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Birdsong19980508 James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to author Sebastian Faulks about his bestselling novel, `Birdsong'.
Beloved19980607 James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to author Toni Morrison about her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel `Beloved'.
Beloved19980612 James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to author Toni Morrison about her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel `Beloved'.
Fatherland1998070519980710James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to author Robert Harris about his international bestseller `Fatherland'.
Captain Corelli1998080219980807James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to Louis de Bernieres about his hugely successful novel `Captain Corelli's Mandolin'.
 2004120520041209James Naughtie's guest is Carol Ann Duffy, one of the most widely read British poets.
She discusses her inventive and funny collection The World's Wife.
 2005010220050106Zadie Smith talks to a group of readers about one of the most talked about fictional débuts of recent years, White Teeth, which Zadie wrote at the tender age of 26.
Adored by critics and readers like, the novel addresses contemporary race issues, and depicts life in LONDON in the 1950s and 1970s for two male characters, Archie Jones and Samad Miah Iqbal.
 2005020620050210Bill Bryson meets readers to discuss his bestselling book A Short History of Nearly Everything - his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to Darwin's theory of evolution.
On his travels through space and time, Bill Bryson encounters a splendid gallery of the most fascinating, eccentric, competitive, and foolish personalities ever to ask a hard question.
He takes subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science.
James Naughtie presents.
 2005030620050310James Naughtie invites Stephen Fry to put on his novelist's hat and meet readers to discuss his darkly comic novel The Hippopotamus.
Stephen Fry puts on his novelist's hat and meets readers to discuss his darkly comic novel "The Hippotamus".
It's the story of Ted, an old, sour, whisky-sodden beast of a poet and drama critic who loses his job, and seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan.
There he finds strange goings on.
James Naughtie presents.
 2005050120050505Andrea Levy won last year's Orange Prize and Whitbread Prize for her novel Small Island.
She joins readers to discuss the novel.
James Naughtie presents.
Andrea Levy won last year's Orange Prize and Whitbread Prize for her novel "Small Island", which has been a runaway success and is a current favourite with book groups round the UK.
Andrea joins readers in Bookclub to discuss the novel, the tale of two immigrants from Jamaica in the post-war years, and which is based on the story of her own parents.
 2005060520050609Adrian Mole is almost a national treasure, with his unrequited love for Pandora and his terrible poetry.
Over ten million Mole books have been sold worldwide since the first diary appeared in 1982, and the book is often used in family therapy.
His creator Sue Townsend is one of the UK's foremost comic novelists, and she joins James Naughtie and readers in BIRMINGHAM to discuss Mole's first journal, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and ¾, a poignant and sometimes hilarious mix of teenage angst and a desire to be somebody.
 2005070320050707Dr Oliver Sacks talks about The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.
His collection of true-life case studies into neurological disorders was written with warmth, sympathy and in a prose style from the point of view of the doctor.
It is interesting, entertaining and even funny in parts.
The audience discussing the book with James Naughtie include a couple of readers who have suffered from the same kind of disorders, and practising neurologists.
The audience discussing the book with James Naughtie include a couple of readers who have suffered from the same kind of disorders, as well as practising neurologists.
 2005080720050811Michael Dibdin is a crime writer who enjoys a literary reputation.
In his novel Blood Rain, the ninth in his Aurelio Zen series, Inspector Zen (an Italian detective) has got the posting he always dreaded - he has been sent to Sicily, home of the Mafia, in a nondescript liaison job.
Dibdin discusses Blood Rain with a group of readers and James Naughtie presents.
He discusses his novel Blood Rain, the ninth in his Aurelio Zen series.
Inspector Zen is an Italian detective and in this book he has got the posting he always dreaded - he has been sent to Sicily, home of the Mafia, in a nondescript liaison job.
 2005090420050908Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier cast a spell over a whole generation of French readers in the 20th century, with its romanticism, its portrayal of adolescent friendship and its evocation of pastoral France.
But does it still speak to readers today?
Novelist and poet Michèle Roberts is our Bookclub guide to the novel.
Readers in Paris include teachers and students.
Recorded at the studios of Radio France, with James Naughtie presenting.
 2005100220051006Playwright, screenwriter, novelist and film-maker Hanif Kureishi discusses his semi-autobiographical book The Buddha of Suburbia with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
It was first published in 1990 and has been translated into 30 languages.
Karim, the novel's young hero, like Kureishi, has a Pakistani father and an English mother.
The novel describes Karim's struggle for social and sexual identity, and is a comic coming-of-age novel and a satirical portrait of race relations in Britain during the 1970s.
 2005110620051110Historian Antonia Fraser talks about The Gunpowder Plot, her exploration behind the conditions and motives that surrounded the fateful night of 5 November, 1605.
The book unravels the tangled web of religion and politics that led Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and others to attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, King James I and his family, in the first modern attempt at terrorism.
Presented by James Naughtie.
 2005120420051208American writer Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most interesting, adventurous and prolific writers working today.
She joins readers in Bookclub to discuss We Were the Mulvaneys, the story of the break-up of a contented family after the disaster of a rape which destroys its pride and its cohesion.
James Naughtie presents.
She joins readers in Bookclub to discuss We Were the Mulvaneys, the story of the break-up of a contented family after the random disaster of a rape which destroys its pride and its cohesion.
 2006010120060105Bookclub meets one of the most unregenerate bounders in British fiction: Sir Harry Flashman; and his chronicler, the author George MacDonald Fraser.
Flashman began life as the bully in Tom Brown's Schooldays but achieved global notoriety when Fraser reincarnated him in the 1960s in the fictional Flashman Papers.
George MacDonald Fraser took on Flashman's life story from when he was expelled from Rugby school for drunkenness, he put him in the army and sent him off to fight in the first Afghan War in 1839; the first of his many adventures in Victorian military campaigns.
The author isn't sure why he chose Flashman for his anti-hero, he just wondered one day what might have happened to him and took up his story.
Fraser's Flashman is still a drunken bully; in fact worse.
He's a cad, a poltroon, a deceiving braggard, a coward and a seducer of other men's wives.
Yet he is extraordinarily popular and the 12 books in the series have sold in their millions, and generated several fan clubs too.
When published in the States, many reviewers thought the first book was a genuine diary.
Bookclub readers have been reading the first of the Flashman papers, simply called Flashman.
 2006020520060209Holidays in Hell
By PJ O'Rourke.
Remember when foreign news was about Reagan and Gorby, the Lebanon and El Salvador? American satirist PJ O'Rourke joins readers in Bookclub to discuss Holidays in Hell - his spiky and sometimes outrageous account of visits to troublespots around the world when he was foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine in the late 1980s.
James Naughtie presents.
Remember when foreign news was about Reagan and Gorbachev, the Lebanon and El Salvador? American satirist PJ O'Rourke joins readers in Bookclub to discuss Holidays in Hell - his spiky and sometimes outrageous account of visits to troublespots around the world when he was foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine in the late 1980s.
 2006030520060309The holder of the Orange Prize for Fiction, Lionel Shriver, joins Bookclub to discuss her controversial and compelling novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
It details the painfully honest analysis of a mother whose unloved son has grown up to commit a horrifying crime.
Is the mother to blame? Or was Kevin simply born bad? A studio audience asks questions about a book that raises profound questions about motherhood.
James Naughtie presents.
 2006040220060406Malorie Blackman joins James Naughtie to discuss Noughts and Crosses, her novel set in an alternate reality where people are either crosses (with prospects) or noughts.
 2006050720060511Ali Smith is fast becoming a major voice in contemporary British writing.
She joins readers to discuss Hotel World, her experimental novel shortlisted for the Booker and Orange prizes.
Recorded at the Jubilee Library in Brighton, and presented by James Naughtie 
 2006060420060608Lindsey Davis joins readers in Bookclub to discuss Time to Depart part of her series of thrillers set in Ancient Rome.
Her investigator is Marcus Didius Falco, a kind of 1950s gumshoe detective operating in the teeming bustle of Rome, from the Emperor's circle to the boozers in the taverns by the river Tiber.
James Naughtie presents.
 2006070220060706This month's book choice pushes the boundary between fiction and the writings of a reporter or travel-writer.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells the story of what John Berendt saw, heard, experienced in Savannah, Georgia, when he lived there in the early '90s and when the town was turned upside down by a strange murder.
James Naughtie presents and readers ask the questions.
 2006080620060810James Naughtie celebrates the 100th edition of Bookclub with the master of American crime fiction, Elmore Leonard.
August's book choice is Rum Punch, set in Florida it features the world of thieves and guns, thugs and rough bail bondsmen, dangerous eccentrics and the marvellous Jackie Burke, later changed into Jackie Brown in the film of the same name by Quentin Tarantino.
A studio audience ask the questions.
 2006090320060907Matthew Kneale won the Whitbread Book of the Year 2000 prize with his novel, English Passengers.
He joins readers and presenter James Naughtie to discuss the work.
 2006100120061005Novelist Jane Gardam joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss Old Filth, the life story of a judge.
 2006110520061109Scientist Lewis Wolpert joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss Malignant Sadness, an account of his battle with acute depression, which combines his experiences and information about diagnosis and treatment, with excerpts from poems by other suffers including Shelly and Gerald Manley Hopkins.
 2007010720070111Deemed one of the best books of the last decade, Bookclub welcomes Jonathan Franzen as guest to discuss The Corrections, which was published to great acclaim just a week after 9/11.
 2007020420070208Val McDermid weaves webs of psychological terror in her crime fiction.
She joins readers in Bookclub to discuss The Mermaids Singing, the story of a serial killer who stalks the gay subculture of a northern town.
It's the first book to feature her character Tony Hill, the psychological profiler, and its content is not for the squeamish.
James Naughtie presents.
 2007030420070308Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most powerful and enigmatic woman of her age.
Historian Alison Weir discusses her biography of Eleanor, the mother of Richard the Lionheart and King John and wife to the Kings of England and France, with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
 2007040120070405James Naughtie and an audience of readers talk to comic fiction author Jonathan Coe, who discusses his novel What A Carve Up! The story of a powerful, wealthy and ruthless family, the book is a satire on Thatcherite Britain.
 2007050620070510James Naughtie and an audience of readers talk to author Jodi Picoult.
Her novel My Sister's Keeper is about a young girl who sues her parents for the right to make her own decisions about how her body is used when a kidney transplant is planned in order to save her older sister.
 2007060320070607From the Hay Festival, James Naughtie and an audience of readers talk to David Mitchell to discuss Cloud Atlas, the novel that made him an overnight literary star.
The book explores slavery in six nested stories that move from the remote South Pacific in the 19th Century to the far future after a nuclear apocalypse.
The book explores slavery in six nested stories that move from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to the far future after a nuclear apocalypse.
 20070701 James Naughtie is joined by Germaine Greer to discuss her groundbreaking book The Female Eunuch.
Published in 1970, the book changed women's lives and has been in print ever since.
 2007080520070809James Naughtie and an audience of readers talk to Colin Dexter about The Remorseful Day, Chief Inspector Morse's last case.
 2007090220070906James Naughtie and an audience of readers discuss Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which first appeared in a daily column in the San Francisco Chronicle and became a best-selling series of novels.
The first book in the series embraces all the promiscuity and hedonism of 1970s San Francisco.
With its array of eccentric characters and bizarre plot-lines, the novel is a hilarious read.
 20071007 James Naughtie and an audience of readers talk to James Robertson about his historical novel Joseph Knight, winner of two major Scottish literary prizes in 2003/4.
 2007110420071108James Naughtie and an audience of readers discuss American author Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Poisonwood Bible.
The story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.
What follows is a suspenseful tale of the family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa.
 2007120220071206James Naughtie and readers meet the 1982 Booker Prize winner Thomas Keneally.
The chosen book is Schindler's Ark, based on the real life story of Oskar Schindler, a young German businessman who risked his own life to save more than a thousand Polish Jews from the gas chamber.
The novel, which remains one of the best evocations of the Holocaust, was made into an Oscar-winning film by Steven Spielberg.
 2008010620080110James Naughtie and readers meet American author Alice Sebold to discuss her debut novel The Lovely Bones, featuring a teenage narrator who has been murdered.
Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon looks down from her personal heaven, watching her family racked by her death and following their progress towards recovery.
First published in 2002, the Lovely Bones has now sold over a million copies and remained on the New York Times hardback bestseller list for a year.
 2008020320080207James Naughtie and an audience of readers discuss Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus, an erotic thriller set in Renaissance Florence.
