Literary Friction

Literary Friction

By Literary Friction

A monthly conversation about books and ideas on NTS Radio hosted by friends Carrie Plitt, a literary agent, and Octavia Bright, a writer and academic. Each show features an author interview, book recommendations, lively discussion and a little music too, all built around a related theme - anything from the novella to race to masculinity. Listen live on NTS Radio


Minisode Thirty-Seven: Etiquette

Our theme this month was inspired by a recent story in New York magazine about, as they described it, “How to text, tip, ghost, host, and generally exist in polite society today.” The idea behind this list of 140 rules is that the last three years have completely changed the way that we live and work, and also that everyone seems to have forgotten how to be in society, so we need a new code of conduct. This got us thinking about etiquette, advice more generally, and how it relates to literature. So, we’ll be getting into our thoughts on etiquette lists and advice columns(including our favourite agony aunts), what the novel has to say about manners, plus all the usual recommendations.
09/03/23·45m 3s

Literary Friction - Journalism with Tania Branigan

When journalists write books, how do they balance the potentially tricky relationship between weaving a compelling narrative and sticking to the facts? What's the role of storytelling in reportage? And what are the ethics of reporting on other peoples' lived experiences? This month our guest is Tania Branigan, foreign leader writer at The Guardian and author of Red Memory: Living, Remembering and Forgetting China’s Cultural Revolution. Tania was a correspondent in China for seven years, and Red Memory is about the Cultural Revolution, a decade of upheaval, purging and torture that began under Chairman Mao in 1966. Crucially, it’s also about the act of both remembering and forgetting this period, and the role the Chinese government and people have played in that process. Listen in for our chat with Tania, an exploration of journalism in literature and all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Journalism: Octavia: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion Carrie: The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean General recommendations: Octavia: Archaeology of Loss by Sarah Tarlow Tania: The Soviet Century, archaeology of a lost world by Karl Schlogel Carrie: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
23/02/23·59m 41s

Minisode Thirty-six: Money

Money makes the world go round: it's an inescapable presence in our lives, and yet in a lot of cultures it's still a pretty big conversational taboo. Here in the UK right now there’s a serious cost of living crisis after years of terrible Conservative rule, the newspapers are full of often extremely patronising articles about how to ‘tighten your belt’, and it feels like everyone is talking about money without necessarily really talking about money. Are all books to some extent about money? Does the novel offer a useful way into thinking and talking about it? And where does the myth of The Writer who can afford to live off their writing alone come into it? Listen in as we dig into this, plus all the usual recommendations. Enjoy!
09/02/23·46m 30s

Literary Friction - The Lives of Others with Kathryn Scanlan

Portraits of real people abound in books. There are novels that use transcribed conversations, like Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be, or fiction based on historical or even living people, like Curtis Sittenfield’s Rodham. Our guest this month is the writer Kathryn Scanlan who joined us from the States to talk about her riveting new novel, Kick the Latch, which is based upon a series of conversations that Kathryn had with a woman named Sonia about her joyful and brutal life as a trainer for racehorses. Lydia Davis called Kick the Latch a “magical act of empathic ventriloquy”, and this show is about literature that engages in similar ways with the lives of others. We’ll be getting into things like the ethics of writing from another life in fiction, the art of biography, and our favourite literary portraits, plus all our usual reading recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, The Lives of Others: Octavia: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Carrie: Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow General recommendations: Octavia: Avalon by Nell Zink Kathryn: Guston in Time: Remembering Philip Guston by Ross Feld Carrie: Foster by Claire Keegan Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
26/01/23·58m 29s

Minisode Thirty-Five: Food and Feasting

Our January theme is heavily influenced by this time of year. Because the winter months are full of different feast days and celebrations, and because generally in the northern hemisphere it's a time where you just want to cocoon inside and feel warm, cosy and nurtured, we thought we’d talk about food and feasting in all kinds of literature. Whether in fiction or non-fiction, does reading about food make your mouth water? What can good food writing open up for a reader? And what about the politics of what kinds of food gets written about? Listen in for all this and more, plus our usual cultural recommendations.
05/01/23·46m 47s

Literary Friction - RE-RUN: Abstract Romanticism with Chris Kraus

We're on our end of year break, but didn't want to leave you without some LF to keep you company while you cook up your leftovers and potter around in your new socks. So, inspired by one of our new listeners, Charlotte, who tweeted to tell us how much she enjoyed an old episode, we’re re-running one of our favourite conversations from way back: in 2016 we met with Chris Kraus to talk about her book I Love Dick, which was being published in the UK for the first time. It's a classic of feminist literature first published in the States in 1997, a genre-bending novel about lust, desire and making art that investigates the power of infatuation and subverts the convention of the muse. We hope you enjoy listening and we'll be back with an absolutely belting new season in 2023!
29/12/22·58m 38s

Literary Friction - Year in Review 2022

Somehow it's already our last Literary Friction of 2022, which means as usual it's time for our year in review show, packed full of recommendations just in time for your holiday shopping. We've got you - and your Uncle Joe - covered, so listen in for some of our favourite reads from the last year, the usual gentle check in on how our reading revolutions from 2021 went (clue: still patchy), plus books we're looking forward to in 2023. We've posted a list of all the recommendations from this year on our page at so click the link below to see everything lined up, and please remember to support your local independent bookshop by buying in store! Happy holidays everyone, catch you on the flipside with our extremely hot programme for 2023. List of books recommended in this episode: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
15/12/22·1h 5m

Minisode Thirty-Four: Swearing

Nothing beats a good, carefully deployed swear word - or sometimes even a sloppily deployed one. We decided that this month we would make a minisode dedicated to swearing, that fabulously creative, often blasphemous, sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening corner of any language. We will be swearing profusely through this episode, so if that doesn’t put you off, join us for an irreverent ride through some of our favourite profanities and the writers that use them.
19/11/22·47m 50s

Literary Friction - Deception with Yiyun Li

When it comes to fiction, why are people so obsessed with authenticity and so appalled by literary deception? Does it matter who tells a story? And what do novels that confront these ideas have to tell us? Our guest this month is the writer Yiyun Li, whose latest novel The Book of Goose is about an intense friendship between two girls in rural postwar France. When Agnes and Fabienne write a book of stories together, a simple lie about the book’s authorship sends Agnes’ life in an unexpected direction. So in honour of their act of literary creation - and obfuscation - we wanted to devote our show to the idea of literary deception. Listen in for thoughts on authenticity, literary hoaxes, unreliable narrators and all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Deception: Octavia: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee Carrie: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante General recommendations: Octavia: Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez Yiyun: The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken Carrie: The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
11/11/22·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Graphic Novels with Lizzy Stewart

In this show we're getting to grips with graphic novels. What's the history of this kind of storytelling? What narrative possibilities does the form open up? We first explored this theme with the artist Nick Hayes all the way back in 2014 before this show was even a podcast, and we're returning to it now because our guest this month is the writer and artist Lizzy Stewart, whose debut graphic novel Alison was published this year. Alison is a subtle and beautiful story of a young woman who leaves her marriage and her rural life in Dorset for a much older, more sophisticated and famous painter in 1970s London. There she learns to find her own artistic voice, and reflects on a life lived in art. Listen in for a discussion of the graphic novels we love, the joys of the form, and all the usual reading recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Graphic Novels: Octavia: The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel Carrie: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso General recommendations: Octavia: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall Lizzy: Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan Carrie: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
20/10/22·59m 24s

Literary Friction - Playing Games with Gabrielle Zevin

This month we’re delighted to welcome Gabrielle Zevin to Literary Friction. Gabrielle’s latest novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is an engrossing and moving story of a multi-decade creative partnership between two video game designers, so we thought it only appropriate to make our theme today ‘playing games’. Listen in as we explore how games function in books like The Queen’s Gambit or Mansfield Park, the allure of choose your own adventure novels and the unique art of a game. Recommendations on the theme, Playing Games: Octavia: The King Must Die by Mary Renault Carrie: Roger Federer as Religious Experience by David Foster Wallace General Recommendations: Octavia: Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère Gabrielle: Trust by Hernan Diaz Carrie: Alison by Lizzie Stewart Ezra Klein interview with C Thi Nguyen: Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
06/10/22·59m 53s

Rediscovery with Jamaica Kincaid and Stu Wilson (Picador Sponsored Episode)

For this minisode we’re doing something a little different - this episode is sponsored by publisher Picador, who this year have launched a new list of contemporary classics, called The Picador Collection, to coincide with their 50th anniversary year. With the aim of bringing seminal titles to a new generation of readers, the Picador Collection combines the gravitas of a modern classics list with the eccentric, boundary-pushing spirit of cult paperback publishing. To celebrate the collection, we interviewed the inimitable Antiguan-American writer Jamaica Kincaid, who has five books featured on this list. Then we talked to Stu Wilson, from the art department at Picador. The Picador Collection titles all have a fresh new look, designed by Katie Tooke, and Stu will be telling us about the work that went into designing the series, and the fascinating process of cover design more generally. We are ALSO running a competition with Picador! 5 lucky listeners will win a sturdy and now very rare Literary Friction tote, along with each of our two favourite titles from the Picador Collection, plus one of Jamaica’s books, which means five books in total - if you want to find who chose what (and see if you can guess…) check out both of our socials: @picadorbooks and @litfriction on Twitter and Instagram. The competition is now LIVE and will be open until the 6th of October, so you have a two week window to enter! You can find more details here:
22/09/22·55m 33s

Minisode Thirty-Three: Correspondence

It's autumn in the UK and we're full of that back to school feeling - fresh pencils, new pens and notebooks - so what better time for a minisode about correspondence. This theme was suggested by our patron Liza and we got really into it, not just because it's such a rich topic in literature (epistolary novels! fictional instant messenger chats! meaningful emails sent between friends!), but also because it got us thinking about the role of correspondence in our own lives (see: our ten years of conversation on whatsapp). So, listen in for our thoughts on writing and receiving letters, the romance of a good email, and a whole lot more. We're glad to be back!
08/09/22·45m 47s

Literary Friction - RE-RUN: a Spoonful of Sugar with Leïla Slimani

We're on our summer break, which means we can re-run this excellent conversation we had with the French-Moroccan author Leïla Slimani in 2018. Leïla came in to talk to us about her second novel Lullaby (or Chanson Douce in French) which is about a middle-class couple in Paris and the nanny they hire to care for their children, who at first seems like the perfect caretaker. Inspired by the book, our theme was nannies, and the fascinating and sometimes fraught place that they occupy in our culture and in our books, from the magic caretaking of Mary Poppins to the killer babysitters of slasher B-movies. So, tune in for a spoonful of sugar and we'll be back with a brilliant new programme in September.
12/08/22·58m 13s

Fandom with Sheena Patel

When does fandom tip over into unhealthy obsession? What are the power dynamics of being someone's fan, and how do they get exploited? This month author Sheena Patel joins Carrie to talk about her debut, I'm A Fan, a novel that gets to grips with power and relationships and what it means to be a fan. Octavia came back for the show chat to continue the conversations about fans and fandom - are we living in the age of the stan? What about celebrity memoirs? All this plus all the usual recommendations, we hope you enjoy it, love from your biggest fans at Team LF. Recommendations on the theme, Fandom: Octavia: Bluets by Maggie Nelson Carrie: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh General Recommendations: Sheena: We Move by Gurnaik Johal and An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life by Paul Dalla Rosa Carrie: Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
23/07/22·58m 34s

Minisode Thirty-Two: A Short History of Literary Friction (Patreon Sneak Peek)

For this month's minisode, we thought we'd give our listeners a preview of some of the bonus minisodes that we're creating for our patreon subscribers. This is one we recorded in May 2021, and it's all about the history of Literary Friction. We had a lot of fun thinking back to when we were baby interviewers, so listen in for the fruits of Carrie's archival digging, our memories of the night we first met all those moons ago (clue: big earrings and a jumpsuit were involved), and our high points and low points over the years. We hope you enjoy it, and head over to if you'd like to support our show and hear more episodes like this one.
30/06/22·44m 58s

