s work and marveled at her intelligence. The breadth of her knowledge–of the sciences, arts and literature– is mind boggling. Now, she shares another example of her genius with the world; […]
There may not have been a more positive presence in the Lit Up studio than that of Jade Chang. It’s little wonder that she’s the author of the astute, funny, and sharp novel, The Wangs vs. the World, a road trip romp about the Wangs, a Chinese American family who’ve lost their cosmetics empire fortune. The mischievous patriarch Charles, Barbra his second wife, and Charles’s three children; Sina, a disgraced art world wunderkind; Andrew, an aspiring stand up comic; and high school fashion blogger, Grace; must cross the country redefine what the American dream means to them.
Jade’s book prompted so many threads of conversation, from her own family’s history to the state of politics in America. My time with Jade lifted my spirits and I hope it lifts yours too.
Jade Chang has covered arts and culture as a journalist and editor. She is the recipient of a Sundance Fellowship for Arts Journalism, the AIGA/Winterhouse Award for Design Criticism, and the James D. Houston Memorial scholarship from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. The Wangs vs. the World is her debut novel. She lives in Los Angeles.
LISTEN TO TREVOR NOAH HERE. Riveting. Humble. Inspiring. This is how I would describe comedian, writer, and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah. This week he joined me at NeueHouse, in New York, for an intimate conversation about his memoir Born a Crime, which should be required reading […]
Immerse yourself in the life of a young documentarian searching for her roots in a seaside Indian pilgrim town in Sleeping on Jupiter, Anuradha Roy’s most recent novel about the legacy of war and the state of womanhood in India. One of the pleasures of […]
This week we have Emma Donoghue on the show to talk about her latest novel, The Wonder. She’s the author of five story collections and eight other novels, including Room (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and adapted, with a screenplay by Donoghue, into last year’s Academy Award-winning film.
In The Wonder, a small Irish village is mystified by a little girl who refuses to eat. Anna O’Donnell says she’s being kept alive by her faith in God. In this conversation we hear about the fasting girls from history that inspired Emma’s book, the fairies that inhabit the Irish countryside, and more.
You can read Stephen King’s New York Times review of The Wonder here.
This week we decided to switch it up and have two of our favorite literary professionals share their favorite books of the season. Steph Opitz is the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine and celebrates books via work with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and the […]
With all the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court and the upcoming election and the landmark opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer last week that struck down a Texas law that would have closed all but nine abortion clinics in the state–supported by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg–it seemed […]
What a week. After many, many months of (admittedly very fun) preparation, Lit Up is here. Thank you for listening and for helping launch our pod into the world. With your help we made it onto the iTunes New & Noteworthy list, hurrah! We […]