A young woman, forbidden to paint by society's strictures, finds an outlet for her creativity via an unusual marriage and a relationship with an artist.
 2008030220080306James Naughtie and an audience of readers are joined by William Hague to discuss his biography of William Pitt the Younger, who became the youngest ever prime minister in 1783 at the age of 24.
Hague's book offers many insights into the life of an extraordinary man who dominated politics in his time, but died when he was just 46.
 2008040620080410Poet Simon Armitage joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss his translation of the Middle English epic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Describing the poem as one of the jewels in the crown of English literature, Simon tells the story of Arthurian Knight Sir Gawain and the Green Knight's deadly challenge in gritty prose, concentrating on the alliteration and Northern voice of the original poet.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie2008050420080508Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joins James Naughtie and readers to talk about Half of a Yellow Sun, winner of last year's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.
She is the youngest ever winner of the prize and her novel was praised for its intimate portraits of one family, their close circle of friends and neighbours, and how the horrors of the 1960s Biafra War in Nigeria engulf them and test their loyalties.
 20080601 Jan Morris joins James Naughtie and readers to talk about her portrait of the city of Venice.
The book, simply entitled Venice, was written nearly fifty years ago.
 20080605 Jan Morris joins James Naughtie and readers to talk about her portrait of the city of Venice.
The book, simply entitled Venice, was written nearly fifty years ago and is a classic account of the city's history and strange charms.
 20080706 With James Naughtie.
Norwegian author Asne Seierstad discusses The Bookseller of Kabul, the novelisation of her time in Afghanistan as a foreign correspondent just after 9/11.
 20080710 With James Naughtie.
Norwegian author Asne Seierstad discusses The Bookseller of Kabul, the novelisation of her time in Afghanistan as a foreign correspondent just after 9/11.
 20080803 Irish writer Colm Toibin joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss his Man Booker shortlisted novel The Master, a fictionalised account of five years in the life of Henry James.
James is often thought of as a writer's writer, and Toibin's story explores the differences and the tensions between the master novelist and the private man - anxious, troubled and unsure.
 20080807 Irish writer Colm Toibin joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss his Man Booker shortlisted novel The Master, a fictionalised account of five years in the life of Henry James.
James is often thought of as a writer's writer, and Toibin's story explores the differences and the tensions between the master novelist and the private man - anxious, troubled and unsure.
Gore Vidal - Point To Point Navigation2008090720120806James Naughtie talks to one of the great American men of letters - novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist, raconteur and notorious wit Gore Vidal. Now in his eighties but with his acerbity still intact, Vidal joins an audience of readers to discuss his memoir Point to Point Navigation.
James Naughtie talks to Gore Vidal, one of the great American men of letters.
James Naughtie talks to one of the great American men of letters - novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist, raconteur and notorious wit Gore Vidal.
Now in his eighties but with his acerbity still intact, Vidal joins an audience of readers to discuss his memoir Point to Point Navigation.
 20080911 James Naughtie talks to one of the great American men of letters - novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist, raconteur and notorious wit Gore Vidal.
Now in his eighties but with his acerbity still intact, Vidal joins an audience of readers to discuss his memoir Point to Point Navigation.
 20081005 James Naughtie talks to Michael Morpurgo, the former Children's Laureate, about his novel Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, which was inspired by the history of English orphans transported to Australia after the Second World War.
Recorded at the Children's Literature Festival in Bath.
 20081009 James Naughtie talks to Michael Morpurgo, the former Children's Laureate, about his novel Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, which was inspired by the history of English orphans transported to Australia after the Second World War.
Recorded at the Children's Literature Festival in Bath.
 20081102 James Naughtie and Fay Weldon join an audience of readers to discuss her novel The Cloning of Joanna May, first published in 1989.
She has written over 30 novels but maintains that this is the one that she is most proud of, with its characteristic black humour and impressive prescience about the science of cloning and how it might affect the human race.
 20081106 James Naughtie and Fay Weldon join an audience of readers to discuss her novel The Cloning of Joanna May, first published in 1989.
She has written over 30 novels but maintains that this is the one that she is most proud of, with its characteristic black humour and impressive prescience about the science of cloning and how it might affect the human race.
  20081207James Naughtie talks to the Indian writer Amitav Ghosh.
He joins an audience of readers to discuss his novel The Glass Palace, a family saga with a historical sweep from 1880s Mandalay to modern-day Burma.
07/12/200820081211 James Naughtie talks to the Indian writer Amitav Ghosh.
He joins an audience of readers to discuss his novel The Glass Palace, a family saga with a historical sweep from 1880s Mandalay to modern-day Burma.
 20090104 James Naughtie talks to the psychologist Oliver James about 'affluenza'.
James Naughtie talks to the psychologist Oliver James.
He joins an audience of readers to put his case against 'affluenza', a virus which he says is sweeping through the English-speaking world.
Written just before the advent of the credit crunch, he points out that the aspiration to and trappings of affluence might be emotionally harmful.
04/01/200920090108 James Naughtie talks to the psychologist Oliver James about 'affluenza'.
James Naughtie talks to the psychologist Oliver James.
He joins an audience of readers to put his case against 'affluenza', a virus which he says is sweeping through the English-speaking world.
Written just before the advent of the credit crunch, he points out that the aspiration to and trappings of affluence might be emotionally harmful.
 20090201 James Naughtie talks to the novelist Bernard Cornwell.
He joins an audience of readers to discuss the first novel in his series set in Saxon England, The Last Kingdom.
The novel centres on the story of Uhtred Ragnarson, a Northumbrian boy captured by the invading Vikings and raised as one of their own, who returns to the Saxons after the Danish warrior who raised him is killed.
01/02/200920090205 James Naughtie talks to the novelist Bernard Cornwell.
Bernard Cornwell20090205 James Naughtie talks to the novelist Bernard Cornwell.
He joins an audience of readers to discuss the first novel in his series set in Saxon England, The Last Kingdom.
The novel centres on the story of Uhtred Ragnarson, a Northumbrian boy captured by the invading Vikings and raised as one of their own, who returns to the Saxons after the Danish warrior who raised him is killed.
Al Kennedy20090301 James Naughtie talks to the author and part-time stand-up comedian AL Kennedy about her 2007 Costa prize-winning novel, Day, the story of RAF gunner Alfred Day and how he comes to terms with the end of the Second World War.
James Naughtie talks to the author and part-time stand-up comedian AL Kennedy.
Andrew Motion20090405 As he prepares to leave the post, Andrew Motion talks to James Naughtie about his 10 years as Poet Laureate.
He discusses his collection Public Property, which was the first to be published after he became Poet Laureate.
Some of the poems were written to mark or celebrate events or people.
Others reveal some of his own strongest influences - the countryside, his upbringing and his parents as well as poets he most admires, including Wordsworth, Keats, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin
Andrew Motion talks to James Naughtie about his 10 years as Poet Laureate.
Andrew Motion20090409 As he prepares to leave the post, Andrew Motion talks to James Naughtie about his 10 years as Poet Laureate.
He discusses his collection Public Property, which was the first to be published after he became Poet Laureate.
Some of the poems were written to mark or celebrate events or people.
Others reveal some of his own strongest influences - the countryside, his upbringing and his parents as well as poets he most admires, including Wordsworth, Keats, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin
Andrew Motion talks to James Naughtie about his 10 years as Poet Laureate.
Xiaolu Guo20090503 James Naughtie and readers meet Chinese author Xiaolu Guo to talk about her novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers.
It is a story about discovery, language and understanding, and how cultural differences can sometimes be too great for a relationship to last.
James Naughtie and readers meet Chinese author Xiaolu Guo.
Xiaolu Guo20090507 James Naughtie and readers meet Chinese author Xiaolu Guo to talk about her novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers.
It is a story about discovery, language and understanding, and how cultural differences can sometimes be too great for a relationship to last.
James Naughtie and readers meet Chinese author Xiaolu Guo.
Kate Grenville20090607 Orange Prize winner Kate Grenville talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River and answers questions from a group of readers.
Told through the eyes of 19th-century deportee William Thornhill and his family as they arrive in Australia, the novel examines the themes of ownership, belonging and identity from the point of view of the settlers and the Aboriginal people who were already there.
Writing the book, says Kate Grenville, was 'like getting a new set of eyes and ears'.
Kate Grenville talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River.
talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River.
Kate Grenville20090611 Orange Prize winner Kate Grenville talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River and answers questions from a group of readers.
Told through the eyes of 19th-century deportee William Thornhill and his family as they arrive in Australia, the novel examines the themes of ownership, belonging and identity from the point of view of the settlers and the Aboriginal people who were already there.
Writing the book, says Kate Grenville, was 'like getting a new set of eyes and ears'.
Kate Grenville talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River.
talks to James Naughtie about her novel The Secret River.
Bernard Maclaverty20090705 James Naughtie and readers meet Northern Irish writer Bernard Maclaverty to discuss his Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Grace Notes, which concerns a young female composer very much in a man's world.
Now living in Scotland, MacLaverty returns to his native Belfast especially for the recording of the programme.
James Naughtie and readers meet Northern Irish writer Bernard Maclaverty 
Bernard Maclaverty20090709 James Naughtie and readers meet Northern Irish writer Bernard Maclaverty to discuss his Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Grace Notes, which concerns a young female composer very much in a man's world.
Now living in Scotland, MacLaverty returns to his native Belfast especially for the recording of the programme.
James Naughtie and readers meet Northern Irish writer Bernard Maclaverty 
Cj Sansom20090802 James Naughtie and readers meet the best-selling writer CJ Sansom.
They discuss Dissolution, the first in his series of Tudor mysteries featuring the investigator Matthew Shardlake.
Shardlake is sent to Sussex to investigate a murder in a monastery, just as Henry VIII is beginning his reformation of the Church.
James Naughtie and readers talk to bestselling writer CJ Sansom about Dissolution.
Cj Sansom20090806 James Naughtie and readers talk to bestselling writer CJ Sansom about Dissolution.
Robert Macfarlane20090906 James Naughtie and readers talk to travel writer and literary critic Robert Macfarlane about his book The Wild Places, in which he sets out to discover if there remain any genuinely wild places in Britain and Ireland.
It is an account of journeys that he made to the remaining wilderness in the islands.
He climbs hills and mountains, walks across moors and bogs, luxuriates beside hidden lochs, swims through caves and disappears into forests, all in search of that special quality of solitude in communion with nature.
James Naughtie talks to travel writer Robert Macfarlane about his book The Wild Places.
Robert Macfarlane 20090910 James Naughtie talks to travel writer Robert Macfarlane about his book The Wild Places.
Gillian Slovo20091004 James Naughtie and readers talk to Gillian Slovo about her novel Red Dust, a courtroom drama set in post-apartheid South Africa.
Gillian is the daughter of Joe Slovo, one of the founding members of the African National Congress, and Ruth First, an anti-apartheid campaigner murdered by security forces in the early 1980s.
The novel draws heavily on Gillian's own experience of coming face to face with her mother's killer during the Truth and Reconciliation hearings of the new South Africa.
James Naughtie and readers talk to Gillian Slovo about her novel Red Dust.
Gillian Slovo20091008 James Naughtie and readers talk to Gillian Slovo about her novel Red Dust.
Linda Grant20091101 James Naughtie and readers talk to Linda Grant about her novel When I Lived in Modern Times, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000.
Linda is known for bringing a strong Jewish identity to most of her writing.
'Scratch a Jew and you've got a story', remarks the main character Evelyn Sert on the story's first page as she looks over her life.
The novel follows Evelyn - hairdresser, spy, lover - on her voyage from post-war London to Tel Aviv, where the British are preparing to leave Palestine and the new state of Israel is about to be born.
James Naughtie talks to Linda Grant about her novel, When I Lived in Modern Times.
Linda Grant20091105 James Naughtie talks to Linda Grant about her novel, When I Lived in Modern Times.
John Irving2009120620091210James Naughtie and readers talk to celebrated American author John Irving about his novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany.
The novel starts with a shock - the eponymous hero hits a foul ball in a baseball match and kills his best friend's mother.
It then moves through to spooky premonitions during an amateur performance of A Christmas Carol, to a drunken psychiatrist driving down school steps, to a bloody end during the Vietnam war.
Yet there is pattern and meaning in such bizarre antics, and part of the fun for the reader is to work them out.
Irving reveals the mysteries of one of fiction's most extraordinary characters, Owen Meany - the little guy with the falsetto voice.