Literary Friction Special - Elif Batuman

This month we're bringing you an author special with Elif Batuman, who joined Carrie in cyberspace to talk about her hilarious and original second novel Either/Or. In this extended interview, they discussed what makes a novel political, snobberies about structure and storytelling, learning to be funny on Twitter, the allure of the '90s, and much more. Plus the usual book recommendations. We hope you enjoy! Recommendations: Elif: The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin Carrie: Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
24/06/22·50m 53s

Minisode Thirty-One: Parties

Spring is finally really happening here in the UK: the roses are out, we’ve swapped our coats for jackets, we even had dinner together outside the other night and watching the city come to life made us think about parties. Remember them? Parties! Outfits! Strangers in close proximity! The agony and the ecstasy of all that might happen... So, listen in for an ode to parties good, bad, imaginary and literary, plus all the usual recommendations. PLUS, your last chance to get your hands on one of our excellent tote bags, here: Patrons get an extra 20% off and you can subscribe here:
02/06/22·46m 17s

Minisode Thirty: Libraries

This minisode is a sister to our last one about bookshops - this month, we're talking about libraries. We love libraries! Those other places where you can go to get your hands on the books you want, the books you don’t yet know you want, the books that want you, and everything in between. Listen in for stories of the libraries and librarians that shaped us, our favourite libraries around the world, libraries in books and movies (Giles from Buffy gets an honourable mention) plus all the usual cultural recommendations. We are also about to launch another sale of our gorgeous, sturdy LF tote bags on Etsy in the next week or so, and there will be a special discount for Patrons. Keep your eyes on our socials for more info!
05/05/22·50m 2s

The Instant with Amy Liptrot

Whether it’s a single action that reverberates around a community, or the rupture of a break-up, literature is filled with memorable instants after which everything changes. Our guest this month is Amy Liptrot, who joined us from Orkney to talk about her second book The Instant, a memoir of Amy’s move from Scotland to Berlin, where she searches for racoons, tracks the moon, goes to techno clubs, looks for boyfriends, falls in love and has her heart broken. It’s also about connectivity and the instants that change our lives, and so in honour of Amy’s book our theme today is ‘the instant’ - we’ll be thinking about those moments in literature when things turn on a dime. Sit back, enjoy, and let us change the course of your life over the next hour on literary friction. Recommendations on the theme, The Instant: Octavia: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld Carrie: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene General Recommendations: Octavia: Body Work: the radical power of personal narrative by Melissa Febos Amy: Time on Rock: A Climber's Route Into The Mountains by Anna Fleming Carrie: Man's Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
30/04/22·1h 0m

Minisode Twenty-Nine: Bookshops

The theme for this minisode was suggested by our patron Maria and it's a subject very close to our hearts: bookshops. We love bookshops - those magical places where you can get your hands on the books you want, the books you don’t yet know you want, the books that want you, and everything in between. Listen in for this ode to everything we love about bookshops and booksellers, including our earliest memories of hanging out in bookshops, our favourite bookshops in the UK and around the world, plus all the usual cultural recommendations. Enjoy!
07/04/22·47m 22s

Satire with Pola Oloixarac

We love a good satire here at LF, so we're thrilled this month to bring you a show dedicated to the form. Argentine writer and novelist Pola Oloixarac joined us from Barcelona to talk about her latest novel Mona, which has been translated from Spanish by Adam Morris. It's the story of a young Peruvian novelist invited to Sweden, where she's in the running for one of the most prestigious literary awards in Europe. There, she has a number of hilarious run-ins with authors from all over the world, but lurking beneath the surface is a memory of violence which cannot be fully suppressed. It's a biting and very funny satire of the literary world, so in honour of Mona this show is all about our favourite satirical work, from The Master and the Margarita to Catch 22. We'll get into what we think makes satire successful, and also some of the times it can fall flat, plus all the usual recommendations. Enjoy! Recommendations on the theme, Satire: Octavia: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov Carrie: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller General Recommendations: Octavia: The Liars' Club by Mary Karr Pola: Borges by Adolfo Bioy Casares, translated by Valerie Miles (NY Review of Books) Carrie: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
24/03/22·58m 23s

Minisode Twenty-Eight: Fathers

Our last minisode was about mothers, so in the name of equity (and riffing on Octavia’s statement that she’d rather be a dad) we’re extending the conversation to fathers in literature. The figure of the father has its own heavy symbolism, wrapped up with masculinity and the need to provide, and literature is filled with fathers from the admirable to the monstrous. We ask whether we expect as much from fathers in life and in books, and whether being a ‘bad’ father might pose a different kind of threat. Plus we get into the father memoir, how expectations are shifting, and the power of shame in creating more equal parenting roles. Enjoy!
16/03/22·46m 24s

East Side Voices with Helena Lee and Will Harris

This month's show is about East and Southeast Asian identity in Britain. We spoke to journalist Helena Lee about East Side Voices, the anthology of writing she edited that celebrates the diversity of these voices in the UK. We also spoke to poet and writer Will Harris about the poem he contributed and some of the other pieces from the collection, which features writers including Mary Jean Chan, Sharlene Teo, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan and Catherine Cho. These essays and poems cover a range of experiences and settings, from the set of Harry Potter to the NHS frontlines, and seek to combat the absence of representation in British culture in which East and Southeast Asian lives are often, to use Salman Rushdie’s words, "visible but unseen". Listen in for readings, music, plus all the usual recommendations. Recommendations: Octavia: Pisti, 80 rue de Belleville by Estelle Hoy Helena: Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda Will: Ultimatum Orangutan by Khairani Barokka Carrie: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
24/02/22·54m 23s

Minisode Twenty-Seven: Mothers

In honour of the fact that a lot of our friends are suddenly becoming parents, this minisode is dedicated to mothers in literature. The figure of the mother is seriously heavy with symbolism - whether she’s the perfect mother or the monstrous mother, the mother we’re supposed to long for or the mother we’re supposed to fear. Then there's motherhood as an experience in all its complexity, with all its ambivalences and sacrifices and joys, and the politics that surround these choices and identity shifts. There's a lot to talk about! We definitely don't get through even half of it in a single show, but if you’d like some book recommendations about mothers and motherhood (or want to find out which of us would rather be a dad!) then this one’s for you.
10/02/22·46m 31s

Literary Friction - Year in Review 2021

It’s our last Literary Friction of 2021, so as usual it's time for our year in review show, packed full of recommendations just in time for your holiday shopping. 2021 may have been a bad year for going out, but it was a great year for books, and the voices that lifted us out of our lockdown torpor are particularly special to us now. Listen in for some of our favourite reads from the last year, a gentle check in on how our reading resolutions from 2020 went (clue: patchy), plus books we are looking forward to in 2022. We've posted a list of all the recommendations on our page at so click the link below to see everything lined up, and please remember to support your local independent bookshop! Happy holidays everyone, catch you in the new year with our exciting 2022 programme. List of books recommended in this episode: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
17/12/21·1h 7m

Literary Friction - Books About Books with Ruth Ozeki

Regular listeners will know that we love to get a little meta here on LF, and this month author Ruth Ozeki gave us the perfect excuse to indulge ourselves as we slide into the holiday season. Ruth's latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, is about a boy named Benny who loses his father and shortly thereafter begins to hear the voices of inanimate objects, including the voice of the novel itself. In honour of Ruth, and Benny, this show is all about books about books. We'll dig into the ways that literature can be about itself, from books set in libraries to stories about writers to metafictional texts about their own means of creation, and ask what the joys and the pitfalls of this kind of self-referentiality can be - plus all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Books About Books: Octavia: The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco Carrie: Writers & Lovers by Lily King General Recommendations: Octavia: The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by Maggie Nelson Ruth: The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges Carrie: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
02/12/21·59m 43s

Minisode Twenty-six: Twilight Knowing

In the wake of the COP26 summit in Glasgow we are thinking a lot about climate crisis and the role literature can play in galvanising people to take action. We want to think about how fiction, poetry, and non-fiction writing can approach climate crisis beyond showing how terrible it will be in the future - is there a way to write about the subject that's not only disaster fiction? How do we move out of what Jenny Offill calls 'the twilight knowing' into full comprehension? Listen in for our thoughts on all this plus lots of recommendations for books that address the climate crisis either directly or indirectly. Find a list of some of the books we talked about at:
18/11/21·45m 12s

Literary Friction - Climbing the Ladder with Natasha Brown

Social hierarchies and the metrics of status and success are a part of life accepted by some and rejected by others, but whatever your position, they are hard to escape. There are lots of novels about characters climbing proverbial ladders, from Patrick Bateman rising through the ranks in the workplace in American Psycho to Becky Sharpe social climbing in Vanity Fair. Our guest this month is Natasha Brown, whose debut novel Assembly follows a Black British woman preparing for a garden party at her boyfriend's family estate, and thinking through the stories she exists within - stories of class, race, and the meaning of success. She's ticked all the 'right' boxes, went to a good university, has a cushy job in finance, owns her flat, and yet she begins to question the cost of her complicity in a system that will never fully accept her. We get into how books can enforce these kinds of social norms or subvert them, and whether fiction is a good place to question these structures, plus all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Climbing the Ladder: Octavia: The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith Carrie: Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro General Recommendations: Octavia: No. 91/92: notes on a Parisian commute by Lauren Elkin Natasha: Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy Carrie: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
04/11/21·1h 4m

Minisode Twenty-Five: The Campus Novel

This minisode we are leaning even further into our autumnal and back to school-ish vibe to talk about The Campus Novel, a genre that includes some beloved books and some much less beloved books, but remains enduring nevertheless. Why is there such an appetite for novels about university life? Are these stories mostly wish fulfilment narratives for older men who fear irrelevance? Is it always an elitist set-up? Listen in as we dig into these questions and more.
21/10/21·48m 14s

Literary Friction - Constraint with Maggie Nelson

Can you have freedom without constraint? What role does it play in creativity, and can it be productive as well as limiting? This month our guest is the thinker and writer Maggie Nelson, whose latest book, On Freedom, explores the concept of freedom via four wide-ranging essays about art, sex, drugs and climate. Its subtitle is Four Songs of Care and Constraint, so we thought we’d make this month’s show about the boundaries that are often the counterpoint to freedom. Tune in for Maggie’s thoughts on – to borrow a phrase from Judith Butler – ‘working the trap’, our favourite books about constraint, plus all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Constraint: Octavia: The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas, translated by Frank Wynne Carrie: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison General Recommendations: Octavia: Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden-Keefe Maggie: My Brother by Jamaica Kinkaid Carrie: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
07/10/21·1h 11m

Minisode Twenty-Four: Back to School

School is a loooong way in our past, but the imprint of that new start in September cycle runs deep, so in this minisode we are leaning into that back-to-school feeling. It also feels like there are more brilliant books on the horizon than ever this autumn, and we want to pay homage to our big and exciting to-read piles by telling you about some of the books we’re most jazzed to read in the coming months. Get your pencils out and take some notes!
30/09/21·40m 54s

Literary Friction - Writing For Change With Shon Faye

It's September, the leaves are starting to turn, and we're kicking off our Autumn season with a vital conversation about the power of writing for change. Our guest is the author Shon Faye, who joined us to discuss her hotly anticipated first book, The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice. It's a necessary and inspiring text in which she argues that we're having the wrong conversation about trans people, and that the struggle for trans liberation is all of our struggle. In honour of Shon's book, which aims to change the terms of a cultural conversation, we'll talk more widely about books that seek to shift perspectives, including the ones that shifted ours. It's good to be back! Recommendations on the theme, Writing for Change: Octavia: The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud Carrie: Ways of Seeing by John Berger General Recommendations: Octavia: Paul by Daisy Lafarge Shon: The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan Carrie: Circe by Madeline Miller Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
09/09/21·1h 14m

Literary Friction - RE-RUN: Memoir with Viv Albertine

We're on our summer break, which gives us a chance to re-run this brilliant conversation we had with punk superstar Viv Albertine when she dropped by the studio a few years ago to talk about her memoir, To Throw Away Unopened. Nothing grants insight into lived experience quite like a memoir, but the form can accommodate so much more than that, and Viv's book takes in many things alongside its descriptions of her experiences growing up as a working-class kid in London, and her complicated relationship with her extraordinary mother. So, tune in for a show celebrating memoirs that take us from the experience of giving birth to coming out to what it’s like to be in a world-famous band, via all the richness and thorny issues that this form promises, and we'll be back with a new episode in September.
12/08/21·59m 11s

Minisode Twenty-Three: The Sea, the Sea!

