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Zadie Smith on Her New Historical Novel

Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Zadie Smith’s new novel, “The Fraud,” is set in 19th-century England, and introduces a teeming cast of characters at the periphery of a trial in which the central figure claimed to be a long-lost nobleman entitled to a fortune. Smith discusses her new novel with Sarah Lyall.

Also on this week’s episode, the Times reporters Alexandra Alter and Julia Jacobs discuss a recent controversy involving the National Book Awards and their decision to drop Drew Barrymore as this year’s master of ceremonies in solidarity with the Hollywood writers’ strike.

Elon Musk's Biography and Profiling Naomi Klein

Fri, 15 Sep 2023

Elon Musk, the billionaire South Africa-born entrepreneur whose business interests include the electric car company Tesla, the private rocket company SpaceX and the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), is the richest person in the world — and the subject of an expansive new biography by Walter Isaacson, whose earlier subjects famously include the Apple founder Steve Jobs. Our critic Jennifer Szalai discusses her review of the Musk biography.

Szalai also discusses her recent Times Magazine profile of the writer and activist Naomi Klein, whose new book, “Doppelganger,” examines the “mirror world” of online conspiracy theories and paranoia and its effect on real-world politics.

Talking to Stephen King and September Books to Check Out

Fri, 08 Sep 2023

Stephen King’s new novel, “Holly,” is his sixth book to feature the private investigator Holly Gibney, who made her debut as a mousy side character in the 2014 novel “Mr. Mercedes” and has become more complicated and interesting with each subsequent appearance. King appears on the podcast this week to tell the host Gilbert Cruz about Holly’s hold on his imagination and the ways she overlaps with parts of his own personality. Along the way, he also tells a dad joke, remembers his friend Peter Straub, and discusses his views on writing and life.

Also on this episode, Cruz talks with Joumana Khatib about some of the month’s most anticipated new titles. Here are the books discussed in this week’s September preview:

“The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith

“Elon Musk,” by Walter Isaacson

“The Iliad,” by Homer. Translated by Emily Wilson

“Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier,” by Marisa Meltzer

“Land of Milk and Honey,” by C. Pam Zhang

“American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15,” by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson

Amor Towles Sees Dead People

Fri, 18 Aug 2023

The novelist Amor Towles, whose best-selling books include “Rules of Civility,” “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “The Lincoln Highway,” contributed an essay to the Book Review recently in which he discussed the evolving role the cadaver has played in detective fiction and what it says about the genre’s writers and readers.

Towles visits the podcast this week to chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about that essay, as well as his path to becoming a novelist after an early career in finance.

Also on this week’s episode, Sarah Lyall, a writer at large for The Times, interviews the actor Richard E. Grant about his new memoir, “A Pocketful of Happiness,” and about his abiding love for the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

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What to Read in August

Fri, 11 Aug 2023

Sarah Lyall discusses a new thriller in which a scuba diver gets swallowed by a sperm whale and Joumana Khatib gives recommendations for five August titles.

Books discussed on this week's episode: 

“Anansi’s Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World,” by Yepoka Yeebo

“The Bee Sting,” by Paul Murray

“The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times,” by Wolfram Eilenberger

“Pet,” by Catherine Chidgey

“Happiness Falls,” by Angie Kim

“Whalefall,” by Daniel Kraus

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