James Naughtie and readers talk to John Irving about his novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Alexander Mccall Smith2010010320100107James Naughtie talks to Alexander McCall Smith about his novel 44 Scotland Street.
World-wide bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith meets readers to discuss the first in his series of humorous novels set in Edinburgh - 44 Scotland Street. The presenter is James Naughtie.
The book tells the story of the interlocking lives of the inhabitants of adjoining flats in a house in the Georgian New Town of Edinburgh - their comic adventures, their foibles and accidents, their chance criss-crossings day-to-day.
McCall Smith talks about the challenges of writing one thousand words a day, and how readers would advise him on where to take the story next, and what they thought he should do with characters they didn't like. He also explains how a few real people - novelist Ian Rankin, art gallery owner Guy Peploe - turned up in the stories.
January's Bookclub choice: Unreliable Memoirs (Vol 1) by Clive James
Producer: Dymphna Flynn.
Clive James20100207 James Naughtie and readers talk to Clive James about the first volume of his autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs, which has sold over a million copies.
Clive James is a poet, essayist, novelist, documentarist, critic, talk show host, travel writer, cultural commentator - and red-hot tango dancer.
The audience talk to Clive about Unreliable Memoirs, which covers his boyhood years in Kogarah, a suburb of Sydney.
Clive was born in 1939; the other event that year (he says) was the outbreak of war, from which his father never returned.
Clive tells Bookclub how that event has dominated his whole life.
James Naughtie and readers talk to Clive James about the first volume of his autobiography
Clive James20100211 James Naughtie and readers talk to Clive James about the first volume of his autobiography
Douglas Coupland20100307 James Naughtie and readers talk to Canadian author Douglas Coupland about his cult novel Generation X.
First published in 1991, it became a worldwide bestseller and defined a generation.
Set during a time of yuppies and youth unemployment, the characters in Generation X are all in their late 20s, highly educated but with no ambition - they work in bars, and tell each other stories.
This is the novel that made 'McJob' a popular term; and looking back at the novel Douglas speaks movingly of his own struggle as he set out to be a writer.
James Naughtie and readers talk to Douglas Coupland about his 1991 cult novel Generation X
Douglas Coupland20100311 James Naughtie and readers talk to Douglas Coupland about his 1991 cult novel Generation X
 20100404 Jeanette Winterson talks to James Naughtie and readers about the novel that made her a literary star, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
First published 25 years ago when Jeanette herself was just twenty-five, 'Oranges' as she calls it, is the story of her fictional counterpart Jeanette, adopted and growing up in a northern working class industrial town.
Jeanette's parents are part of an Evangelical Christian community and her mother thinks she is one of God's elect.
Zealous and passionate, Jeanette seems destined for a life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.
At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family for the young woman she loves.
In structure, content and style 'Oranges' was unlike any other novel at the time.
Reflecting back Jeanette Winterson has called it a 'comforting' book not because it offers any easy answers but because it tackles difficult questions and once you can talk about what is troubling you, you are someway towards handling it.
Recorded with a group of twenty-five readers in the studio, Bookclub with Jeanette Winterson is an intimate discussion of how a writer came to terms with her past.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
May's Bookclub choice : My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Jeanette Winterson about Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
04/04/201020100408 James Naughtie talks to Jeanette Winterson about Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
Orhan Pamuk20100502 , Turkey's most prominent writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Fiction, joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss My Name is Red.
The novel is a complicated mixture of murder mystery, fairy tale and exploration of the medieval world of the Turkish miniaturist painter.
The novel begins - surreally - from the point of view of the murdered man; his body thrown down the bottom of a well, he waits for this death to be discovered.
The story is then taken up by a myriad of characters, which include a coin and a horse, as well as the colour Red itself.
They recount a chapter at least each - in fact this book has twenty narrators and yet, as James Naughtie and readers testify, it is a page-turner.
My Name is Red is the most popular of Pamuk's in the English speaking world, due he says to the whodunnit element, but also to the global appeal of the art.
Orhan Pamuk discloses how as a young man he longed to be a painter, and so as a successful writer, it was a natural progression to write about the joys of painting, and to explore how an artist feels as their hands move across the page.
His reputation as the funny man of his family is also in evidence.
Despite his intellectual credentials, humour is an important tool for him.
He says he doesn't like writing a serious book, and if the reader isn't smiling when he reads his work, then he feels guilty.
June's Bookclub choice : The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk about his novel My Name is Red.
Orhan Pamuk20100506 James Naughtie talks to Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk about his novel My Name is Red.
Lynne Reid Banks20100606 James Naughtie and readers talk to the celebrated author Lynne Reid Banks about her first novel, The L-Shaped Room.
It was an instant success and has been in print ever since it was published exactly fifty years ago.
It's the story of Jane, a single young woman who falls pregnant.
Reading The L-Shaped Room again in 2010, it's easy to forget what a taboo it was to be pregnant and unmarried in the early 1960s.
Jane is a brave character who decides to bring up the baby by herself, after her father throws her out.
But her feelings are mixed, and as almost a punishment to herself she rents a grubby L-shaped room at the top of a run- down boarding house in Fulham.
Gradually as she settles in and does up the room, she makes friends, and in tandem with the improvements to her surroundings, her life gets better.
This is a novel that has inspired young women to independence, whatever their situations.
Readers in the audience describe what this book means to them - from a woman whose own mother brought her up single-handedly to another who says that the line about Jane having to wear a wedding ring 'brought it all back.'
Lynne Reid Banks was one of the first female news-reporters at ITN.
Although she complained she was always given 'soft stories' she did not consider herself a feminist at the time, which is ironic, as the L-Shaped Room is considered as a feminist novel.
Recorded with a group of twenty-five readers in the studio, Bookclub with Lynne Reid Banks is a lively discussion with a writer looking back at the book that changed her life as well as many readers' lives.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
July's Bookclub choice : Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Lynne Reid Banks about her novel The L-Shaped Room.
Lynne Reid Banks20100610 James Naughtie talks to Lynne Reid Banks about her novel The L-Shaped Room.
Henning Mankell20100704 James Naughtie and readers talk to the Swedish thriller writer Henning Mankell about his novel Sidetracked, featuring his detective Kurt Wallander.
Henning Mankell's character is now in the pantheon of fictional detectives.
Like Conan Doyle before him, Mankell receives letters from readers addressed to Kurt Wallander.
They think he's real because he's like us.
He's a detective who suffers angst about the way the world is changing, readers witness his depressions and his difficult relationships with women.
Mankell calls it the 'diabetes syndrome'.
Can you imagine, he says, James Bond stopping mid-action for a shot of insulin?
Mankell was already a well known writer in Sweden before he found worldwide fame with Wallander.
He created Wallander to write about the changes in Swedish society.
Always known for its generous welfare state and its tolerance, Mankell was dismayed to see a certain xenophobia developing with race crimes against immigrants in the early nineties.
For him, the best way to explore this issue was within a crime story, and so he needed a detective to solve the mystery.
Recorded with a group of twenty-five readers in the studio, Bookclub with Henning Mankell is a lively and entertaining discussion that belies any stereotype of Swedish moroseness - with a writer considering his best known creation.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
August's Bookclub choice : 'What I Loved' by Siri Hustvedt.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Henning Mankell about Sidetracked, a Kurt Wallander novel.
Henning Mankell20100708 James Naughtie talks to Henning Mankell about Sidetracked, a Kurt Wallander novel.
Siri Hustvedt20100801 James Naughtie and readers talk to American writer Siri Hustvedt about her novel What I Loved.
Siri Hustvedt's novel is part love story, thriller, and part family saga.
It's set in New York's glamorous art world, and starts in 1975 when an art historian buys a remarkable painting of a woman and tracks down the artist.
The two men become good friends and their lives intertwine as their sons grow up together.
In the boys' teenage years the worlds of the two families fall apart and the novel changes tack, as a mystery develops in the second half of the book that the reader has no idea about in the novel's early stages.
This is a novel about love and loss that became a word-of-mouth success with book groups, and went on to become a world wide bestseller after its first publication in 2003.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
September's Bookclub choice : 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Siri Hustvedt about her novel What I Loved.
Yann Martel20100905 James Naughtie and readers talk to the Canadian writer Yann Martel about his novel Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Man Booker prize and went on to be a global phenomenon.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
October's Bookclub choice : 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' by Roddy Doyle
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Yann Martel about Life of Pi.
Yann Martel20100909 James Naughtie and readers talk to the Canadian writer Yann Martel about his novel Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Man Booker prize and went on to be a global phenomenon.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
October's Bookclub choice : 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' by Roddy Doyle
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Yann Martel about Life of Pi.
Roddy Doyle20101003 James Naughtie and readers talk to the Irish writer Roddy Doyle about his Booker prize winning novel Paddy Clarke HA HA HA.
In the novel ten year old Paddy rampages through the streets of suburban Dublin with a pack of like-minded boys, playing cowboys and Indians, etching their names in wet concrete and lighting fires.
To get into the character of the boy Roddy took himself into his own childhood memories.
He walked round Dublin and tried to remember how the City looked from a child's eye view, and he saw things he hadn't seen since he was ten, and realised that children don't discriminate in their outlook.
In the book Doyle captures the sensations and speech patterns of a ten year old without resorting to sentimentality.
This is a book that reminds you of your own childhood, the fun things, the scary, and the incomprehensible.
It's a portrayal of ordinary family life - the father learning to drive is just one comic set piece; but there's also the brutality of the school playground and the unvarnished but slow realisation that Paddy's parents' marriage is falling apart.
Roddy Doyle wrote this book when he was still a teacher and his son was newly born.
He finished longer passages during the Christmas and Easter holidays when he had more time; and wrote shorter sections when his son was napping.
Roddy Doyle is known for the sharp edged street humour in previous books such as the Commitments and the Snapper, and in the programme he shows he still has that trademark Dublin wit.
James Naughtie chairs the programme.
November's Bookclub choice : 'Thomas Hardy - Time Torn Man' by Claire Tomalin
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Irish writer Roddy Doyle joins James Naughtie to discuss his novel Paddy Clarke HA HA HA.
Roddy Doyle20101007 Irish writer Roddy Doyle joins James Naughtie to discuss his novel Paddy Clarke HA HA HA.
Claire Tomalin (on Thomas Hardy)20101107 James Naughtie and readers talk to award winning biographer Claire Tomalin about her life of Thomas Hardy - The Time-Torn Man.
Claire Tomalin is celebrated for her ability to create an intimacy of her subjects' life, whether it's Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen, Dickens's mistress Nelly Ternan or in this edition of Bookclub, the author and poet Thomas Hardy.
Claire reveals a personal relationship with Hardy - with childhood memories of her sister reciting his poem 'Lyonnesse'; and how she snuck into her local library to read Jude the Obscure at fourteen, much to her mother's dismay.
Her mother was born just two years after the publication of Jude in 1895, and was aware of how its revolutionary ideas about marriage and its violence had shaken the literary establishment - Bishops had wanted to ban the book.
Thomas Hardy was a man full of contradictions.
His marriage to his wife Emma disintegrated and even though they lived together they were no longer on speaking terms.
Yet on her death he wrote movingly about their early love in the much praised collection "Poems 1912-13." including 'The Voice' - which begins 'Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me...' and which normally makes Claire cry when she reads it.
He was known for his bucolic tales of Dorset but loved spending time in London for The Season.
He wrote about the breakdown in rural communities but took no political action.
Born into rural poverty, his funeral bier was carried by his great contemporaries George Bernard Shaw, AE Housman and Rudyard Kipling.
He was a great Victorian novelist who became a great 20th century poet.
December's Bookclub choice : 'The Carhullan Army' by Sarah Hall
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Claire Tomalin about her biography of Thomas Hardy 
Claire Tomalin (on Thomas Hardy)20101111 James Naughtie talks to Claire Tomalin about her biography of Thomas Hardy 
Sarah Hall - The Carhullan Army2010120520101209James Naughtie talks to Sarah Hall about her novel The Carhullan Army.
James Naughtie and readers talk to Sarah Hall about her novel The Carhullan Army, recorded at the Chapter and Verse Literature Festival in Liverpool.
Sarah Hall is being tipped as one of the most interesting up and coming novelists of her generation.
By the age of thirty-five she had already been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.
The chosen book in this month's programme is The Carhullan Army, her tale about a flooded post-apocalyptic Britain, and how a group of women are living on the outside of a harsh new regime.