It’s hot here, the sky is blue, the air smells sweet, and we are about to take our summer break, so we wanted this last minisode of the season to be a little ode to one of our very favourite things about this time of year: the ocean. Of course, the sea is for all seasons, but there is something magical about it in the summer - swimming in it, gazing at it, dreaming of it... that shimmery, glittery blue and green stretching all the way to the horizon. Writers and poets have been enthralled by it forever, so listen in as we ponder what it is about the ocean that will always be so captivating, and we'll be back with a new show in September.
30/07/21·38m 39s

Literary Friction - Grandparents with Anuk Arudpragasam

Many of us have significant relationships with our grandparents, but is this reflected in literature? From Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Olive Kitteridge, which fictional grandparents have stayed with you? This month, we’re really excited to welcome the author Anuk Arudpragasam to talk about his second novel, A Passage North. It's a beautiful, meditative book about a young man named Krishan, who must take a train from Colombo to Northern Sri Lanka to attend a funeral. His relationship with his grandmother is a central part of the story, so we're dedicating this show to the elders of literature. We'll be asking what grandparents symbolise in family dynamics, and wondering why there seem to be so few grandparents in contemporary literature, so put the kettle on, get comfy, and imagine we're offering you a Werther's original for the next hour of Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Grandparents: Octavia: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende Carrie: Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout General Recommendations: Octavia: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder Anuk: A Book of Memories by Peter Nadas Carrie: Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny Find lists of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
15/07/21·1h 0m

Minisode Twenty-Two: Pets

Inspired by Deborah Levy's recommendation of The Friend by Sigrid Nunez - about the surprising friendship between a woman and a Great Dane named Apollo - this show is dedicated to: pets! Furry best friends or unfairly subjugated creatures? Is it ever possible to love animals ethically? Which pets from the pages of literature have stuck in our minds, and why? Tune in for odes to the animals in our lives, plus a cameo from an irascible peacock named Oberon. If you'd like to suggest themes for us to explore, and get an extra minisode each month, you can subscribe to our Patreon here:
01/07/21·45m 17s

Literary Friction - Real Estate with Deborah Levy

This month, our guest is the inimitable author Deborah Levy, whose latest book, Real Estate, is the third instalment in her acclaimed living autobiography trilogy. It's a book about a lot of things - being a writer, being a woman, how we make and remake a life, and what we ultimately leave behind. But it's also about real estate, which got us thinking about the importance of buildings, houses and homes in literature. How can books help us understand where and how we make our homes? Why is the haunted house such an enduring symbol? And how is the value of property different for 'generation rent'? So if you want to check out some hot property, join us for all this plus the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Real Estate: Octavia: In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado Carrie: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters General Recommendations: Octavia: Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters Deborah: The Friend by Sigrid Nunez Carrie: The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas Find lists of all recommended books at:, where you can order books online while supporting independent bookshops. Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
17/06/21·1h 4m

Minisode Twenty-One: Book Criticism

Book criticism - it’s a divisive topic, and one people feel very strongly about. Do you secretly relish a hatchet job, or think there's only space for glowing reviews?What actually is the function of criticism, and what makes it good or bad? Can it ever be truly impartial? This month's theme was recommended by our patron Angelique, and it's one we really enjoyed digging into. Tune in for Carrie's favourite critics, O's favourite Rilke quote, plus a cultural recommendation from the actual outside world! If you'd like to suggest themes for us to explore, and get an extra minisode each month, then you can subscribe to our Patreon here:
04/06/21·45m 6s

Literary Friction - Hard Crowds with Rachel Kushner

Our guest this month is the novelist Rachel Kushner, who we have been huge fans of ever since we read her novel The Flamethrowers. Rachel’s latest book is a collection of essays, The Hard Crowd. Though it covers a lot of ground, the collection returns often to the rebels and misfits and outsiders living on the edge of society - a theme in her fiction too. Inspired by Rachel's work, for this show we're talking about ‘hard crowds’ in literature, from the ultraviolent gang in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange to musicians living on the edge in their memoirs. So, climb on the back of our hogs and take a ride with us for the next hour of Literary Friction… Recommendations on the theme, Hard Crowds: Octavia: Nicotine by Nell Zink Carrie: Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson General recommendations: Octavia: No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood Rachel: The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen Carrie: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction Find lists of our recommendations at:, where you can also order books while supporting independent bookshops This episode is sponsored by Picador:
20/05/21·1h 10m

Minisode Twenty: Books as Objects

Some people treat books like they are sacred objects, others scribble all over them (or even cut them in half). Of course, books are objects, but they're also portals to other universes, new ways of thinking, adventures, romances, and more. The suggestion for this theme was sent to us on Patreon by a patron called Agnes - who asked if we’d talk about how we relate to books as things, as well as vessels for thoughts and experiences. Tune in to find out who is a profligate page folder, who underlines in pen, and who once threw a library book in a puddle of mud (gasp!). If you'd like to suggest themes for us to explore then you can subscribe to our Patreon here:
05/05/21·47m 52s

Literary Friction - Magical Realism with Leone Ross

Everyone needs a little magic from time to time, and this episode is brimming with it. We spoke to Leone Ross about her sensuous, absorbing new novel, This One Sky Day, which is set in the fictional Carribean archipelago of Popisho, where everyone is born with a certain magical gift, or cors. It's a story about many things, but mainly of two lovers trying to find their way back to one another over the course of a single day while the world shifts around them. We spoke to Leone about the subversive potential of magical realism, it's political power, and why some people are still so snobby about it. So listen in for our interview with Leone, a more general discussion of the literature of magical realism, and finally our usual book recommendations, and let us whisk you away to a better place for an hour. Recommendations on the theme, Magical Realism: Octavia: Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley Carrie: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa General recommendations: Octavia: Everybody: A Book About Freedom by Olivia Laing Leone: Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden Carrie: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
22/04/21·1h 10m

Minisode Nineteen: Party of Six

It has - astonishingly - been a year since our first lockdown minisode (Escapism in Quarantine), and here in the UK we are just starting to emerge from the latest restrictions. So, in honour of being able to meet six people outside again, we are dedicating this minisode to books about groups of friends. What makes stories about friendship groups so great? Which literary group of friends would you most like to tag along with, and which are the gangs that have really stayed with you? Let us get you in the mood while we all figure out how to socialise again (and don't forget your thermals when you meet in the park - in the words of Prince, sometimes it snows in April).
07/04/21·46m 2s

Literary Friction - Vulnerability with Katherine Angel

This month, as spring begins to spring, we're thinking about vulnerability, about the perils and pleasures of opening up. Joining us is author and academic Katherine Angel, whose latest book Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again is a nuanced and thought-provoking examination of women’s desire in the age of consent, exploring the shortcomings of our current discussions around things like sex, power and violence. Our theme is inspired by Katherine’s book, and her discussion of the necessity of vulnerability in sex, so listen in for our thoughts about some of the books that explore vulnerability and the complicated terrain of consent, as well as the vulnerability of writing itself. Come let your guard down with us for the next hour of Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Vulnerability: Octavia: To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine Carrie: The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride General recommendations: Octavia: Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux, translated by Tanya Leslie Katherine: Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin Carrie: Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy You can support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
25/03/21·59m 28s

Literary Friction - Inside Publishing with Hannah Westland from Serpent's Tail (Sponsored Episode)

For Minisode Nineteen we’re doing something a little different - this episode is sponsored by publisher Serpent’s Tail, who are celebrating their thirty-fifth birthday this year (just like both of us!). We’ve had many of their authors on the show over the years, including Chris Kraus, Carmen Maria Machado, Mary Gaitskill, Esi Edugyan and Sarah Perry. So in honour of their birthday, we talked to Serpent’s Tail publisher Hannah Westland about what it's like to be an editor, how she works with authors and with text, and what it means to be looking for fresh talent. Plus she gave some hot tips about upcoming books this Spring. We hope you enjoy it!
09/03/21·50m 43s

Literary Friction - Adaptation with Niven Govinden

Building on our show in 2017 with Dana Spiotta that looked at books about film, this month we want to explore what happens when books turn into films. We’ll be asking why literature is often a source for cinema, thinking about what the best adaptations get right, and remembering some of our favourite movies inspired by books. Our guest is author Niven Govinden, whose sixth novel, Diary of a Film, unfolds over the course of three days in an unnamed Italian city, where an auteur director has come to premier his latest film at a festival. It’s a love letter to the cinema, and an intense meditation on the creative process, artistic control, queer love and flaneurs. So, grab your popcorn - it will almost be like sitting in a crowded movie theatre again! Our recommended film adaptations: Octavia: Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd ( based on the novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov: Carrie: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve ( based on the short story Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang: General recommendations: Octavia: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein Niven: Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay Carrie: Having and Being Had by Eula Biss We'll be launching our Patreon next month so keep an eye on our socials if you'd like to become a patron and support our work! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:
25/02/21·1h 13m

Literary Friction - Minisode Eighteen: Winter Reads

Minisode Eighteen is dedicated to winter reads. Summer reading seems to get all the attention, but as we hunker down into our second month of winter lockdown in the UK, we’ve been thinking about the kinds of books we turn to in the colder months of the year (and at peak pandemic exhaustion). We’re going to discuss what makes a good read in bleak weather, and some of the best books set in the bleakest season. Also featuring: tantalising news of our forthcoming Patreon page! We can't wait for Spring but, til then, let's get lost in some excellent books. Enjoy! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
10/02/21·49m 4s

Literary Friction Special - Raven Leilani

For our first show of 2021, we bring you this author special with Raven Leilani, who joined Carrie in cyberspace to talk about her smash hit debut novel, Luster. In this extended interview, they discussed making art in precarity, writing so the reader can’t look away, good and bad sex, what it means to write Black characters who unapologetically deny respectability, nerd culture, and so much more. Plus the usual book recommendations. We hope you enjoy! Recommendations: Raven: Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight Carrie: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
28/01/21·51m 0s

Literary Friction - Year in Review 2020

It’s our last Literary Friction of 2020, and as usual it's time for our year in review show, packed full of recommendations just in time for your holiday shopping. We'll be looking back over some of the books that got us through this wildly challenging year, and gently revisiting the reading resolutions we made in 2019, when we were still so innocent and full of optimism. We'll also give some resolutions for the year ahead, plus some of the books we are excited to read in 2021. We've teamed up with two of our favourite independent bookshops to offer some ace deals for LF listeners: Burley Fisher ( are offering 10% off using the code LITFRICTION at checkout, available until midnight on 23/12. If you spend over £20 at Pages of Hackney ( they'll throw in one of their brilliant totes for free, just add the tote plus books to your basket and use the code LITFRICTION at checkout. They've also put together a list of everything we recommended on this show, here: Top picks from 2020: Carrie: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein Lost Cat by Mary Gaitskill The Years by Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison L. Strayer Euphoria by Lily King Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo In The Woods by Tana French Octavia: Weather by Jenny Offill In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado Blueberries by Ellena Savage This Brutal House by Niven Govinden Things I Don’t Want To Know by Deborah Levy Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan A Man’s Place by Annie Ernaux, trans. Tanya Leslie Unknown Language by Hildegard of Bingen and Huw Lemmey Looking forward to next year: Carrie: Open Water by Caleb Azuman Nelson Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler Having and Being Had by Eula Biss Octavia: Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again by Katherine Angel Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu This One Sky Day by Leone Ross Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
09/12/20·50m 28s