Sarah Hall is preoccupied by the recent crises of the damaging floods of Cumbrian towns and she'll be talking about how she's used these events in her writing - and how her native landscape inspires her.
January's Bookclub title:
The Mighty Walzer by Howard Jacobson
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Howard Jacobson20110102 James Naughtie and readers talk to this year's Man Booker prize winner - Howard Jacobson.
The chosen book for this edition of Bookclub is the one he says he wants people to read : The Mighty Walzer, first published in 1999.
Peculiarly, it is a comic novel about the joy and despair of table tennis.
It's also a portrait of a Jewish boyhood in Manchester, showing how the main character - Oliver Walzer - comes to terms with the demands of puberty and his sporting genius; as well as the attentions of his mother, grandmother and assorted aunties.
Back in the 1950s Jacobson, like his alter-ego Oliver Walzer, was one of the top 10 junior table tennis players in the country.
This is a heavily autobiographical novel from a writer who's has been called 'the master of confessional humour'.
As always on Bookclub, a group of readers join the author in the discussion and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
February's Bookclub choice : 'Blood River' by Tim Butcher.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Howard Jacobson about his comic novel The Mighty Walzer.
Howard Jacobson20110106 James Naughtie talks to Howard Jacobson about his comic novel The Mighty Walzer.
Tim Butcher20110206 James Naughtie and readers talk to journalist Tim Butcher about his bestselling travel book Blood River.
When Tim Butcher was appointed the Daily Telegraph's correspondent to South Africa in 2003, he became obsessed with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This vast country dominated a map of Africa on his office wall and he began to plan a journey following in the footsteps of a famous predecessor - Henry Stanley.
Stanley, of Dr Livingstone renown, had travelled along the route of the River Congo whilst Africa correspondent for the same newspaper in 1870.
Tim Butcher says in Bookclub that he lost all rationality - people who knew the country well told him his proposed trip was suicidal.
The DR Congo stretches the same distance as Paris to Moscow and is one of Africa's most dangerous countries.
Although it has immense economic resources, the DR Congo has been at the centre of what could be termed Africa's world war, and this left it in the grip of a humanitarian crisis.
Part adventure story, part travelogue and part history, Blood River tells the account of Tim's own journey along the river in 2004.
We hear about the hardships and generosity of the people he met, as well as the fear and the practical difficulties of travelling in a country that has been ravaged by war and neglected for so long.
A group of readers quiz Tim about his experience, and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
March's Bookclub title:
Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Tim Butcher about his bestselling book Blood River.
Tim Butcher20110210 
James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to journalist Tim Butcher about his bestselling travel book Blood River.
When Tim Butcher was appointed the Daily Telegraph's correspondent to South Africa in 2000, he became obsessed with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This vast country dominated a map of Africa on his office wall and he began to plan a journey following in the footsteps of a famous predecessor - Henry Stanley.
Stanley, of Dr Livingstone renown, had travelled along the route of the River Congo in 1876-77 whilst Africa correspondent for the same newspaper.
Tim Butcher says in Bookclub that he lost all rationality - people who knew the country well told him his proposed trip was suicidal.
The DR Congo stretches the same distance as Paris to Moscow and is one of Africa's most dangerous countries.
Although it has immense economic resources, the DR Congo has been at the centre of what could be termed Africa's world war, and this has left it in the grip of a humanitarian crisis.
Part adventure story, part travelogue and part history, Blood River tells the account of Tim's own journey along the river in 2004.
We hear about the hardships and generosity of the people he met, as well as the fear and the practical difficulties of travelling in a country that has been ravaged by war and neglected for so long.
A group of readers quiz Tim about his experience, and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
March's Bookclub title:
Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
Producer: Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Tim Butcher about his bestselling book Blood River.
Benjamin Zephaniah20110306 James Naughtie and readers talk to Benjamin Zephaniah, the poet and novelist who's equally popular with both adults and children.
Our chosen novel is Refugee Boy, written for young adults.
Benjamin is perhaps best known for his performance poetry with a political edge, but he has also written novels for young people.
Benjamin is interested in international affairs and travels extensively throughout the developing world.
He has visited refugee camps in places like Gaza and Montenegro and in Refugee Boy he borrows from many of the stories he heard, to create a tale that many refugees would recognise.
Refugee Boy is the story of Alem, whose mother is Eritrean and father Ethiopian.
With both countries at war, his family are neither safe nor wanted in either country.
Alem's father brings him to the UK for a better life.
Benjamin has said it's hard being a writer who's labelled as 'political' - because he's first and foremost interested in people, not politics.
This edition of Bookclub features a group of young adults as well as older readers from the University of the 3rd age, and is chaired by James Naughtie.
April's Bookclub choice : 'The Gingerbread Woman' by Jennifer Johnston.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Benjamin Zephaniah about his novel for young adults, Refugee Boy.
Benjamin Zephaniah20110310 
James Naughtie and readers talk to Benjamin Zephaniah, the poet and novelist who's equally popular with both adults and children.
Our chosen novel is Refugee Boy, written for young adults.
Benjamin is perhaps best known for his performance poetry with a political edge, but he has also written novels for young people.
Benjamin is interested in international affairs and travels extensively throughout the developing world.
He has visited refugee camps in places like Gaza and Montenegro and in Refugee Boy he borrows from many of the stories he heard, to create a tale that many refugees would recognise.
Refugee Boy is the story of Alem, whose mother is Eritrean and father Ethiopian.
With both countries at war, his family are neither safe nor wanted in either country.
Alem's father brings him to the UK for a better life.
Benjamin has said it's hard being a writer who's labelled as 'political' - because he's first and foremost interested in people, not politics.
This edition of Bookclub features a group of young adults as well as older readers from the University of the 3rd age, and is chaired by James Naughtie.
April's Bookclub choice : 'The Gingerbread Woman' by Jennifer Johnston.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Benjamin Zephaniah about his novel for young adults Refugee Boy.
Jennifer Johnston20110403 
Recorded in Londonderry/City of Derry, James Naughtie and readers talk to one of Ireland's finest writers - Jennifer Johnston.
Now in her eighties, Jennifer has been called 'The Quiet Woman' of Irish literature.
Her distinguished career has spanned more than 40 years and has netted the Whitbread Prize among her many awards.
Her books are taught on the Irish school curriculum and in American Universities.
The chosen novel for this edition of Bookclub is one of her later ones, The Gingerbread Woman.
Like many of her novels, this story deals with personal conflict, as two characters meet by chance one day on a cliff top overlooking Dublin Bay and form an uneasy friendship.
Yet the conflict between these two mirrors a bigger question - the conflict between the North and South of Ireland.
Jennifer Johnston is a writer who watches and listens.
She's best known for her portrayal of different Irelands, notably that group called the Anglo-Irish, who appear in what became known as The Big House novels.
More recently she has moved her protagonists out of the countryside and into the affluent suburbs.
Jennifer grew up in a theatrical house - her father Denis was the leading playwright of his day and her mother Shelah an actress.
Jennifer will be talking about how words were important to her from an early age as she heard her mother learning her lines, and how her upbringing has resonated through her writing, especially in terms of the realistic dialogue.
As always on Bookclub, a group of readers join the author in the discussion and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
May's Bookclub choice : 'Be Near Me' by Andrew O'Hagan.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Jennifer Johnston about her novel The Gingerbread Woman.
Jennifer Johnston20110407 
Recorded at the Verbal Arts Centre in Londonderry/City of Derry, James Naughtie and readers talk to one of Ireland's finest writers - Jennifer Johnston.
Now in her eighties, Jennifer has been called 'The Quiet Woman' of Irish literature.
Her distinguished career has spanned more than 40 years and has netted the Whitbread Prize among her many awards.
Her books are taught on the Irish school curriculum and in American Universities.
The chosen novel for this edition of Bookclub is one of her later ones, The Gingerbread Woman.
Like many of her novels, this story deals with personal conflict, as two characters meet by chance one day on a cliff top overlooking Dublin Bay and form an uneasy friendship.
Yet the conflict between these two mirrors a bigger question - the conflict between the North and South of Ireland.
Jennifer Johnston is a writer who watches and listens.
She's best known for her portrayal of different Irelands, notably the group called the Anglo-Irish, who appear in what became known as The Big House novels.
More recently she has moved her protagonists out of the countryside and into the affluent suburbs.
Jennifer grew up in a theatrical house - her father Denis was the leading playwright of his day and her mother Shelah an actress.
Jennifer describes how her literary upbringing has resonated through her writing, and how much she enjoys writing dialogue.
As always on Bookclub, a group of readers join the author in the discussion and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
May's Bookclub choice : 'Be Near Me' by Andrew O'Hagan.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to Jennifer Johnston about her novel The Gingerbread Woman.
Andrew O'hagan - Be Near Me20110501 Andrew O'Hagan is a rising star in the literary world.
He joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss his novel Be Near Me, the story of Father David, an aesthetic English Catholic priest working in a working class community in Ayrshire.
This is a poignant story of a man who doesn't fit in.
Father David is trapped by class hatreds, and troubled by sexual feelings which he struggles to keep submerged.
He's a character who's almost intent on self destruction, and as the reader follows his story, we can't help but think it's going to end in tragedy.
Andrew O'Hagan talks about the challenges of writing such a story in the first person, how inevitably people think it's about himself - and how by creating a protagonist whose side of the story is not quite reliable leads to intrigue in the mind of the reader.
Andrew has drawn on the community where he himself grew up - a community ridden by class and religious divide.
One of the novel's strongest characters is Father David's housekeeper Mrs Poole who was based on Andrew's mother and colleagues.
His mother was a school cleaner and as a child Andrew spent some of his school holidays watching and listening to their conversations as they went about the 'big clean' - preparing the school for the new academic year.
The starting point for the book was when Andrew happened to be in a café in Paris and noticed a Catholic priest drinking coffee alone in the corner.
Andrew watched as a tear fell down the priest's cheek, and immediately began to wonder what his story was and went home to write it.
As always on Bookclub, a group of readers join the author in the discussion and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
June's Bookclub choice : 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Andrew O'Hagan meets James Naughtie and readers to discuss his novel Be Near Me.
Andrew O'hagan - Be Near Me20110505 Andrew O'Hagan is a rising star in the literary world.
He joins James Naughtie and readers to discuss his novel Be Near Me, the story of Father David, an aesthetic English Catholic priest working in a working class community in Ayrshire.
This is a poignant story of a man who doesn't fit in.
Father David is trapped by class hatreds, and troubled by sexual feelings which he struggles to keep submerged.
He's a character who's almost intent on self destruction, and as the reader follows his story, we can't help but think it's going to end in tragedy.
Andrew O'Hagan talks about the challenges of writing such a story in the first person, how inevitably people think it's about himself - and how by creating a protagonist whose side of the story is not quite reliable leads to intrigue in the mind of the reader.
Andrew has drawn on the community where he himself grew up - a community ridden by class and religious divide.
One of the novel's strongest characters is Father David's housekeeper Mrs Poole who was based on Andrew's mother and colleagues.
His mother was a school cleaner and as a child Andrew spent some of his school holidays watching and listening to their conversations as they went about the 'big clean' - preparing the school for the new academic year.
The starting point for the book was when Andrew happened to be in a café in Paris and noticed a Catholic priest drinking coffee alone in the corner.
Andrew watched as a tear fell down the priest's cheek, and immediately began to wonder what his story was and went home to write it.
As always on Bookclub, a group of readers join the author in the discussion and James Naughtie chairs the programme.
June's Bookclub choice : 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Andrew O'Hagan meets James Naughtie and readers to discuss his novel Be Near Me.
Nicole Krauss - The History Of Love20110605 James Naughtie and readers talk to American writer Nicole Krauss, shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize.
Our chosen novel is her critically acclaimed The History of Love.
It's a complex tale of loss - a lost manuscript, lost homelands, characters grieving for lost loved ones.
There are four separate narrators who are all drawn to the lost book - also called The History of Love.
Leo Gursky is at the end of his life, tapping his radiator each evening to let his neighbour know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the local coffee bar.
He doesn't want to die on a day when no-one has seen him.
As a young man Leo wrote The History of Love in pre-war Poland.
Although he doesn't know it, the book also survived, crossing oceans and generations and changing lives.
Fourteen-year-old Alama was named after a character in that book, and lives across New York City from Leo.
She and her little brother, who thinks he is the Messiah, are recovering from the loss of their father.
The starting point for writing the novel was the story of her grandmother, who came to England as a chaperone on the Kindertransport, and lost all her family in the Holocaust.