Literary Friction - The Political Essay with Otegha Uwagba

Does the written word really have the power to change things? How do you make a good argument in writing? Does the form of the essay lend itself particularly well to politics? Join us as we talk to the writer Otegha Uwagba about her brilliant essay Whites, a clear sighted, powerful comment on race in our society which examines her feelings in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the failures of white allyship. Picking up from our discussion of the form of the essay with Brian Dillon in 2017, we’ll be exploring the strengths and limitations of the form and talking about our favourite political essayists, from George Orwell to James Baldwin to Rebecca Solnit, plus all the usual recommendations. Our recommended political essays: Octavia: Daddy Issues by Katherine Angel Carrie: On Witness and Repair by Jesmyn Ward General Recommendations: Octavia: A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir Otegha: America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo Carrie: Intimations by Zadie Smith Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
24/11/20·1h 0m

Minisode Seventeen: Optimism

What with the news of a viable Covid vaccine in the works and a Biden Harris administration on the horizon, you may be having an unusual feeling, one that you vaguely recognise but can’t quite put your finger on... Well, friends, it might just be Optimism. We're a few weeks into lockdown two in the UK, and seeing as we talked about joy at the start of the first one, it feels like good symmetry to call on our optimistic reserves this time around. As the global pandemic drags on, we think it's a good muscle to flex. So join us as we ask, what does it really mean to feel optimistic now? How does it work for us, and how can we nurture it in a helpful way? Plus some aural and visual recommendations for when reading isn't hitting the spot.
17/11/20·43m 36s

Literary Friction - Complicated Love with Mary Gaitskill

What does it mean to love too much, or in a way that society doesn’t see as appropriate? Is loving an inherently complicated experience? Helping us consider these questions is our guest, the author Mary Gaitskill, who joined us to talk about her masterful long essay Lost Cat, which has just been published in the UK for the first time. It’s the story of her lost cat, Gattino, and also a clear-eyed and heartbreaking meditation on who we are allowed to love, how different kinds of suffering are connected, and the hope and pain that love can bring. Inspired by Gattino and Mary, the theme of today’s show is ‘Complicated Love’, and we’ll be looking at its joys and perils in books from Romeo and Juliet to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. Listen in for our interview with Mary Gaitskill, thoughts about the whys and wherefores of how love gets complicated in literature, and all our usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Complicated Love: Octavia: The Pisces by Melissa Broder Carrie: Middlemarch by George Eliot General Recommendations: Octavia: Hot Milk by Deborah Levy Mary: Snow by Orhan Pamuk Carrie: Beloved by Toni Morrison Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
06/11/20·1h 7m

Literary Friction - Sisters with Daisy Johnson

What is it about sisters? Loving, competitive, sometimes incredibly sinister... this month, we're thinking about sisterhood, and all those memorable sisters that fill the pages of literature with their rivalries and alliances, adoration and rebellion. From Little Women to My Sister the Serial Killer, we're getting into why this familial bond is so potent in storytelling. With the days drawing in and Halloween nearly upon us, we're also thinking about how sisters can be uncanny, and we couldn’t have a better author guest to help us explore the spookiness of the sisterly bond: Daisy Johnson, whose new novel, Sisters, is about two girls who are disturbingly close, and what happens when they move with their mother to a crumbling house on the seaside after they cause a terrible incident at their school. We dedicate this show to sisters everywhere - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Recommendations on the theme, Sisters: Octavia: Atonement by Ian McEwan Carrie: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson General Recommendations: Octavia: A Man’s Place by Annie Ernaux Daisy: Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin Carrie: The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram:
21/10/20·59m 22s

Minisode Sixteen: Audiobooks

Before we were hit with this recent heatwave, there was starting to be a chill in the air, and soon it will be the perfect climate for taking brisk walks in parks, or just round the block for your government mandated hour of exercise should we find ourselves in another lockdown. Either way, the perfect conditions for… listening to books! The first of our autumnal minisodes is dedicated to the cosy pleasure of being read to - we’re getting into audiobooks, so tune in for all things aural pleasure (and displeasure), and the simple joy of being told a good story.
16/09/20·46m 32s

Literary Friction - The Joy of Words with Eley Williams

Why is there so much delight in discovering a juicy new word? Do you ever read the dictionary for fun? Is it annoying when people use obscure words too often? This month’s show is dedicated to the building blocks of all books: words. Joining us is the author Eley Williams, whose first novel The Liar’s Dictionary is both about words and delights in them. In the novel, Peter Winceworth, a disgruntled employee of Swansby’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary at the turn of the century, begins inserting his own invented words into the first edition. In the present day, intern Mallory is tasked with rooting out his mischievous insertions. We spoke to Eley about lots of things including our favourite words and reading the dictionary like a novel, so kick back and join us for an hour of lexical wonder and appreciation. Recommendations on the theme, The Joy of Words: Octavia: A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes Carrie: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess General Recommendations: Octavia: Blueberries by Ellena Savage Eley: and what if we are all allowed to disappear by Tania Hershman Carrie: The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
03/09/20·1h 1m

Literary Friction - RE-RUN: Masculinity with Thomas Page McBee

We're still on our summer break, so we wanted to use this chance to bring you a re-run of one of our favourite shows from our archive. In 2018, we spoke to Thomas Page McBee about his book Amateur, which tells the true story of his quest to become the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The theme of the show is Masculinity: what makes a man? Why do men fight? Is there a crisis of masculinity? These are some of the questions that authors from Ernest Hemingway to Grayson Perry have asked, and questions that Thomas Page McBee addresses head on in his searching, beautiful and wise book.
05/08/20·59m 13s

Minisode Fifteen: Joy

Don't know about you, but we've really felt the need for a little more joy around here lately. We miss it, and as the world continues to turn upside down, we’re learning how to find it in new ways and in new places. So, Minisode Fifteen is dedicated to JOY, and the best thing about joy is that once you have a little of it you can find ways to pass it on, like a paper chain of joy spreading out across communities virtual and real. What's bringing you joy right now? Is reading a joyful act? Can finding joy be a practice? And as we get into what brings us joy, hopefully we’ll spread a little of that joy to you, and finally as usual give a few recommendations of things we’ve been into lately. This is our last show before we take our summer break in August, so we wish you all good things, and may you go to your joy.
30/07/20·50m 45s

Literary Friction - Luxury With Shola Von Reinhold

What does it mean to write luxuriously? How can books be rich and generous? This month we’re talking about luxury in literature - and no, we don’t mean books about the 1% having spa days or flying first class. Instead, we’re talking about writing that explores the aesthetic, opulent, baroque and decadent. Through writers including Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sylvia Plath, we’ll be thinking about what makes writing luxurious, and why engaging with luxury can be a subversive act of resistance for marginalised communities. Our guest today is Shola von Reinhold, whose debut novel Lote is about present-day narrator Mathilda's fixation with the forgotten Black Scottish modernist poet, Hermia Druitt. It's also a beautiful meditation on aesthetics and beauty and who is allowed access to them. Listen in for all the usual recommendations, and a chance to find out if you're an Arcadian or a Utopian. So, come indulge with us in a little literary friction. Recommendations on the theme, Luxury: Octavia: Ariel by Sylvia Plath Carrie: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst General Recommendations: Octavia: The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel Shola: Race, Sexuality and Identity in Britain and Jamaica: the Biography of Patrick Nelson by Gemma Romain Carrie: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
07/07/20·1h 3m

Literary Friction - Behind Closed Doors With Carmen Maria Machado

This month, we're going behind closed doors with Carmen Maria Machado, who dialled in from the States to talk to us. Her innovative memoir, In The Dream House, is about her experience of domestic abuse, something that is so often hidden from view, and even more so when it happens in a queer relationship. What does it mean to write into archival silence? How do we tell the most difficult stories? As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest, so join us as we talk about literature that looks at what happens behind closed doors, both in the literal sense - domestic spaces that are not what they seem, or hold secrets - but also those books that show us narratives that are usually left out of literature and culture. Plus, of course, our usual book recommendations - so sit back, and let us open YOUR door on Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Behind Closed Doors: Octavia: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Carrie: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson General Recommendations: Octavia: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter Carmen: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder Carrie: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
25/06/20·1h 3m

Literary Friction - RE-RUN: Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Kishani Widyaratna

We're in the midst of an international protest movement, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police. As a result, it didn’t feel right to put out a new show, so instead we wanted to re-run a show from 2017 during which we talked about race with Reni Eddo-Lodge, the author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Kishani Widyaratna, an editor at Picador Books in London. In her now best selling book, Reni takes a thorough and passionate look at the UK's long and complicated relationship with structural racism. This show comes with the caveat that we recorded this conversation three years ago. Our thinking has evolved since then as we’ve all continued to read and listen and learn about race. For white people in particular, anti-racist work is an ongoing journey. However, it’s sad and frustrating that most of the issues we were discussing then remain the same. It’s important to point out that we were talking about race generally on this show, whereas the current protests are for Black Lives Matter, focussing on anti-blackness, which is connected but a more specific issue. Recommendations on the theme, race: Octavia: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine Kish: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Carrie: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson General Recommendations: Octavia: Mislaid by Nell Zink Kish: Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed Reni: Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde Carrie: First Love by Gwendoline Riley Further Reading: Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge Reni's podcast, About Race: Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
09/06/20·1h 6m

Minisode Fourteen: More Intimacy

We're still stuck on the theme of intimacy, because we haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The demands of this crisis are forcing us to rethink so much that used to be instinctive, including how we connect with other people - physical contact has never been more loaded, and we're having to rely on other ways to bridge the gaps between us. In our last show with Garth Greenwell we were thinking about how books can be a tool for intimacy in themselves, and in this minisode we continue that conversation. How does reading and talking about books create intimacy? Has the way we think about intimacy changed during lockdown? Can books ever be a substitute for intimacy IRL? Plus, the usual (extremely inside) cultural recommendations. This episode is sponsored by Picador @picadorbooks
26/05/20·49m 47s

Literary Friction - Intimacy With Garth Greenwell

Like a lot of people, lockdown has made us think about intimacy. As separation from our loved ones drags on, we're all having to find different ways to connect, and in this socially distant reality, intimacy feels more necessary than ever - however we can get it (hot tip: books are good!). Writing and reading can be intimate acts, so for this episode we'll be discussing what intimacy means in literature, which writers - from Henry James to Sally Rooney to Maggie Nelson - have been able to capture it, and what it means to write in an intimate way. Our guest this month is Garth Greenwell, a writer whose work chronicles and explores intimacy in many forms, so he couldn't be a better person to talk to. His second book, Cleanness, follows an American teacher living in Sofia, Bulgaria as he navigates relationships with his students, love and sex. Listen in for our interview with Garth, our thoughts about intimacy in literature, and all the usual recommendations. Come closer, let us put our arms around you, and get enveloped for the next hour by Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Intimacy: Octavia: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson Carrie: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin General Recommendations: Octavia: This Brutal House by Niven Govinden Garth: Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li Carrie: The Years by Annie Ernaux Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
12/05/20·1h 11m

Minisode Thirteen: Inside Our Minds

In the absence of an outside world, and because we are missing our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances, even strangers on trains, for Minisode Thirteen we're going inside our minds: we want to talk about the characters from literature that have stayed with us and taken root in our imaginations long after finishing the books that brought them to us. Which literary characters would be good quarantine buddies? Which would be full blown nightmares? Who has been unforgettable, for good or bad reasons? In this strangely liminal tine where our imaginations and subconscious minds have been sent into overdrive, we’re staying in because we can’t go out, so join us as we unpack a bunch of internal boxes, plus the usual recommendations. This episode is sponsored by Picador @picadorbooks
28/04/20·51m 2s

Literary Friction - Obligatory Note Of Hope With Jenny Offill

How do you hold onto hope in the dark? This question feels more pertinent than ever right now, and we couldn't think of anyone we'd rather ask than author Jenny Offill, who we spoke to from our various quarantine locations this month. Her new novel Weather is a sharp, insightful meditation on how regular humans process catastrophe, and while it's particularly about the climate crisis, as you might imagine it’s become weirdly relevant in our current situation too. But listen, rather than bring you a show about catastrophe, we also wanted to make a show about hope. ‘Obligatory note of hope’ is an expression a character uses in Weather, and it’s also a website that Jenny set up with resources she found during her research ( So, as well as talking to Jenny and giving all the usual recommendations, we’ll be thinking about what it means for a book to be hopeful, and talking about which books and authors have personally given us hope over the years. So, Pandora: shut that box just in time, and join us for the next hour on Literary Friction. List of books mentioned that give us hope: Octavia: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson; Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid; Just Kids by Patti Smith; Octavia Butler and Ursula K Le Guin's writing; The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz Carrie: Middlemarch by George Eliot; Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn; Ways of Seeing by John Berger General Recommendations: Octavia: Wrechedness by Andrzej Tichý Jenny: Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin Carrie: Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
14/04/20·1h 10m

Minisode Twelve: Escapism In Quarantine

How are you finding reading at the moment? Are you struggling to drag your eyes away from Twitter or endlessly scrolling news sites? What does escapism really mean? What's working, and what isn't working in these anxious times? We are currently about sixty miles apart from one another, but very pleased to be bringing you Minisode Twelve from our isolation stations. We want to offer a little escapism, but we also want, maybe even need to talk about what's going on right now. So we're going to talk about literature in quarantine, which also means talking about not being able to read at all. We hope you're all doing ok, and we remain at your service through whatever's on the horizon, and as always, thank you for listening. This episode is sponsored by Picador @picadorbooks
28/03/20·47m 1s

Literary Friction - Social Media with Kiley Reid

Has anyone written a great social media novel yet? Is Twitter destroying our ability to read novels in the first place? How worried should we be about bookstagrammers? Why are you listening to this podcast instead of reading a book? What even is the point of podcasting?? On this month’s show we’re asking these not at all panicked questions and talking about social media in literature. As usual, our theme has been inspired by our guest: Kiley Reid dropped by the studio to talk about her debut novel Such a Fun Age, a fun, sharp story about babysitting, racial politics, class and privilege. Listen in to hear our interview with Kiley, our thoughts about the theme of social media in literature, plus all the usual recommendations. Thankfully, we recorded with Kiley before Covid-19 travel restrictions came into play, and before the virus spread, so if you want an hour to escape into a time before reality got turned around then open your mind, ignore twitter - at least for the next hour - and focus all your attention on Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, Social Media: Octavia: NW by Zadie Smith Carrie: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart General Recommendations: Octavia: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates Kiley: Jillian by Halle Butler Carrie: In the Cut by Susanna Moore Buy a tote! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
17/03/20·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Minisode Eleven: We Heart EU...ropean Literature

However you feel about Brexit, there’s no denying that it’s going to change the relationship that people in the UK have with the European Union and the twenty-seven countries that make it up. But we are not here to dwell in the misery of all that! One of the most beautiful things about literature is that, unless things get fully fascistic, no political machine can restrict your movement in your imagination. This minisode is a bit of a celebration of the European literature and culture we’ve loved, the stuff we want to read, and the power of reading to create and maintain connections where politics has failed us. So it’s Brexit, but make it optimistic? Tote bags: Email us: Twitter & Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
04/03/20·40m 0s

Literary Friction - On the Run with Eimear McBride

This month on Literary Friction we’re going on the run. Or, more accurately, we’ll be sitting still in the studio talking about literature that features characters and people who are running away both physically and psychologically, from Cora in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, to Madame Bovary, to Augusten Burroughs and A.A. Gill. Our guest is Irish novelist Eimear McBride, who has come back on the show to talk about her third novel Strange Hotel, which follows an unnamed protagonist as she moves from hotel room to hotel room around the world, trying to forget her past, and the powerful allure of an untethered life. So, lace up your sneakers and jog along with us for the next hour of Literary Friction. Recommendations on the theme, On The Run: Octavia: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Carrie: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead General Recommendations: Octavia: Things I Don't Want to Know by Deborah Levy Carrie: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo Eimear: Cleanness by Garth Greenwell Buy a tote! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
18/02/20·58m 28s

Minisode Ten: TS Eliot The Love Rat, And Other Tales

For the first minisode of 2020, we're wading into the gossipy world of TS Eliot's love life: this year marks the publication of his romantic letters to Emily Hale, fifty years after their deaths. If you missed the story in the press, let's just say it's not one in which he covered himself in glory. Listen in for our thoughts on literary fetishism, posthumous publications, and how to choose a wife that won't kill the poet in you, plus all the usual recommendations. Tote bags: Twitter & Instagram: @litfricton This episode is sponsored by Picador:
04/02/20·33m 10s

Literary Friction - New Beginnings With An Yu

Our first show of the year (and decade) is all about New Beginnings: from Virginia Woolf's novels to memoirs like Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, we’ll look at books that feature rejuvenation, and think about why it's such fertile ground for storytelling. Joining us is author An Yu, whose thoughtful and surreal debut novel Braised Pork inspired the theme. It tells the story of Jia Jia, a young artist in contemporary Beijing who, after the abrupt death of her husband, must begin her life again. Listen in for our chat with An, who stopped by the studio to talk about starting over, the power of enigmatic symbols, and why we need stories to make sense of the world around us, plus all the usual recommendations. It’s good to be back! Recommendations on the theme, New Beginnings: Octavia: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry Carrie: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan General Recommendations: Octavia: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan Carrie: Kudos by Rachel Cusk An: Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo Buy a tote! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador
21/01/20·59m 31s

Literary Friction - In Therapy With Ben Lerner

For our last show of the year, we’re going into therapy - or, more accurately, we’ll be talking about therapy’s intersection with literature. Does analysis make good fiction? Do therapists make good characters, or good authors? What has the language of psychology given to literature? We’re very happy that the inspiration for today’s topic is our guest, Ben Lerner, whose third novel The Topeka School is a brilliant meditation on family, psychology, toxic masculinity, whiteness and American life, told through the lens of one man’s coming of age in Topeka, Kansas in the 90s, where Ben himself was born. So, lay down on the couch and do the work with us for the next hour on Literary Friction, and we'll catch up with you in the new decade. Happy holidays, everyone! Recommendations on the theme, In Therapy: Octavia: Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-century Paris by Asti Hustvedt Carrie: The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz General Recommendations: Octavia: Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith Ben: The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing Carrie: The Past by Tessa Hadley Buy a tote! Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction
19/12/19·1h 0m

Minisode Nine: Year In Review

It’s our last minisode of 2019, so we're looking back over some of our favourite reads of the year, some of our resolutions for 2020, plus the usual cultural recommendations - so, if you need some inspiration for what books to buy people for Christmas then grab a pen! Also, here’s your annual reminder to support your local independent bookshop instead of ordering everything online. An update on our lovely, fair trade cotton tote bags: we now have an Etsy shop where you can buy them! The link is below, all the money we make from the sales goes back into making the show bigger and better, so please get one for all your friends. Finally, thank you for listening and for another brilliant year of Literary Friction. Happy holidays everyone! See you on the flipside. Tote bags: Twitter & Instagram: @litfriction Email us:
11/12/19·47m 53s

Literary Friction - Returning with Elizabeth Strout

From William Faulkner to John Updike, and Hilary Mantel to Margaret Atwood, why do authors return to the same characters and places again and again? What can a trilogy do that a solo book can’t? And why do we get so excited (and nervous) about these returns? To help us answer these questions, this month we have a very special guest: the inimitable, Pulitzer prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout. Her latest novel, Olive, Again, is a return to the complicated character of Olive Kitteridge and her community in Crosby, Maine. Recommendations on the theme, Returning: Octavia: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson Carrie: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld General Recommendations: Octavia: Be My Guest by Priya Basil Elizabeth: Tolstoy by Henri Troyat and Tolstoy by A.N. Wilson; Carrie: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro Email us: Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction
26/11/19·53m 54s

Literary Friction - Minisode Eight: Set Reading, Good Or Bad?

For Minisode Eight we were inspired by a question podcaster Isaac Butler asked on Twitter, which was: What’s a Great Book that you read because it was assigned to you that you actually loved? We also asked: Which were the books that really did it for you at school or university? Did you like being set reading, or rebel against it? And were there any books you had to read that almost turned you off for good? Plus all the usual recommendations.
12/11/19·31m 29s

Literary Friction - Live at Cheltenham Festival

This show is a little different from usual as we’re coming to you from the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where we were this year’s podcast in residence. This jam-packed special features recordings from both the events we chaired: ‘A Body of Work’ with Karen Havelin and Eleanor Thom, in which we discussed their books Please Read This Leaflet Carefully and Private Parts, including how to write about chronic/persistent pain, and endometriosis; and ‘Me Too in Fiction’, where we spoke to Rosie Price and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen about their books What Red Was and Liar, which deal with sexual assault and its aftermath in very different ways. Plus: voxpops from Max Porter, Candice Carty-Williams, Wana Udobang and Sinéad Gleeson, who all told us what they’d read and loved recently; and our utter glee at discovering the back seat of a car makes an excellent makeshift recording studio, steamed up windows and all. It’s full of the good stuff to warm you up as the nights draw in.
30/10/19·59m 40s

Literary Friction - City of Voices with Zadie Smith

This month's show is called City of Voices in honour of our very esteemed guest, author Zadie Smith. We met Zadie for a live event in Sheffield to talk about her first short story collection, Grand Union, a playful, ambitious symphony of different voices, styles and forms. Listen in to hear about why we should all embrace our inner chaos, the ways our voices get co-opted by Big Technology, and for a more general chat about literature by authors like William Faulkner and Yaa Gyasi that encompasses a range of different voices. Plus, of course, all the usual recommendations.
07/10/19·1h 19m

Literary Friction - Vanity with Deborah Levy

Do you consider yourself a vain person? Because this month is all about vanity in literature, dedicated to those characters who are just a little bit too pleased with themselves. It's also our first full show back this Autumn, and we are thrilled to kick things off with none other than the inimitable Deborah Levy, who joined us for a live event at Foyles in London to talk about her latest novel, The Man Who Saw Everything. It features a beautiful, vain, frustrating, intriguing, ultimately very human protagonist, and slips through time with Lynchian abandon. So whether you're a Dorian or a Narcissus, or a paragon of humble virtue, join us for the next hour for all the usual conversation and recommendations on Literary Friction.
25/09/19·57m 28s

Minisode Seven: Jia Tolentino and Emilie Pine

Hello! We're back! We missed you! Welcome to Minisode Seven, in which we make an excited return to the studio and catch up on what we got up to over our summer break. Before all that, though, we want to play you some of an ace live event Octavia did with authors Jia Tolentino and Emilie Pine, discussing their brilliant essay collections, Trick Mirror and Notes To Self. Sadly you can only hear the first half of it because there were ghosts in the machine (technical meltdown), but it was a fascinating conversation so we still think it's worth it. We also have some really exciting stuff lined up for this autumn: a live event with none other than Zadie Smith; the launch of some very stylish LF merch; and we are the podcast in residence at Cheltenham Literary Festival this year. So, listen in for Jia, Emilie, new news, old news, the usual recommendations and, as ever, a little music too. It's good to be back!
17/09/19·49m 20s