She had fallen in love with a young doctor, whom she had also presumed dead.
Forty years later, he wrote to her grandmother from South America.
Nicole's History of Love is like a jigsaw, where all the pieces come together at the end - and she talks about how she has no preconceived idea about where the story will end as she begins.
Nicole likens it to being a traveller in a foreign city, walking from street to street, finding her way.
July's Bookclub choice : 'The Music Room' by William Fiennes.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Nicole Krauss talks to James Naughtie and readers about her novel The History of Love.
Nicole Krauss - The History Of Love20110609 James Naughtie and readers talk to American writer Nicole Krauss, shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize.
Our chosen novel is her critically acclaimed The History of Love.
It's a complex tale of loss - a lost manuscript, lost homelands, characters grieving for lost loved ones.
There are four separate narrators who are all drawn to the lost book - also called The History of Love.
Leo Gursky is at the end of his life, tapping his radiator each evening to let his neighbour know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the local coffee bar.
He doesn't want to die on a day when no-one has seen him.
As a young man Leo wrote The History of Love in pre-war Poland.
Although he doesn't know it, the book also survived, crossing oceans and generations and changing lives.
Fourteen-year-old Alama was named after a character in that book, and lives across New York City from Leo.
She and her little brother, who thinks he is the Messiah, are recovering from the loss of their father.
The starting point for writing the novel was the story of her grandmother, who came to England as a chaperone on the Kindertransport, and lost all her family in the Holocaust.
She had fallen in love with a young doctor, whom she had also presumed dead.
Forty years later, he wrote to her grandmother from South America.
Nicole's History of Love is like a jigsaw, where all the pieces come together at the end - and she talks about how she has no preconceived idea about where the story will end as she begins.
Nicole likens it to being a traveller in a foreign city, walking from street to street, finding her way.
July's Bookclub choice : 'The Music Room' by William Fiennes.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Nicole Krauss talks to James Naughtie and readers about her novel The History of Love.
William Fiennes - The Music Room20110703 James Naughtie and readers talk to William Fiennes about his memoir The Music Room.
The book is his account of growing up in a castle with an epileptic brother.
It's an honest yet discrete story of a fascinating family and how they deal with the eldest brother's struggle with epilepsy.
In his upbeat moments, Richard brims with tenderness and high spirits, and at his worst he is threatening and even violent.
Richard dies of a seizure at forty-one; his life defined by damage done to his brain by his epilepsy.
The book is potted with medical histories of epilepsy alongside anecdotes about the film crews, country fairs and conventions that dominated daily life for Fiennes' family in the castle.
Twelve thousand visitors passed through the castle every year - giving, he says, new meaning to the phrase 'tidy your room.
But the book is also a testament of a family's love for their ill and sometimes difficult son.
William talks about his family story and the result is an unforgettable picture of the disordered world that he experiences through his brother, set in an ancient house where the music room of the title is the place where he sought refuge and enjoyed playing as a child.
August's Bookclub choice: 'Death at La Fenice' by Donna Leon.
Producer: Dymphna Flynn.
William Fiennes talks to James Naughtie and readers about his memoir The Music Room.
William Fiennes - The Music Room20110707 James Naughtie and readers talk to William Fiennes about his memoir The Music Room.
The book is his account of growing up in a castle with an epileptic brother.
It's an honest yet discreet story of a fascinating family and how they deal with the eldest brother's struggle with epilepsy.
In his upbeat moments, Richard brims with tenderness and high spirits, and at his worst he is threatening and even violent.
Richard dies of a seizure at forty-one; his life defined by damage done to his brain by his epilepsy.
The book is potted with medical histories of epilepsy alongside anecdotes about the film crews, country fairs and conventions that dominated daily life for Fiennes' family in the castle.
But it's also a testament of a family's love for their ill and sometimes difficult son.
William talks about his family story and the result is an unforgettable picture of the disordered world that he experiences through his brother, set in an ancient house where the music room of the title is the place where he sought refuge and enjoyed playing as a child.
August's Bookclub choice: 'Death at La Fenice' by Donna Leon.
Producer: Dymphna Flynn.
William Fiennes talks to James Naughtie and readers about his memoir The Music Room.
Donna Leon - Death At La Fenice20110807 Donna Leon talks to James Naughtie and a group of readers about the first in her hugely successful crime series set in Venice, Death At La Fenice.
The book launched the career of her fictional detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti in the early 1990s, and he is now beloved by readers.
Like an Italian Maigret, he's a policeman of integrity.
Brunetti also has a fulfilled family life with his intellectual and feminist wife Carla, and their two children, who are trapped in an eternal adolescence as the Brunetti series progresses and the years pass by.
The portrait of the family, along with the subtle and vivid picture of Venice, and the enticing descriptions of what Venetians eat, is at the heart of Leon's books, giving a warmth that balances out the darkness of the crimes.
The books also give us an insight as to how Italy as a country works.
Donna Leon is an American who's lived in Venice for more than twenty years and she describes the corruption, inertia, nepotism and cynicism so sharply we can only think it's authentic.
Although the books are translated into twenty languages now, Italian is not one of them.
She tells James Naughtie and assembled readers it's because she wishes to remain anonymous in her adopted city.
September's Bookclub choice : 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' by Mohsin Hamid.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Donna Leon talks to James Naughtie about her first crime novel Death At La Fenice.
Donna Leon - Death At La Fenice20110811 Donna Leon talks to James Naughtie and a group of readers about the first in her hugely successful crime series set in Venice, Death At La Fenice.
The book launched the career of her fictional detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti in the early 1990s, and he is now beloved by readers.
Like an Italian Maigret, he's a policeman of integrity.
Brunetti also has a fulfilled family life with his intellectual and feminist wife Carla, and their two children, who are trapped in an eternal adolescence as the Brunetti series progresses and the years pass by.
The portrait of the family, along with the subtle and vivid picture of Venice, and the enticing descriptions of what Venetians eat, is at the heart of Leon's books, giving a warmth that balances out the darkness of the crimes.
The books also give us an insight as to how Italy as a country works.
Donna Leon is an American who's lived in Venice for more than twenty years and she describes the corruption, inertia, nepotism and cynicism so sharply we can only think it's authentic.
Although the books are translated into twenty languages now, Italian is not one of them.
She tells James Naughtie and assembled readers it's because she wishes to remain anonymous in her adopted city.
September's Bookclub choice : 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' by Mohsin Hamid.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Donna Leon talks to James Naughtie about her first crime novel Death At La Fenice.
Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist20110904 Mohsin Hamid talks to James Naughtie and readers about his bestselling book The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
This edition of Bookclub will be broadcast just two days after the novel has been featured as Radio 4's Book at Bedtime, and it's a timely choice as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a sparse, gripping, short novel that tackles the complex issues of Islamic fundamentalism and America's 'war on terror' with sympathy and balance.
It's the story of Changez, a high-flying young Pakistani man living in New York at the time of the attacks, whose life is turned around on that day, and who in the aftermath returns to his native Pakistan.
Changez tells his life story to an unnamed stranger, an American man, at a tea house in Lahore.
Readers may recognise the same device was used by Albert Camus in his novel The Fall - and Mohsin Hamid acknowledges the debt to the French novel.
As night falls, the tension grows between the Changez and the American and a sense of mystery and suspense grows page by page.
Who is this American? Is he a spy? Does he have a gun in his pocket, and what exactly has the 'reluctant fundamentalist' come to believe? This novel has one of the most ambiguous endings in contemporary fiction and readers will be telling Mohsin Hamid how they think it finishes.
October's Bookclub choice : 'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Mohsin Hamid talks to James Naughtie about The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist20110908 Mohsin Hamid talks to James Naughtie about The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Arundhati Roy - The God Of Small Things20111002 Arundhati Roy talks to James Naughtie and readers about her Booker prize winning novel The God of Small Things.
It's Arundhati Roy's first and so far only book of fiction and it took the literary world by storm, winning the Booker Prize in 1997.
It's a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who must be loved, and how, and how much".
The book is a description of how the small things in life affect people's behaviour and their lives, and with a love affair between characters of different backgrounds, shows how cruel the caste system could be.
Arundhati Roy talks about why she's never written fiction since, and how she's not ruling out a return to the genre.
She describes how her training as an architect was useful in the planning of this multi-layered story, with its complex time frames which owe a debt to James Joyce's Ulysses.
November's Bookclub choice : The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Arundhati Roy talks about her Booker prize winning novel The God of Small Things.
Arundhati Roy - The God Of Small Things20111006 Arundhati Roy talks to James Naughtie and readers about her Booker prize winning novel The God of Small Things.
It's Arundhati Roy's first and so far only book of fiction and it took the literary world by storm, winning the Booker Prize in 1997.
It's a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who must be loved, and how, and how much".
The book is a description of how the small things in life affect people's behaviour and their lives, and with a love affair between characters of different backgrounds, shows how cruel the caste system could be.
Arundhati Roy talks about why she's never written fiction since, and how she's not ruling out a return to the genre.
She describes how her training as an architect was useful in the planning of this multi-layered story, with its complex time frames which owe a debt to James Joyce's Ulysses.
November's Bookclub choice : The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Arundhati Roy talks about her Booker prize winning novel The God of Small Things.
Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory20111106 Iain Banks meets James Naughtie and readers at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh to talk about his debut novel The Wasp Factory, first published in 1984.
This shocking novel is an insight into the life of sixteen year old Frank, a brutal and disturbed teenager who enjoys killing animal and insects all too much. But Frank isn't alone in his madness - his brother Eric has just escaped from an asylum, and is gradually making his way back home to the remote island house Frank shares with his father Angus.
Banks' major achievement is to make the reader feel sorry for this character of Frank and as one audience member acknowledges, to make us laugh.
Iain talks about how he drew on his own childhood experiences of dam-building, kite-making and experimenting with explosives to create the character of Frank - but that is where the similarities end. Iain's own boyhood was a happy one, it was purely his desire to shock as an emerging author that led him to Frank. He says he identifies with none of the characters in the story and describes his writing in the Wasp Factory as 'exaggeration'.
Readers who know the Wasp Factory will remember its startling ending, where it is disclosed that Frank is not all he seems, and Iain reveals how this part of the story came to him.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
December's Bookclub choice : The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.
Iain Banks talks about his first novel The Wasp Factory.
Iain Banks - The Wasp Factory20111110 Iain Banks talks about his first novel The Wasp Factory.
Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture20111204 December's Bookclub author is Sebastian Barry.
Well known as a successful dramatist and novelist, his literary career became stellar when he won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year Award with this month's chosen book, The Secret Scripture; and he is considered one of Ireland's greatest living writers.
The novel is told by Roseanne, who is uncertain of her age; she thinks she is now one hundred.
She's been incarcerated in asylums in Ireland for over sixty years, and is writing the story of her life, on pieces of paper that she hides under the floor boards of her room.
This is the Secret Scripture of the title; which comes from a poem by an Irish nationalist poet, Thomas Kettle, who fought for the British in World War I.
As the book unfolds, we discover the why and the how of her incarceration.
The second narrator of the novel is Roseanne's psychiatrist Dr William Grene, who must judge whether Roseanne can be released into society as the hospital is about to close.
As he comes to know her, he becomes fascinated by her and the history - which is the history of twentieth century Ireland - that she represents.
Sebastian Barry tells readers how he uses his own family in his fiction and how the character of Roseanne came from hearing about a great aunt who had been shunned by the rest of the family - the only thing known about her was her great beauty.
His was a family beset with secrets, and his mother, Joan O'Hara (a famous actress of her day), was a "consummate un-coverer of secrets".
January's Bookclub choice : 'The Beatles' by Hunter Davies.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Sebastian Barry talks about his Costa prize-winning novel The Secret Scripture.
Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture20111208 Sebastian Barry talks about his Costa prize-winning novel The Secret Scripture.
Hunter Davies On The Beatles20120101 Hunter Davies talks to James Naughtie and readers about his biography of The Beatles, first published in 1968. Recorded at the Cavern, Liverpool.
In 1966-68 Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers. As their only ever authorised biographer he had unparalleled access - not just to John, Paul, George and Ringo but to their friends, family and colleagues.
He hung out in Abbey Road studios whilst they recorded Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. At the end of sessions the Beatles happily let him pick up scraps of paper with half written lyrics on them, before the cleaners could tidy up. In the early 1980s he realised they were worth more than his house, and he gave them to the nation; the lyrics to Yesterday he saved now sit alongside the Magna Carta in the British Library.