RERUN Literary Friction - Down the Rabbit Hole with Kevin Barry

We're still on our summer break, but we didn't want to leave you totally bereft of literary friction, here's a little something from the archive. In Spring 2016 we spoke to Kevin Barry about his novel Beatlebone, and in celebration of his place on this year's Booker Prize longlist (for his latest novel Nightboat to Tangier) we thought we'd re-run the episode. Beatlebone is a wonderful novel about a very famous John's quest to reach a tiny island that he owns in Clew Bay, off the West Coast of Ireland. Inspired by his trip, our theme is 'down the rabbit hole', dedicated to all those literary escapes to the ends of the earth and to the centre of the mind. We'll be following that elusive rabbit's fluffy tail and lighting out for the territory with Huck Finn, breaking out of jail with the Count of Monte Cristo, and getting lost in all kids of mythical adventures. Come along for the ride, and enjoy a bit of time travel into the world of our younger selves - our equipment was a lot less pro in those days!
07/08/19·1h 0m

Literary Friction Special - Ocean Vuong

For our last show before we take our summer break, we bring you this author special with poet and novelist Ocean Vuong, who was over from the States to talk about his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Carrie was on holiday so Octavia flew solo for a long interview with Ocean where they talked about submission as power, queer narratives, acceptance over forgiveness, the subversive potential of fragmented storytelling, the violence of parental love and a whole lot more. We’ll be back in September with an exciting Autumn programme, and we’ll put out some shows from the archive in the meantime so you can still get your LF fix. Until then, have a wonderful summer everyone!
10/07/19·48m 56s

Minisode Six: The Joys and Perils of Re-reading

Are you a re-reader? Do you have any comfort books that you return to over and over? Have you ever recommended a book and then realised you can’t remember what happens in it? Have you ever picked up a book and got halfway through before realising you've read it before? (One of us may have some confessions to make). Minisode Six is about re-reading - how we do it, if we do it, why we do it. We also have some announcements: we're about to take a summer break but we'll be back in 2 weeks with an author special featuring Ocean Vuong, and then we’ll be resting our voices til September and working on building our website and putting together a great autumn programme. But don’t worry! We’ll be re-running old shows from our archive in the meantime.
26/06/19·36m 40s

Literary Friction - Pain with Sinéad Gleeson

From Virginia Woolf to Susan Sontag, writers have grappled with how difficult it is to both describe and understand the pain of others. This month we’re going to examine that phenomenon, but also look at some of the writers who have captured the experience of pain in a unique and interesting way. One of those writers is Sinéad Gleeson, whose personal essay collection Constellations thoughtfully explores the way pain of all kinds - physical, emotional, political - can shape a life, and also be the catalyst for finding new ways of expressing the self. So, join us for the next hour as we try to face this challenging universal experience. Email us: Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, Pain: Octavia: Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys Carrie: Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag General Recommendations: Octavia: Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor Carrie: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
11/06/19·58m 48s

Minisode Five: Let's Hear It For The Beach Reads!

Isn’t this beautiful weather we’re having? Doesn’t it make you feel like running sand between your fingers and toes? Now that summer is very much on the horizon, we’re dedicating this minisode to the joys of beach reads, so stay tuned for some optimistic fantasising about long, sunny days with nothing to do but read and snooze and swim and eat, and our thoughts about what makes the perfect - or the worst - beach read.
29/05/19·28m 0s

Literary Friction - The Science Of Bias With Jennifer Eberhardt

We know that literature - like all culture - is biased, but can books also be a way of recognising and combating stereotypes? Our guest, Dr Jennifer Eberhardt, is widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on racial bias, and her new book Biased is a comprehensive look at the science of unconscious bias and how it affects our society. With this show, we’re continuing our conversation about race and literature that we started with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Kishani Widyaratna in 2017 (you can find that show in our archive). Specifically, we're looking at racial bias: what it is, how it damages our society, and if there's anything we can do about it. So, join us for the next hour as we try to further decolonise our minds. Email us: Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, The Science of Bias: Octavia: Swing Time by Zadie Smith Carrie: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison General Recommendations: Octavia: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier Carrie: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo Jennifer: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
15/05/19·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Minisode Four: Guilty Pleasures

On Minisode Four we're thinking about our literary guilty pleasures - those books we might not want people to know we read, because we fear their judgement, or maybe we even judge ourselves a little for enjoying them. Basically it’s all about shame! Have you ever hidden the cover of what you’re reading so no one will know? Is there anything you’ve been embarrassed to buy in a bookshop? Are there books on your shelves that you hide when people come round? Listen in for some secrets and revelations, plus some cultural stuff we've been into lately. Recommendations: Fleabag The Dropout Uh The Other Side of the Sea
30/04/19·29m 30s

Literary Friction - Poetry With Hannah Sullivan

In the words of celebrated Canadian poet Anne Carson, “if prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it”. Whether you’re into Frank O’Hara or Emily Dickinson, Audre Lorde or e. e. cummings, Walt Whitman or Sylvia Plath, we’ve got something for you in this poetry-themed show. Our guest is poet and academic Hannah Sullivan, who joined us to talk about her evocative debut collection, Three Poems, which explores the intimacies and intricacies of life, from sex and love and being young in New York, to the birth of a son, and the death of a father. So, come get lyrical with us and we might even drop some rhyming couplets over the next hour on Literary Friction. Email us: Tweet us and find us on Instagram: @litfriction Recommendations on the theme, Poetry: Octavia: Witch by Rebecca Tamás Carrie: Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara General Recommendations: Octavia: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite Carrie: Terrific Mother by Lorrie Moore Hannah: A Compass Error by Sybille Bedford
17/04/19·58m 20s

Literary Friction - Minisode Three: Red Flags

The writer Laura Relyea recently tweeted the question ‘What books are automatic red flags for you with people?’ and it got over 12,000 likes and 4,100 responses. We thought we'd stick our oars in as well, so join us for Minisode Three, in which we get into red flags, literary snobbery, books as cultural capital, and whether it's ever ok to judge a person by their reading habits.
02/04/19·27m 35s

Literary Friction - Migration With Valeria Luiselli

In a world increasingly dominated by xenophobia and wall-building, this month we wanted to look to the books that cross borders instead. So our theme for this show is migration in literature, from the novels of John Steinbeck to Zadie Smith. We've been wanting to talk about this for a while, and we waited for the perfect author guest to explore this with us. We spoke to award-winning Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, whose latest novel Lost Children Archive is about both a road trip one family takes across America, and child migrants on the US/Mexico border. So, come and tear down walls with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
26/03/19·1h 0m

Literary Friction Special - Yelena Moskovich Live At Jewish Book Week

We're thrilled to bring you this podcast special: a recording of our live interview with author Yelena Moskovich at Jewish Book Week. We talked about Yelena’s second novel, Vituoso, queer identities, crossing boundaries and disobedient women of the ex-Soviet diaspora, amongst many other topics. Enjoy!
19/03/19·47m 23s

Literary Friction - Minisode Two: Literary Crushes

We’re very pleased to report that Minisode One went down really well so we're back with another one for your pleasure. Last time we talked about books we hated, so this month we decided to get into characters we love. But, like, love love: we explored our literary crushes - from Behemoth the cat to Virginia Woolf - and the intimacy of reading. So tune in for chat about literary desire, and to hear what other cultural things got our pulses racing lately.
05/03/19·28m 8s

Literary Friction - Brothers With Claire Adam

From Cain and Abel, to the Brothers Karamazov, to Fred and George Weasley, the pages of literature have been filled with memorable brothers. This month, we’ll be talking about our favourite fraternal pairs, and thinking about why siblings, with their love and rivalries, remain so evocative in books. As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest, Claire Adam, whose first novel Golden Child is a thrilling story about twin brothers growing up in Trinidad, and the very different paths their lives take. So, stay with us for the next hour for some brotherly love!
20/02/19·59m 10s

Literary Friction - Minisode One: Books We Hate

Welcome to our first ever minisode! We’ve wanted to bring you more literary friction for a while, so thought we’d follow the lead of some of our favourite podcasts and put out a mini episode in between full shows. This month things got a bit salty as we talked about books we hated. We also moved beyond the literary realm and recommended other cultural things that have filled us with joy. So, if you fancy a little more informal chat, then just push play.
05/02/19·27m 38s

Literary Friction - Into The Woods With Luke Turner

Are the woods a joyous escape from the morals and prying eyes of polite society, or a dark and forbidding place where no-one is safe? Or both? How is the forest in literature changing as the forests in our world disappear? This month we’re going into the woods, looking at literary forests from Shakespeare to Sondheim to Lovecraft and beyond. Our theme is inspired by our guest Luke Turner, editor of The Quietus, whose memoir Out of the Woods is a beautiful and frank examination of sexuality, love, religion, and London’s Epping Forest. We also have some news: next month we're launching our first ever minisode! So if you'd like more of us wanging on about books and maybe telling you some secrets, you are in luck. But for now, relax under a canopy of green and join us as we try to see the wood for the trees on Literary Friction.
22/01/19·59m 46s

Literary Friction - Year in review with Ann Wroe

In honour of the arrival of 2019, this month we’ll be looking back at the last year in books, discussing what we most enjoyed, and looking forward to what we'll be reading in the next year. “But wait!”, you say. “I wanted an author interview!” Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered, and what a gift it is (come on, bear with us, it's just after Christmas). We talked to author Ann Wroe, whose latest book Francis: A Life in Song is an unusual, beautiful, moving portrait through poetry of the life of St. Francis of Assisi and his resonance today. It’s an unusual and wonderful book, which has had glowing reviews, and it’s a perfect way to cap off the year on Literary Friction.
05/01/19·59m 10s

Literary Friction - Masculinity with Thomas Page McBee

What makes a man? Why do men fight? Is there a crisis of masculinity? These are some of the questions that authors from Ernest Hemingway to Grayson Perry have asked, and questions that Thomas Page McBee addresses head on in his searching, beautiful and wise second book Amateur, the true story of his quest to become the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Once a 'masculinity expert' for Vice, his essays and reportage have appeared in the New York Times, Playboy, Glamour, and Salon. We spoke to Thomas about Amateur, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize, and the need to drastically redefine what masculinity really means in contemporary culture. So if you want to learn what it really means to be a man, just push play.
29/11/18·59m 13s

Literary Friction - History with Esi Edugyan

From Ivanhoe to Wolf Hall to The Essex Serpent, what is it about the historical novel that is so compelling? This month, we spoke to Canadian author Esi Edugyan about her third novel, Washington Black (shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize). It tells the story of a gifted artist, born a slave on a plantation in 1830s Bermuda, and the fantastic and surprising course of his life which takes him from the Arctic to London to the deserts of Morocco in an exciting but perilous adventure. If you’re curious about what we look for in art about the past, and have ever wondered if historical novels really have to be true to history, press play and join us.
31/10/18·59m 10s

Literary Friction Special - Sally Rooney

We're thrilled to bring you this podcast special: a recording of Octavia’s live interview with author Sally Rooney at Waterstones Leeds to celebrate the publication of Normal People, her Booker-Prize-longlisted second novel, a story about love and power and privilege set in contemporary Ireland. Sally first joined us on the show last year to talk about her acclaimed first book, Conversations with Friends, which you can find in our archive if you haven't listened yet. Enjoy!
16/10/18·1h 0m

Literary Friction - High Society with Patrick deWitt

Who wants to be a millionaire? This month, darlings, we’re talking about all things hoity-toity, posh and expensive - our theme is High Society. Why are there so many rich people in fiction? Should they be anything other than the object of ridicule and scorn? Are the rich different? To help answer these questions, we talked to award-winning Canadian novelist Patrick deWitt. His fourth novel, French Exit, is the story of Frances, an upper-class widow and her adult son, Malcolm, who flee from New York to Paris when their money runs out. Accompanying them is their cat in whom the body of Frances' dead ex-husband resides, along with, eventually, a medium, a French private investigator and a lonely sycophant. If that sounds absurd and funny - it is! So grab your champagne coup and stay with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
03/10/18·58m 37s