All four Beatles were committed to the book, and Hunter was able to spend time with their families, John's Aunt Mimi, and Ringo's mother and stepfather as they settled into their swanky new bungalows far from the screaming fans in Liverpool. He even found John Lennon's estranged father, Freddie Lennon, who was washing dishes in a hotel not far from John's new home in Surrey - and Hunter introduced John to him after many years.
Looking back at the book some forty years later, Hunter regrets not writing more about witnessing the Lennon and McCartney song writing process; he saw the genesis of songs like Getting Better and Across the Universe.
And although the book was first written and published before the group's acrimonious split, Hunter says that George was already fed up of being a Beatle, and John was listless and bored.
Bookclub with Hunter Davies is a fascinating account of the heady days of the Beatles' success. At the time he thought the bubble would burst and that they would be replaced in people's affections - though not his own.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
February's Bookclub : Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Hunter Davies discusses his authorised biography of The Beatles, recorded at the Cavern.
Hunter Davies On The Beatles20120105 Hunter Davies talks to James Naughtie and readers about his biography of The Beatles, first published in 1968. Recorded at the Cavern, Liverpool.
In 1966-68 Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers. As their only ever authorised biographer he had unparalleled access - not just to John, Paul, George and Ringo but to their friends, family and colleagues.
He hung out in Abbey Road studios whilst they recorded Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. At the end of sessions the Beatles happily let him pick up scraps of paper with half written lyrics on them, before the cleaners could tidy up. In the early 1980s he realised they were worth more than his house, and he gave them to the nation; the lyrics to Yesterday he saved now sit alongside the Magna Carta in the British Library.
All four Beatles were committed to the book, and Hunter was able to spend time with their families, John's Aunt Mimi, and Ringo's mother and stepfather as they settled into their swanky new bungalows far from the screaming fans in Liverpool. He even found John Lennon's estranged father, Freddie Lennon, who was washing dishes in a hotel not far from John's new home in Surrey - and Hunter introduced John to him after many years.
Looking back at the book some forty years later, Hunter regrets not writing more about witnessing the Lennon and McCartney song writing process; he saw the genesis of songs like Getting Better and Across the Universe.
And although the book was first written and published before the group's acrimonious split, Hunter says that George was already fed up of being a Beatle, and John was listless and bored.
Bookclub with Hunter Davies is a fascinating account of the heady days of the Beatles' success. At the time he thought the bubble would burst and that they would be replaced in people's affections - though not his own.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
February's Bookclub : Maus by Art Spiegelman.
Hunter Davies discusses his authorised biography of The Beatles, recorded at the Cavern.
Art Spiegelman - Maus20120205 James Naughtie and readers talk to the American writer and artist Art Spiegelman about his graphic novel Maus.
First published in short frames in his experimental comic RAW in the 1970s, Maus the book has become a publishing phenomenon, selling over two million copies world wide.
It tells the story of his parents, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, from their first meeting in pre-war Poland to their survival of the death camps at Auschwitz and Dachau and their move to New York after the war.
Part of the success of the book is Art's portrayal of the characters as animals. The Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs and the Americans dogs. The mouse metaphor, he says, came naturally to him as a comic book writer. He wanted to keep the scale of the book small, and with Maus, all he wanted to do was tell a story, he never wanted to change the world, he's too pessimistic for that.
The story follows the birth of his elder brother Richieu, who was poisoned by an aunt rather than face capture; how his parents were hidden by generous Poles, and then betrayed to the SS as they paid to be smuggled over the border to safer Hungary.
As well as the force of this story, Art Spiegelman talks about the powerful subplot which shows the difficult relationship between father and son, and what it could be like for the child of Holocaust survivors. In Maus, Art refuses to sentimentalise or sanctify his father the survivor; and in the same way his self-portrait is unflinching in its honesty.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
March's Bookclub choice : The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
Art Spiegelman talks to James Naughtie and readers about his graphic novel Maus.
Art Spiegelman - Maus20120209 James Naughtie and readers talk to the American writer and artist Art Spiegelman about his graphic novel Maus.
First published in short frames in his experimental comic RAW in the 1970s, Maus the book has become a publishing phenomenon, selling over two million copies world wide.
It tells the story of his parents, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, from their first meeting in pre-war Poland to their survival of the death camps at Auschwitz and Dachau and their move to New York after the war.
Part of the success of the book is Art's portrayal of the characters as animals. The Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs and the Americans dogs. The mouse metaphor, he says, came naturally to him as a comic book writer. He wanted to keep the scale of the book small, and with Maus, all he wanted to do was tell a story, he never wanted to change the world, he's too pessimistic for that.
The story follows the birth of his elder brother Richieu, who was poisoned by an aunt rather than face capture; how his parents were hidden by generous Poles, and then betrayed to the SS as they paid to be smuggled over the border to safer Hungary.
As well as the force of this story, Art Spiegelman talks about the powerful subplot which shows the difficult relationship between father and son, and what it could be like for the child of Holocaust survivors. In Maus, Art refuses to sentimentalise or sanctify his father the survivor; and in the same way his self-portrait is unflinching in its honesty.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
March's Bookclub choice : The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
Art Spiegelman talks to James Naughtie and readers about his graphic novel Maus.
Alan Hollinghurst - The Line Of Beauty20120304 Alan Hollinghurst talks to James Naughtie and readers about his 2004 Man Booker prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty.
Framed by the general elections of 1983 and 1987 which returned Margaret Thatcher to power, The Line of Beauty is a story of love, class, sex and money - and Aids. It won praise for the way it crawls deep under the skin of 1980's Britain.
Protagonist Nick Guest is a young, gay Oxford graduate of modest means who is invited to say with the wealthy Fedden family at their Notting Hill home. The father Gerald is a conservative MP consumed by by his rising status within the party; his wife Rachel is from the landed gentry - and therefore old money; daughter Catherine is a manic depressive, whilst Nick has had a crush on the son Toby since their time together at University.
However, there is far more to this book than mere social satire.
"It's about someone who loves things more than people. And who ends up with nothing, of course. I know it's bleak, but then I think it's probably a very bleak book, even though it's essentially a comedy."
This is Nick speaking about Henry James' book The Spoils of Poynton, which he has been turning into a (doomed, of course) film script. However, in a typical instance of Hollinghurst's sharp irony, both the reader and Nick himself realise just as he speaks these words that he might as well be discussing his own narrative in The Line of Beauty.
April's Bookclub choice : The Gathering by Anne Enright
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Alan Hollinghurst talks about his Man Booker prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty.
Alan Hollinghurst - The Line Of Beauty20120308 Alan Hollinghurst talks to James Naughtie and readers about his 2004 Man Booker prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty.
Framed by the general elections of 1983 and 1987 which returned Margaret Thatcher to power, The Line of Beauty is a story of love, class, sex and money - and AIDs. It won praise for the way it crawls deep under the skin of 1980's Britain.
Protagonist Nick Guest is a young, gay Oxford graduate of modest means who is invited to stay with the wealthy Fedden family at their Notting Hill home. The father Gerald is a conservative MP consumed by by his rising status within the party; his wife Rachel is from the landed gentry - and therefore old money; daughter Catherine is a manic depressive, whilst Nick has had a crush on the son Toby since their time together at University.
However, there is far more to this book than mere social satire.
"It's about someone who loves things more than people. And who ends up with nothing, of course. I know it's bleak, but then I think it's probably a very bleak book, even though it's essentially a comedy."
This is Nick speaking about Henry James' book The Spoils of Poynton, which he has been turning into a (doomed, of course) film script. However, in a typical instance of Hollinghurst's sharp irony, both the reader and Nick himself realise just as he speaks these words that he might as well be discussing his own narrative in The Line of Beauty.
April's Bookclub choice : Anne Enright's The Gathering
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Alan Hollinghurst talks about his Man Booker prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty.
Anne Enright - The Gathering20120401 Anne Enright talks to James Naughtie and readers about her 2007 Man Booker prize-winning novel The Gathering.
The book was the surprise win of that year - beating Ian Mcewan's On Chesil Beach. Chair of Judges Howard Davies proclaimed the novel had one of the best closing sentences of any he had ever read.
The Gathering of the title is the wake of Liam Hegarty who has committed suicide by walking into the sea at Brighton. His sister Veronica, one of the remaining nine siblings, narrates. In an exploration of uncertainty and recollection, she imagines the lives and thoughts of her grandparents' generation, and the hazy memories from her own childhood. And as family gather for the funeral, this big, brawling Irish family's history begins to spill out and show its cracks.
Anne will be talking to her readers about the darkness in the novel, but also about how the Gathering provides the consolation of humour even in the grimmest situations - such as the scene where the family guard Liam's open coffin in Dublin.
May's Bookclub choice : God's Own Country by Ross Raisin
Up coming recordings -
ELIZABETH TAYLOR - MRS PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT
DAVID BADDIEL WILL BE OUR GUIDE TO THIS NOVEL
Monday 28 May 5.40pm
BBC Bush House
Aldwych
London WC2 4PH
To apply for tickets, go to the BBC Radio 4 website and follow the links to Bookclub
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Anne Enright talks about her Man Booker prize-winning novel The Gathering.
Anne Enright - The Gathering20120405 Anne Enright talks about her Man Booker prize-winning novel The Gathering.
Ross Raisin - God's Own Country2012050620120510Ross Raisin and James Naughtie discuss Ross' debut novel - God's Own Country.
Ross Raisin is a young writer who won much praise for his debut novel God's Own Country in 2008. He discusses the book with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
It's the story of Sam Marsdyke who's a troubled nineteen year old young man living on a remote farm in the North Yorkshire Moors. It's a place of beauty and Sam resents the incomers, be they the ramblers he spies upon, or the new neighbours who've just moved up from London.
Sam is one of contemporary fiction's unforgettable characters; thanks largely to his use of the local dialect - words like beltenger, raggald or snitter. But these words don't get in the way of the reading, and part of the success of Sam's language is its confirmation of his isolation.
There's an ambiguity for the reader about whether Sam's early mishaps in the novel are intentional, such as the neighbour's boy getting food poisoning from Sam's welcoming gift of hand picked mushrooms. But Ross Raisin says that for him, as Sam's creator, there's no ambiguity.
Later in the novel, Sam's demise is swift, dark and frightening; and it's Ross's achievement that the reader still feels sympathy for him.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
June's Bookclub choice : The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.
Philippa Gregory: The Other Boleyn Girl2012060320120603 (R4)Philippa Gregory, queen of historical fiction, talks about her best-selling tale of lust, jealousy and betrayal, The Other Boleyn Girl. James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
The novel charts the lives of Anne Boleyn, and her sister Mary, thought to be the mistress of Henry VIII before Anne.
Each in their turn are "the other Boleyn Girl", pawns of their fiercely ambitious, conniving family who in the novel use the girls to advance their own positions at the court of Henry VIII.
Philippa Gregory will be talking about her fascination with Anne Boleyn's lesser known sister and about the lines between working with fact and fiction; and how she drew on her research to create the claustrophobic detail of palace life in Tudor England.
Philippa Gregory depicts Mary, aged just 13, as little more than a child when she is presented to Henry and ordered by her family to serve her King and country by becoming his mistress.
Inevitably though, the King's eyes soon begin to wander and Mary is overlooked, helpless to do anything but aid her family's plot to advance their fortunes, replace her with Anne and give Henry the greatest gift of all: a son and heir.
July's Bookclub choice : Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
David Baddiel Talks About Elizabeth Taylor's Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont2012070120120705To celebrate the centenary of novelist Elizabeth Taylor, David Baddiel is our guide to her best known book, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont.
Like many writers, David Baddiel thinks that Elizabeth Taylor has been overlooked and is one of the finest writers of the middle of the twentieth century. He has called her 'the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike'.
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont was the last book to be published in her life time, and was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1971. It tells the story of Laura Palfrey, a widow who can no longer look after herself and moves into a private hotel in West London, where she will probably end her days. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who uses her life for his novel.
Radio 4 listeners, some new to Elizabeth Taylor, and others who've been reading her books for forty years, join in the discussion with David Baddiel, and the programme is presented by James Naughtie.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn
August's Bookclub choice : The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient2012080520120809Michael Ondaatje talks about his 1992 Booker prize-winning novel The English Patient.
Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje talks to James Naughtie and readers about his 1992 Booker prize-winning novel The English Patient.
The novel tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian villa as the Second World War ends. The exhausted nurse Hana, the maimed thief Caravaggio, the bomb disposal expert Kip who are each haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless burns victim who lies in an upstairs room.