Literary Friction - Rest & Relaxation with Ottessa Moshfegh

Everyone needs to peace out from time to time, so this month we’re talking about the fictional trope of rest and relaxation, and how authors have explored this kind of inertia - from the tale of Rip Van Winkle to the Swiss sanitorium in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Our guest is the novelist Ottessa Moshfegh, whose brilliant new novel is called My Year of Rest and Relaxation. In it, a privileged young woman living on the upper East side in Manhattan, dissatisfied with her life, decides to embark on a year of sleep and seclusion in her apartment aided by lots of prescription drugs and a permissive psychiatrist. So, kick off your shoes, recline, and stay with us for the next hour on Literary Friction.
05/09/18·58m 10s

Literary Friction - Youth Culture with Guy Gunaratne

Youth culture: is it the territory of fashion and music, or can novels tell us something about the teenage experience? This month is dedicated to the youths and their subcultures – from flappers to mods to punks to ravers – and we examine how authors have attempted to capture the fragile, gnarly reality of life as a young person in novels like A Clockwork Orange and the latest YA sensations. Our guest is Guy Gunaratne, whose explosive first novel In Our Mad and Furious City is set over 48 hours on a housing estate in North West London, and told through the voices of five of its residents. Listen in for teenage reminiscences and all the usual recommendations as we attempt to get down with the kids this month on Literary Friction.
09/08/18·57m 21s

Literary Friction - State Of The Nation with Olivia Laing

Western politics is a mess right now, so what better time to discuss the role of the State of the Nation novel - those books that capture the zeitgeist and make us reflect on the contemporary moment. Can literature speak to our times in ways other media can't? Our guest today, friend of the programme Olivia Laing, has made a good argument in favour with her fourth book, but first novel, Crudo. Unfolding in real time during the summer of 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, Crudo features a character that very closely resembles Kathy Acker coming to terms with marriage, and the state of the world around her. Listen in for our interview with Olivia, plus all the usual recommendations.
10/07/18·57m 45s

Literary Friction - Small Towns with Jon McGregor

Whether it’s Jefferson, Mississippi in the novels of William Faulkner, or coastal Maine in Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, or even the Shire, the small, tight-knit community has provided fertile ground for novelists. This month, we bring you a show dedicated to small towns in literature, partly recorded in front of a live audience at the Derby Book Festival, where we interviewed acclaimed author Jon McGregor about his latest novel, Reservoir 13. It tells the story of a girl's disappearance from a small village in the Peak District in England, and the aftershocks it leaves in the community for years to come. So listen in for our conversation with Jon, some thoughts about literary small town life, and join us in resisting the overwhelming urge to quote lyrics by Journey and John Cooger Mellancamp.
13/06/18·58m 10s

Literary Friction - On The Road With Damian Le Bas

Our theme this month is ‘On the Road’ and no - we’re not spending an hour discussing Jack Kerouac (phew). Instead, we’ll be talking about all the other wonderful books that have taken us on the road and, usually, on a journey of discovery too. Our guest is writer Damian Le Bas, whose fascinating debut The Stopping Places is a journey through Gypsy Britain, in which he visits the places scattered across the country where his Gypsy family and ancestors made their temporary homes. So listen in for a show dedicated to the tradition of books that roam, road novels and their intrepid travelling protagonists, and other books that use journeys as their narrative frame, plus all the usual recommendations. Ideal listening for those of you that are on the move!
16/05/18·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Memoir With Viv Albertine

Nothing grants insight into lived experience quite like a memoir, and the form is currently having a resurgence. This month, we celebrate the memoirs that take us from the experience of giving birth to coming out to what it’s like to be in a world-famous band, via all the richness and thorny issues that this form promises. Our guest is Viv Albertine, former guitarist in the hugely influential all-female punk band The Slits. Her first memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, was published in 2015, and she came in to talk to us about its follow-up, To Throw Away Unopened. It's published this month, and is about many things but mostly her complicated relationship with her extraordinary mother and growing up as a working-class kid in London.
17/04/18·59m 11s

Literary Friction - Rediscovery with Nell Dunn & Jennifer Hodgson

This show is dedicated to rediscovered literature - all the neglected gems that have been reintroduced to the world by passionate publishers, writers and readers. Joining us are two wonderful guests: first, playwright and writer Nell Dunn, whose 1965 book Talking to Women is a collection of edited transcripts of conversations with nine of her female friends. Out of print until now, feminist publisher Silver Press are reviving it this May. In the book, Nell speaks to author Ann Quin, the late, little-known British writer whose work has recently been thrust back into public attention, largely because indie publisher And Other Stories have released The Unmapped Country, a new collection of her stories and fragments. The book’s editor, writer and critic Jennifer Hodgson, joins us for the second segment.
21/03/18·1h 3m

Literary Friction - Friendship With Dolly Alderton

Good friends are hard to beat, and this month's show is dedicated to those bonds that are often the deepest and most enduring in our lives. Our guest, author and journalist Dolly Alderton, writes wonderfully about friendship. Her first book, Everything I Know About Love is a series of essays and other vignettes about - amongst other things - growing up in London, disastrous dates and parties, and love between friends. So join us as we talk about great literary friendships, from Lila and Elena in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels to Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
20/02/18·57m 57s

Literary Friction - A Spoonful Of Sugar With Leila Slimani

As the most famous nanny in the world once said, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but you won't need to sweeten the deal as you listen to our latest guest: French-Moroccan author Leïla Slimani joins us this month to discuss her compelling second novel Lullaby, which examines a relationship between a young Parisian couple and their nanny that ends in tragedy. Lullaby won France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt, making Leïla the twelfth woman in history to do so, and it's since become an international sensation. So listen in as we discuss the fascinating and sometimes fraught place nannies occupy in our culture. From the magical perfection of Mary Poppins to the killer babysitters of slasher B-movies, these almost-mummies are the stuff of both dreams and nightmares.
23/01/18·54m 40s

Literary Friction - Novellas with Cynan Jones

The novella - a book that you can devour in a day, or even a single sitting. Feared by contemporary publishing but loved by readers, some of the most enduring works of literature, from Death in Venice to Mrs Dalloway to The Stranger, can be included in this category. This month we were joined by a writer of very good, very short books, Welsh author Cynan Jones, so without further ado, we dedicate this episode to the pithy brilliance of short novels.
05/12/17·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Shame With Pajtim Statovci

From Adam and Eve to Hester Prynne to Cersie Lannister, characters in literature have been motivated by and undone by shame, so this month we decided to get up close and personal with this uncomfortable emotion. We spoke to author Pajtim Statovci about his brilliant first novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, which was originally published in Finnish in 2014. It tells the story of a young gay refugee from the Balkans, whose search for meaning in the midst of loneliness leads him to purchase a boa constrictor, in spite of his acute fear of snakes, and to befriend a talking cat he meets in a Helsinki gay bar.
07/11/17·58m 54s

Literary Friction - Know Your Place with Kit de Waal + Nathan Connolly + Abondance Matanda

After Brexit - the supposed ‘will of the people’ - everyone is talking about the working class. And yet the actual voice of the working class is rarely heard, especially in literature. This month, we have a very special edition of Literary Friction based around a new collection of essays on the working class by the working class called Know Your Place, published by the brilliant gang at Dead Ink Books. We talked to three authors featured in the collection about their essays and the urgent need to publish more diverse voices: award-winning novelist Kit de Waal; the editor and publisher of Know Your Place, Nathan Connolly; and London-based writer and poet Abondance Matanda.
04/10/17·54m 52s

Literary Friction - The Everyday with Karl Ove Knausgaard

It's September, the leaves are turning and Autumn has arrived, so in honour of this return to reality we bring you a show about the everyday, the mundane, the quotidian in literature. As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest, and this month we’ll be playing a recording of a live interview Carrie did with the celebrated Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard a couple weeks ago at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road. Knausgaard is best known for his epic My Struggle series, but he was in town to talk about his new book, appropriately called Autumn, the first in a quartet of titles based around the seasons. In Autumn, he describes the world around him – from chewing gum to toilet bowls to frogs – to his unborn daughter. So tune in for a celebration of the ordinary things in literature, and a discussion about how writers from George Eliot to Elizabeth Strout have made them compelling and extraordinary.
05/09/17·1h 7m

Literary Friction - The Silver Screen With Dana Spiotta

Ever since the Lumière brothers showed their 1895 film of a train pulling into a station, we have been captivated by the silver screen, and this month’s show is an ode to what happens when cinema and literature cross paths. We interviewed award-winning American novelist Dana Spiotta about her latest book, Innocents and Others, which tells the story of two friends who are both filmmakers, and the stress their relationship suffers when an enigmatic woman named Jelly comes into their lives. As usual, we’ll also discuss the theme more generally, talking about books that engage with cinema, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon to the criticism of Pauline Kael and Gilles Deleuze. So, sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show!
10/08/17·1h 3m

Literary Friction - Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Kishani Widyaratna

This month we're discussing a subject that isn't covered enough: race in Britain. Our brilliant author/guest is Reni Eddo-Lodge, who came in to talk about her first book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, a vital and passionate look at this country's long and complicated relationship with structural racism. We're also thrilled to be joined in the conversation by Kishani Widyaratna, from Picador and The White Review.
13/07/17·1h 3m

Literary Friction - Conversations With Sally Rooney

We have a very meta show for you this month: the theme is conversation, so we’ll be talking about writing about talking, from the conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities to the pithy dialogue in Bridget Jones’ Diary. You could even say that it’s a conversation about… conversations! As usual, our theme is inspired by our guest Sally Rooney, whose excellent debut novel Conversations with Friends tells the story of two female friends and former lovers, and the complicated relationship they fall into with an older married couple. Listen in and tell all your friends!
14/06/17·1h 5m

Literary Friction - Essays With Brian Dillon

The literary essay is a slippery and expansive form, and has encompassed everything from an attempt to define the word ‘camp’ to a dispatch from a cruise ship. This month we interview writer Brian Dillon about his forthcoming book, Essayism – a collection of essays about essays and an ode to the form in all its machinations. We also discuss some of our favourite essay writers including Michel de Montaigne, Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace, plus all the usual recommendations.
17/05/17·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Medicine with David France and Sarah Moss

From Thomas Mann to Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, library shelves heave with stories about the struggle to understand and overcome illness. This month, we've teamed up with The Wellcome Book Prize, which celebrates literature that engages with the topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives. We interviewed two of the authors on their excellent shortlist: David France, whose narrative history How to Survive a Plague is a riveting and devastating first-hand account of the fight against AIDS in the USA; and Sarah Moss, whose fifth novel The Tidal Zone is a complex and beautiful story about family life in the wake of a serious medical emergency. Listen in for all this and a more general discussion of medicine in literature, as well as all the usual recommendations. So kick back, pop a Vitamin C, and let us be your remedy for the next hour.
20/04/17·58m 45s

Literary Friction - Immigrants With Julianne Pachico

It seems the Western world has begun to eat itself, so in defiance, this month we bring you a show celebrating the rich diversity of immigrants in literature. From Vladamir Nabokov to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, immigrant writers have been getting the job expertly done for a very long time. Our guest is Julianne Pachico, a Colombian-American writer whose debut book The Lucky Ones is a collection of linked stories set in Colombia and New York. Just push play to hear Julianne's take on the immigrant writer's experience, our thoughts on the immigrant literary narrative, and all the usual recommendations. At least in literature our borders can remain open!
23/03/17·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Illustrations With Sara Baume

Do illustrations have a place in the novel? Pictures were commonplace in nineteenth-century books by authors like Thackeray and Dickens, and yet today almost all grown-up fiction is devoid of any illustrations, with a few notable exceptions including the work of W.G. Sebald and Douglas Coupland. Should a case be made for bringing them back? Our guest is the Irish writer Sara Baume whose first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither has won and been shortlisted for a whole host of prizes, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, A Line Made by Walking, is not only illustrated with photographs, but is infused with ideas from contemporary art. Listen in as we talk to Sara and then discuss our favourite illustrations.
03/03/17·57m 1s

Literary Friction - Short Stories With Jessie Greengrass

The short story is literature in a single shot, and the form has many masters, from Guy de Maupassant to Edgar Allan Poe to Lorrie Moore to Junot Diaz. This month join us in conversation about what a short story actually is, how to write a good one, and who writes them best. We interviewed Jessie Greengrass about her wonderful debut collection, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, which was published last year by John Murray Press. Pull up a chair and let’s hear it for the small but mighty!
27/01/17·57m 4s

Literary Friction - Future Sex With Emily Witt

Baby, it's cold outside, so come and warm your cockles with us as we talk FUTURE SEX. Writer Emily Witt joined us all the way from America to talk about her ace debut of the same name - a personal and journalistic exploration of the possibilities of free love in today’s world. We’ll also be talking about how writers from have helped us to imagine the future of sex, sexuality and relationships. Bring an open mind and come along for the ride.
05/01/17·58m 42s

Literary Friction - Resistance with Salena Godden

Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the next United States, and we are despairing. But we’re also preparing: this worldwide trend towards the normalisation of misogyny, racism, xenophobia and blatant disregard for truth demands action. What can we do? And what can books do? This show is about resistance, and we are joined by the perfect guest: Salena Godden, poet, author, essayist, performer, once described as ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’. She recently contributed to The Good Immigrant, a collection of writing about what it means to be black, asian and minority ethnic in Britain today, and stopped by O's kitchen for some wine, poetry, and real talk. Vive la revolution!
05/12/16·59m 7s

Literary Friction - Bohemian Rhapsody With Eimear McBride

This month we're joined by the celebrated Irish author Eimear McBride, who came in to discuss her fabulous second novel The Lesser Bohemians. In honour of the book's title, this show is all about La Vie Boheme. From the original Parisian bohos of the 1850s, to the Pre-Raphaelites, to the beats, the bohemian lifestyle and its artistic output has always held romantic sway in our culture. Listen in as we chat to Eimear and talk about what it really means to be a modern bohemian.
03/11/16·57m 32s

Literary Friction - The Death Of America With Gary Younge

Each week we seem to get more news about violent deaths in America. What is it with America and violence, America and guns? And what can books tell us about it? Our guest this month is Gary Younge, author, broadcaster, and award-winning columnist for the Guardian, whose latest book is Another Day in the Death of America. A moving and important meditation on the violent reality of life in the US, it tells the stories of 10 children who died from gun violence in America on a random day in 2013. We'll also be talking about how violence manifests itself in American literature, from the brutal Westerns of Cormac McCarthy to the insightful nonfiction of authors like Steven Pinker and the hard-hitting journalism of Dave Cullen. Leave your weapons at the door and come join us for some literary friction.
17/10/16·59m 10s

Literary Friction - Back to School: The Ultimate Reading List

It's that time of year again - leaves are falling and publishers are pushing out their heavy-weight literary titles - so this month we're going BACK TO SCHOOL for the Ultimate Reading List. Join us as we talk to author Dan Richards (Climbing Days) and publisher Anna Jean Hughes (The Pigeonhole) about the differences between summer and autumn reading, what they read over the holidays and what they're looking forward to reading as the nights draw in. We'll be giving our own recommendations too, and thinking about how to compile an Ultimate Reading List, if we even have the authority to do so. So polish your boots, buckle up, and get ready for a new term!
15/09/16·56m 4s

Literary Friction - Translation with Milena Busquets, Deborah Smith and Meike Ziervogel.

We’ve got the Brexit Blues here on Literary Friction, so for this show we’re celebrating something that bridges borders rather than closes them: literary translation. We’ve deviated slightly from our usual format to bring you not one but three interviews around the theme: we'll be talking to Spanish writer Milena Busquets, author of This Too Shall Pass, which has been translated into 27 different languages; literary translator Deborah Smith, who translates from Korean into English and is also the founder of Tilted Axis Press, a not-for-profit outfit dedicated to bringing marginal international work into the mainstream; and Meike Ziervogel, German novelist and founder of Peirene Press, which focusses on short translated European fiction. Join us as we hear from these brilliant writers, and just in time to celebrate Women In Translation month, too.
17/08/16·58m 6s

Literary Friction - Black Sheep With Joanna Cannon

Ever wonder if you're with the flock, or against it? British author and psychiatric doctor Joanna Cannon’s debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (a Sunday Times bestseller) explores how we treat - or more often mistreat - people who don't quite fit in. It tells the story of two young girls who decide to investigate a housewife’s disappearance from their tight-knit estate during the heat wave of 1976, and the unlikely truth they uncover. In honour of rebels and misfits everywhere, our theme this month is BLACK SHEEP. Join us as we interview Joanna, and discuss our favourite literary characters who stand on the margins - from Holden Caufield to Jane Eyre to Oscar Wao and more.
18/07/16·58m 41s

Literary Friction - Abstract Romanticism with Chris Kraus

We are incredibly excited to be joined by American artist and writer Chris Kraus, here to discuss her novel I Love Dick. A feminist classic from the 90s recently published in the UK for the first time, I Love Dick is a hybrid of memoir, fiction and theory that focuses on the main character’s desire for an academic named Dick. We rarely see the object of our desire for what they really are, and literature has always been a rich medium through which to explore these romantic abstractions. So this month's title, taken from an anecdote in I Love Dick, is the perfect starting point for a show all about the sometimes troubling vagaries of our deepest longings.
20/06/16·55m 3s

Literary Friction - Vile Bodies with Sara Pascoe

The body – especially the female body – has forever been an object of literary fascination and desire. But what about the intimate bits that make us squirm, the pungent underarms, abject anuses? Welcome to VILE BODIES, a show dedicated to literature’s uncomfortable relationship with all things corporeal, from Philoctetes' festering foot, to James Joyce’s filthy letters to his wife, to the Vagina Monologues. We interviewed brilliant comedian and writer Sara Pascoe about her debut, ANIMAL, an illuminating and hilarious tour of the female body that isn’t afraid to tackle topics like abortion, pubic hair and consent. Tune in and let's get nasty!
24/05/16·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Down The Rabbit Hole with Kevin Barry

Spring has sprung, so we're going down the rabbit hole with Kevin Barry, who joins us this month to talk about Beatlebone, his wonderful novel about a very famous John's quest to reach a tiny island that he owns in Clew Bay, off the West Coast of Ireland. Inspired by his trip, our theme is about all those literary escapes to the ends of the earth and to the centre of the mind. We'll be following that elusive rabbit's fluffy tail and lighting out for the territory with Huck Finn, breaking out of jail with the Count of Monte Cristo, and getting lost in all kids of mythical adventures. Come along for the ride.
22/04/16·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Objects With Harry Parker

Harry Parker's debut novel Anatomy of a Soldier is narrated by objects, 45 things – ranging from dog tags to a bomb to a mattress – that witness the life of Captain Tom Barnes during and in the aftermath of war in the Middle East. Inspired by the novel, our theme is OBJECTS, and in addition to interviewing Harry we look at all those things that populate our favourite books, from King Arthur's Excalibur to Desdemona's handkerchief.
29/03/16·53m 20s

Literary Friction - New Voices LIVE with Ned Beauman, Evie Wyld, Joanna Cannon and Faber New Poets

In January we teamed up with our friends at Faber Social and put together an evening of live literary excitement with the theme of 'New Voices'. It was a total sell out, but if you couldn't get a ticket, never fear! Here it is, for your listening pleasure. Tune in to hear readings from some of the fabulous Faber New Poets and bestselling debut author Joanna Cannon, followed by a four-way interview with authors Evie Wyld and Ned Beauman. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
08/03/16·56m 5s

Literary Friction - OZ With Evie Wyld

Oz, that mythical land, where days are hotter than chilli sauce and water goes down the plughole the wrong way... This month we're talking to Evie Wyld about her books 'All the Birds, Singing', and 'Everything is Teeth', both set in Australia. From the writing of Miles Franklin to Richard Flanagan via the mad world of Paul Jennings, we chat about Australia's many depictions in literature, but we also ponder the metaphorical meaning behind that nickname: Oz as the foreign, the distant, the magical and the exotic; something that the Antipodean has long represented for damp and green Britain.
28/01/16·55m 35s

Literary Friction - Arrested Development with Emma Jane Unsworth

Christmas is all about kids, big and small, so our present to you is our Arrested Development show from earlier this year - we were joined by the wonderful (and Lena Dunham fave) Emma Jane Unsworth to talk about Animals, her raucous second novel about two friends who are in no hurry to grow up. Long live Peter Pan!
25/12/15·50m 18s

Literary Friction - Generations with Sara Taylor

This month novelist Sara Taylor joins us for a show all about literary families that span multiple generations. From the Forsytes of The Forsyte Saga to the Buendías of One Hundred Years of Solitude, we continue to be fascinated by stories that follow bloodlines across decades. In Sara’s beautifully-written debut novel The Shore, multiple descendants of one family live and survive on a group of islands in the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Virginia.
07/12/15·53m 33s

Literary Friction - Last Night A DJ Saved My Life W/ David Cavanagh

This month we're joined by author and journalist David Cavanagh for a show all about music in literature. David's book, Good Night and Good Riddance, is an impressive analysis of DJ John Peel's extraordinary career, and how his eclectic taste shaped the British music scene.
05/11/15·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Animal Grammar with Max Porter

This month we're interviewing Max Porter about his first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, which features Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter – who visits a family after losing their mother. Inspired by Crow, we're discussing talking animals: not just our favourite childhood bears and bunnies, but the complex creatures in books for grown ups.
15/10/15·1h 0m

Literary Friction - Corpses With Caitlin Doughty

This month’s theme is Corpses, and our guest is Caitlin Doughty, whose book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory is a fascinating, honest, and often hilarious memoir about her life as a mortician. We also talk literary corpses in all their various states of decomposition.
30/09/15·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Confessions with Petina Gappah

This month we interview Guardian First Book Award winner Petina Gappah, whose new novel THE BOOK OF MEMORY is narrated by an albino woman convicted of murder in Harare, Zimbabwe. We also discuss confessions in literature, from St Augustine to James Frey.
14/09/15·55m 30s

Literary Friction - Imposters With Sarah Perry

This month’s guest is Sarah Perry, who joins us to talk about her gothic, dreamy debut novel AFTER ME COMES THE FLOOD. The theme is imposters, encompassing everything from Mr. Ripley to why we all identify with the Wizard of Oz.
12/08/15·56m 1s

Literary Friction - The Hidden City w/ Ramita Navai

This month we talk to Ramita Navai about her fascinating book CITY OF LIES: Love, Sex, Death & the Search for Truth in Tehran, and discuss the hidden cities of literature, both real and imaginary.
13/07/15·1h 1m

Literary Friction - Coastlines with Patrick Barkham

Joining us this month is Patrick Barkham, whose book COASTLINES: The Story of our Shore is a history of the swathes of English coast protected by the National Trust. We also talk about the British coast in literature, from Brighton Rock to Chesil Beach.
17/06/15·51m 36s

Literary Friction - Politics w/ Terry Stiastny

This month we talk to Terry Stiastny, whose debut novel ACTS OF OMISSION won the Political Novel of the Year. We also discuss politics in literature. What makes a good political book? Is a novel a good form of protest?
01/06/15·58m 11s
Heart UK