As well as the mystery of the patient, the novel weaves two love stories - one from the past in pre-war Cairo, the other in the Italian villa.
Noted for his lyrical prose, Michael Ondaatje talks about his love of poetry, how the characters of Hana and Caravaggio haunted him so much from a previous novel - In the Skin of a Lion - that he brought them back to appear in The English Patient. He also describes his painstaking method of writing a novel - by longhand in notebooks.
September's Bookclub choice : The Island by Victoria Hislop
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Victoria Hislop - The Island2012090220120906Victoria Hislop talks to James Naughtie about her debut novel The Island.
Victoria Hislop talks to James Naughtie and readers about her debut novel The Island, a fictional account of a real life leper colony, the island of Spinalonga, just off the coast of Crete. First published in 2005, The Island has now sold over a million copies.
Victoria says that when she first went to Spinalonga, as a curious tourist, she had no idea that leprosy still even existed in the 20th century. She thought it had been wiped out hundreds of years ago. Even today, around 500 new cases are diagnosed every year in India and South America.
Before writing novels Victoria was a successful travel journalist. On that first visit, her initial idea had been to write a piece for one of the Sunday newspapers, but after fifteen minutes wandering around the abandoned village on the island, she decided to tell the story in fiction instead.
The resulting novel tells the story of a family beset by two cases of leprosy in the 1930s and 50s, before the cure was found. In the 1930s, Eleni, a school teacher in the village opposite the leper colony, catches the disease, probably from a pupil. As the pair are exiled to Spinalonga, we see how her husband and two daughters cope in her absence, one of whom will also succumb to the disease some fifteen years later.
Victoria explores the shame and stigma of the disease through these characters and their lives and love affairs in a family saga stretching to present day London.
October's Bookclub choice : Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Marilynne Robinson - Gilead2012100720121011American writer Marilynne Robinson talks to James Naughtie and readers about her novel Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
Marilynne Robinson enjoyed great success with her first novel, Housekeeping, when it was published in 1980. She reveals to Bookclub why there was a gap of twenty-four years before she was able to write Gilead, her second book; and how the voice of the narrator came to her when she found herself alone in a hotel one Christmas.
Gilead is the autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly pastor in the small, secluded and fictional town of the same name, who knows he's dying of a heart condition.
Writing in the late 1950s, Ames tells his story in the form of a letter to his seven year old son, who will have few memories of him. And as well as revealing his fears about what will happen to his family when he's gone, the account traces the family's history back to the time when the prairies around Kansas and Iowa were being settled, through the Civil War and up to the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.
The voice of John Ames captivates the Bookclub audience, and Marilynne discusses his life and work with themes relevant to her own - solitude and religious contemplation.
November's Bookclub choice : Skellig by David Almond
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
David Almond - Skellig2012110420121108David Almond talks about his prize winning novel, Skellig, which is loved by children and adults alike.
Skellig is the story of what happens when a Newcastle boy finds a strange man living in the garage of his new home.
Michael sets out to help the ill Skellig recover. With him is his new unconventional friend Mina, who David Almond says is the star of the book. She introduces Michael to the worlds of nature and evolution, and to William Blake's poetry, his drawings of angels, his views on education. David says that when Mina walked into the book she brought Blake with her.
David Almond's story centres on the imaginations of children - is Skellig an Angel, or perhaps a man evolving into a bird? In the programme, David refuses to confirm either, saying that to him, Skellig is as much of a mystery as he is to the reader.
Recorded at the Lit and Phil Library in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. James Naughtie presents.
December's Bookclub choice : The Boy with the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
James Naughtie talks to David Almond about his children's novel Skellig.
Sathnam Sanghera - The Boy With The Topknot2012120220121206Sathnam Sanghera discusses his memoir The Boy With The Topknot, which won the 2009 Mind Book of the Year.
Born to Punjabi parents in the West Midlands, the book is his account of his childhood in 1980s Wolverhampton.
The youngest of a Sikh family, it wasn't until he was 24 that he discovered his mother had protected him from the family's secret : that his father had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia all his life.
Subtitled "A memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton", writing the book was Sathnam Sanghera's way of confronting his mother with some uncomfortable truths; that after his grammar school and Cambridge education, he had moved away from the family's culture and religion and was not going to accept an arranged marriage. This was a journey of discovery and independence for Sathnam that began on the day he went to the barbers on his own, and had his joori - his Sikh topknot - cut off. When the barber asked him if his dad knew he was doing this, he thought, 'it's my mum you should be worrying about'.
The memoir is a meditation on mental illness as well as class and cultural differences, and in Bookclub Sathnam ponders on whether it was a young man's folly to 'share too much information' by writing down his life story.
James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
January's Bookclub choice is Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Ben Macintyre - Agent Zigzag2013010620130110Ben Macintyre talks about his bestselling book Agent Zigzag, a true spy story from WWII.
Ben Macintyre discusses Agent Zigzag - his bestselling book on the true story of a professional criminal named Eddie Chapman, a successful British double agent who infiltrated the Nazi intelligence services during World War II.
A notorious safe-breaker before the war, Chapman duped the Germans so successfully that he was awarded their highest decoration, the Iron Cross. He remains the only British citizen ever to win one.
His story is one of chance and charm. Recruited as a spy whilst serving time in a Jersey jail, Chapman persuaded his German spy-masters that he was serving the Third Reich, but when they parachuted him into Norfolk in 1944 he delivered himself immediately to MI5. Because of the advanced and highly secretive code breaking at Bletchley Park, MI5 were expecting this unknown spy, with his German name of Agent Fritz. Reflecting his ambivalent status, his new British handlers called him Agent Zigzag.
Ben Macintyre says that Chapman's missions of sabotage and feeding false messages back to Germany were instrumental in saving hundreds of lives, as well as averting the V1 bombers from St Paul's Cathedral.
James Naughtie presents and a group of Radio 4 listeners ask the questions.
February's Bookclub choice : Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia2013020320130207John Simpson and Hilary Spurling discuss George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.
John Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs Editor and writer Hilary Spurling discuss George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, as part of the Radio 4 Real Orwell Season.
Homage to Catalonia was first published in 1938 and is political journalist and novelist George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War. This pivotal time in his writing career led in later years to Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm.
James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
March's Bookclub choice : Pure by Andrew Miller
Produced by Dymphna Flynn.
Andrew Miller On His Costa Award-winning Novel Pure2013030320130307Andrew Miller discusses his novel Pure, winner of the 2011 Costa Prize. Set in pre-revolutionary Paris, the book is a gripping, earthy story about the clearing of a huge cemetery in the area now known as Les Halles.
When a young engineer Jean-Baptiste Baratte arrives in Paris from Normandy, he is charged with the huge task of destroying the church and cemetery of Les Innocents in 1785. He is surrounded by a fully fledged cast of characters : LeCoeur, his friend and former colleague from the mines near Belgium, his girlfriend, the prostitute Heloise, Armand, the church's organist and a revolutionary, and the fairytale like Jeanne. But just as significant to the novel's success are the ideas of the Enlightenment and Miller's subtle laying out the undercurrents of disquiet and unrest which would eventually lead to bloodshed and revolution.
James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
April's Bookclub choice : The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.
Produced by Dymphna Flynn.
Elif Shafak - The Forty Rules Of Love2013040720130411Elif Shafak discusses her bestselling novel The Forty Rules of Love.
Turkey's leading female novelist Elif Shafak discusses her novel The Forty Rules of Love.
The novel is about finding love and is written in two strands. One is the friendship between a whirling dervish and the Sufi poet Rumi in 13th century Anatolia; the other is about a mother in contemporary America who finds inspiration in the historical story to break away from an unhappy life.
Amazingly, Elif wrote the book in English, which she first learnt at the age of ten. She then worked with professional translators to write it again in Turkish.
Elif Shafak explains the importance of Sufi mysticism in the novel and in her life. She talks about the influence of her grandmother's superstitions, about the transformation of modern Turkey and how she was prosecuted - and acquitted - in 2006 for 'denigrating Turkish national identity' because of her writing.
First published in 2010, The Forty Rules of Love has now been translated into over 30 languages.
James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
May's Bookclub choice : Ice by Gillian Clarke
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Poet Gillian Clarke - Ice2013050520130509Gillian Clarke discusses her poetry collection Ice with James Naughtie and readers.
The National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke discusses her collection Ice which was shortlisted for last year's TS Eliot prize.
Inspired by the snowy winters of 2009 and 2010, the poems in Ice move through the seasons : from Gillian's experience of being snowed in to the sound of an icicle as it begins to melt. From the bluebells of Spring (inspired by a Renoir painting at the National Museum of Art in Cardiff) through to a hot summer's day and on to the harvest moons of autumn to New Year's Eve.
They also include Gillian's earliest childhood memories, such as the opening poem Polar, which recalls the toddler Gillian lying on a polar bear rug which her father bought in a junk shop; and memories of a more collective nature - mining disasters and ancient British mythology.
The land, language, history and myths of Wales are all present in these poems.
Gillian says a love of language and an inherent ability to articulate is something the Welsh are brought up with, learnt from the early days of attending Chapel; and she says that being National Poet of Wales is no different than getting up at a family occasion and giving a verse or two, a tradition which lies at the heart of her culture.
James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions. Recorded at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea.
June's Bookclub choice : Quarantine by Jim Crace.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Jim Crace - Quarantine2013060220130606Jim Crace discusses his novel Quarantine.
Jim Crace discusses his novel Quarantine. James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions.
Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife2013070720130711
20130711 (R4)
Audrey Niffenegger discusses her bestselling novel The Time Traveler's Wife with James Naughtie.
It's a romantic story about a man - Henry - with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage to Clare.
The book opens when they meet in a Chicago library, and they both understand that he is a time traveller. But Clare knows much more than this about him as he has not yet been to the times and places where they have met before, and she remembers him from when she was just six years old.
He falls in love with her, as she has already with him, but his continuing unavoidable absences time travelling - and then returning with increasing knowledge of their future - makes things ever more difficult for Clare.
Audrey Niffenegger explains how she created a set of rules for the book, such as there would be no sex between the couple before Clare reaches 18; and how Henry's disorder is genetic rather than magical, meaning that when he time travels he arrives naked and with no money or useful possessions.
She also talks about the morality of her tale - the consequences of Henry's criminal behaviour, and how she dealt with a male character who effectively moulds the character of Clare as she grows up.
Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House in London, Bookclub with Audrey Niffenegger includes questions from the studio audience.
August's Bookclub choice : Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Deborah Moggach - Tulip Fever2013080420130808Deborah Moggach talks about her bestselling novel Tulip Fever, a story of love, greed and betrayal in 17th Century Amsterdam.
Artist Jan van Loos falls for his married subject Sophia during 'tulipomania'. Prices for the recently introduced flower reached extraordinarily high levels - one bulb could fetch thousands of pounds - and then suddenly collapsed.
James Naughtie and a group of invited readers discuss the story and its resonance with 21st century boom and bust economies, as well as the paintings that inspired Deborah to write the novel.
September's Bookclub choice : Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Deborah Moggach discusses her novel Tulip Fever with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
Paul Theroux - Dark Star Safari2013090120130905Paul Theroux discusses his travel book Dark Star Safari with James Naughtie.
With James Naughtie. The celebrated travel writer Paul Theroux discusses Dark Star Safari. The book is his account of an overland journey from Cairo to Cape Town, which he made 35 years after first living as a volunteer teacher in Malawi in the early 60s.
In the programme he talks about the pleasures and hazards of travelling across countries that many consider no-go areas. He recalls the joy of wild camping by the little known pyramids of the Sudan, the peril of being shot at on the road, and how the continent has changed since he first knew it as a young man. He explains his theories on western aid, and how he manages the rigours of travelling. He says it's best to travel light and alone, with an open mind, a willingness to make friends - and to never forget a paperback.
October's Bookclub choice : Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
Producer Dymphna Flynn.
Hilary Mantel - Bring Up The Bodies2013100620131010Hilary Mantel discusses her second Man Booker Prize-winning novel Bring Up the Bodies.
With James Naughtie.
Hilary Mantel discusses Bring Up the Bodies, her 2nd Man Booker Prize winning novel.
England, 1535. A one-time mercenary, master-politician, lawyer and doting father, Thomas Cromwell has risen from commoner to become King Henry VIII's chief adviser. He learnt everything he knew from his mentor Cardinal Wolsey, whose place he has taken.
Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her path to Henry's side cleared by Cromwell. But Henry remains without a male heir, and the conflict with the Catholic Church has left England dangerously isolated as France and the Holy Roman Empire manoeuvre for position.
Mantel charts how the King begins to fall in love with the seemingly plain Jane Seymour at her family home of Wolf Hall; how Cromwell must negotiate an increasingly dangerous court as he charms, bullies and manipulates nobility, commoners and foreign powers alike to satisfy Henry, and advance his own ambitions.
Hilary Mantel is the first author to win two Man Booker Prizes with consecutive novels. She discusses Bring Up the Bodies with Jim and her readers at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival in Devon - and gives tantalising insights into the final part of the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which will be published in 2015.
November's Bookclub choice : Now All Roads Lead to France by Matthew Hollis.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Hilary Mantel discusses her Man Booker Prize-winning novel Bring Up the Bodies.
Hilary Mantel discusses her Man Booker Prize-winning novel Bring Up the Bodies with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
Matthew Hollis - Now All Roads Lead To France2013110320131107Matthew Hollis talks to James Naughtie about his biography of poet Edward Thomas.
With James Naughtie.
Matthew Hollis discusses his Costa winning biography of the poet Edward Thomas, Now All Roads Lead to France.
The book is an account of the final years of Thomas who died in action in the First World War in 1917.
Although an accomplished prose-writer and literary critic, Edward Thomas only began writing poetry in 1914, at the age of 36. Before then, Thomas had been tormented by what he regarded as the banality of his work, by his struggle with depression and by his marriage.
Inspired by his life-changing friendship with American poet Robert Frost, Thomas wrote poem after poem, and his emotional affliction began to lift.
The two friends began to formulate poetic ideas that would produce some of the most remarkable verse of the twentieth century. But the First World War put an ocean between them: Frost returned to the safety of New England, while Thomas stayed to fight.
Hollis is a poet himself and talks about the poetic life as well as the roads taken - and those not taken - that are at the heart of the book.
Producer Dymphna Flynn
December's Bookclub choice : Killing Floor by Lee Child.
Lee Child - Killing Floor2013120120131205With James Naughtie.
Lee Child discusses the first in his hugely successful Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor, and published in 1997. He's now gone on to write 18 books featuring his grizzled action hero, a former military policeman of no fixed abode.
Lee reflects on the genesis of Jack Reacher, who appeared when he decided to write fiction after being made redundant by Granada TV in 1995. Lee says that he and Jack were on a parallel journey in Killing Floor, as Jack has just left the military and is out in an unfamiliar world at the same time as Lee. As he looks back, he can see his own raw emotion in Jack, who in Killing Floor is a character full of fury. But by book seven, the frustration had abated and Jack's anger had calmed down.
The books have gone on to sell over 60 million copies worldwide.
As always on Bookclub, a group of invited readers join in the discussion.
January's Bookclub choice : The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Lee Child talks about Killing Floor, the first Jack Reacher book. With James Naughtie.
Lee Child talks about Killing Floor, the first in his series of novels starring action hero and investigator Jack Reacher. The books have now sold over 60 million copies worldwide.
January's Bookclub choice : The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
Donna Tartt - The Secret History2014010520140109With James Naughtie.
Donna Tartt discusses her cult debut novel The Secret History, first published in 1992.
"I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell."
In a rare visit to the UK, Donna Tartt discusses The Secret History, which she has described as a 'why dunnit'. It's a murder mystery about a group of classic students at a privileged New England college; but from page one she discloses that the friends have murdered one of their number, Bunny. A literary thriller with allusions to Euripides and Dostoevsky, The Secret History was an overnight sensation and has gripped readers for decades.
As always in Bookclub, a group of invited readers join in the discussion too.
February's Bookclub choice : The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner2014020220140206Khaled Hosseini talks about his global bestselling novel The Kite Runner.
With James Naughtie.
Khaled Hosseini talks about his global bestselling novel, The Kite Runner with a group of invited readers.
The book describes how the happiness of an afternoon's kite flying competition in late-1970s Kabul is broken when young Amir fails to help his best friend Hassan avoid a terrible incident. The effects on the duo's friendship are devastating. Over 20 years later, Amir returns to Afghanistan from America, determined to redeem himself.
Khaled Hosseini explains the unequal relationship between the two boys that lies at the heart of the novel, and how the reader has a sense of dread and impending catastrophe as the story develops. He says that although the West has a view of Afghanistan as a violent culture, he remembers that for most of the twentieth century, Afghanistan was a peaceful place, and that the West has exoticised Afghans as being 'warrior' like.
March's Bookclub choice : Disobedience (2006) by Naomi Alderman
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Disobedience - Naomi Alderman2014030220140306Naomi Alderman talks about her novel Disobedience. With James Naughtie.
With James Naughtie.
Naomi Alderman, listed as one of Granta's Best Young Novelists 2013, responds to readers' questions about her first novel Disobedience.
Alderman, herself a product of London's Jewish community, tells the story of Ronit, a young woman who's escaped her Orthodox upbringing for independence in New York. Ronit is forced to face her past when she returns home after her father, a pre-eminent Rabbi, dies. Disobedience won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers.
Producer: Dymphna Flynn
April's Bookclub choice : The Sea (2005) by John Banville 
John Banville - The Sea2014040620140410With James Naughtie. Celebrated Irish writer John Banville discusses his novel The Sea which won the Man Booker prize in 2005.
In The Sea, middle-aged art historian Max Morden loses his wife to cancer and is compelled to go back to the seaside resort where he spent childhood holidays. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time.
John Banville talks about the power of revisiting places from childhood, how he wanted to be a painter as a teenager but found he had no talent. He explains how he painstakingly writes his novels over many years, creating sentence after sentence, but in the end he always feels the book is an embarrassment and a failure, and that he must move on to the next novel.
May's Bookclub choice is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Christos Tsiolkas - The Slap20140504 With James Naughtie.
Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas responds to readers' questions about his award-winning debut The Slap.
The book generated considerable debate - should you slap a child who's misbehaving, but isn't yours? In this controversial novel Tsiolkas presents an apparently harmless domestic incident from eight very different perspectives and examines how its aftermath reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen.
He explains how he uses this one event to discuss the realities of contemporary Australian society - its materialism and racial prejudices, and how lives of the immigrants' children are so different from their parents'.
June's Bookclub choice is Room by Emma Donoghue
Produced by Dymphna Flynn.
Christos Tsiolkas - The Slap2014050420140508With James Naughtie.
Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas responds to readers' questions about his award-winning debut The Slap.
The book generated considerable debate - should you slap a child who's misbehaving, but isn't yours? In this controversial novel Tsiolkas presents an apparently harmless domestic incident from eight very different perspectives and examines how its aftermath reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen.
He explains how he uses this one event to discuss the realities of contemporary Australian society - its materialism and racial prejudices, and how lives of the immigrants' children are so different from their parents'.
June's Bookclub choice is Room by Emma Donoghue
Produced by Dymphna Flynn.
Emma Donoghue - Room2014060120140605Emma Donoghue talks to James Naughtie about her Man Booker shortlisted novel Room.
With James Naughtie. Emma Donoghue discusses her novel Room with an invited group of readers.
Donoghue, an Irish writer living in Canada, tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who has been imprisoned with his mother in a tiny room - 11 feet by 11 feet - for his whole life. Emma was inspired to write Room after reading about European kidnapping cases such as the Fritzls in Austria, and so Jack was born into captivity after his mother was taken by a stranger at the age of 19 and held prisoner in a converted garden shed.
Told in Jack's voice as he learns of a world outside his small prison, Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010. But Emma says that the premise of the novel is to explore the myths and realities of motherhood and parenting rather than focus on the crime of kidnapping - and one reader tells her how surprised she was find so much humour in the novel.
July's Bookclub choice : Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? By Lorrie Moore (1994).
Lorrie Moore - Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?2014070620140710Acclaimed US writer Lorrie Moore discusses her novel, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

With James Naughtie.
The celebrated American writer Lorrie Moore discusses her short novel Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? In the early nineties, Lorrie Moore was wandering through an art gallery when she came upon a painting with this same intriguing title, depicting two young girls looking at a pair of bandaged frogs. Lorrie Moore bought the painting, and borrowed its name and imagery for her second novel.
She says the book is not autobiographical except "in a spiritual way." Her intent was to examine the passion and purity of adolescence and the special quality of girls' friendships in those teenage years.
August's Bookclub choice : The Outcast by Sadie Jones (2008).
Sadie Jones - The Outcast20140803 With James Naughtie. Sadie Jones talks about her novel The Outcast which won the Costa First Novel award in 2008.

The book is about a boy called Lewis - his childhood and adolescence - as he grows up in the stultifying world of the home counties in the late forties and fifties. It's a tale of drunkenness, violence and a fair amount of sex, set amongst the well-brought-up professional classes. It is also a love story.

Sadie says : There's something fascinating about the 50s, the cataclysm of the war and the 60s. We all think about this explosion of freedom, but caught in between it was ten years of breath held and that fascinated me.

August's Bookclub : A Question of Loyalties by Allan Massie (1989)

Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed Guest : Sadie Jones
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Sadie Jones - The Outcast20140803  
Allan Massie - A Question Of Loyalties20140907 With James Naughtie. Recorded at the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals, Allan Massie discusses his novel A Question of Loyalties. First published in 1989, the book is widely acclaimed as his finest.
The novel engages with all the complexities and ambiguities of loyalty and nationality as it follows a family through the divisions in France during World War II, and the repercussions which last for decades.
In the early 1950s Etienne de Balafré strives to find out what happened to his father when the German invasion of 1940 divided the country between collaboration and resistance. Where some might see an accomplice, the author Allan Massie seeks to understand a human being making difficult choices.
As always on Bookclub, a group of especially invited readers join in the discussion.
October's Bookclub choice : Dirt Music by Tim Winton (2002)
Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed Guest : Allan Massie
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Allan Massie - A Question Of Loyalties2014090720140911With James Naughtie. Recorded at the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals, Allan Massie discusses his novel A Question of Loyalties. First published in 1989, the book is widely acclaimed as his finest.

The novel engages with all the complexities and ambiguities of loyalty and nationality as it follows a family through the divisions in France during World War II, and the repercussions which last for decades.

In the early 1950s Etienne de Balafré strives to find out what happened to his father when the German invasion of 1940 divided the country between collaboration and resistance. Where some might see an accomplice, the author Allan Massie seeks to understand a human being making difficult choices.

As always on Bookclub, a group of especially invited readers join in the discussion.

October's Bookclub choice : Dirt Music by Tim Winton (2002)

Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed Guest : Allan Massie
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Tim Winton - Dirt Music2014100520141009 (R4)Australian writer Tim Winton discusses his novel Dirt Music with James Naughtie.
With James Naughtie. Celebrated Australian writer Tim Winton discusses his novel Dirt Music with a group of readers.
Tim reveals how after seven years of writing Dirt Music, he was unable to hand it in to his publisher on the agreed date. He felt ashamed of the novel and that it wasn't ready; if he found himself getting lost in it so would the reader. He spent the next fifty-five days redrafting and rewriting, and the novel went on to be short-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2002 and is considered one of his best.
Dirt Music is set on the coast of Western Australia and in its vast isolated deserts. Forty year old Georgie Jutland is a mess, with her career in ruins she's torn between two men who are both bereaved and grieving. These characters' lives are in stasis, they are incapable of articulating their emotions and instead resort to alcohol and petty crime. Tim Winton explains :
"I'm interested in people who have very few words to express feelings, it's not that they don't have feelings but they have no language, and I'm interested in finding ways to portray that... and in this instance it's space, memory and music by which they express themselves or communicate."
November's Bookclub choice : And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison (1993)
Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed Guest : Tim Winton
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.
Blake Morrison - And When Did You Last See Your Father?2014110220141106 (R4)Blake Morrison discusses his memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father?
With James Naughtie. Poet Blake Morrison talks about his memoir of growing up in Yorkshire in the fifties and sixties, the son of two local GPs. It's an honest account of family life, father-son relationships and bereavement.
The book also movingly chronicles his father's death in 1991, and attempted to resolve some of the secrets in his father's life.
First published in 1993, And When Did You Last See Your Father? became a bestseller, was adapted into a film starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent, and inspired a whole genre of literary confessional memoirs. Recorded at the Ilkley Literature Festival, Yorkshire.
December's Bookclub choice : Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian (1969)
Presenter : James Naughtie
Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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Genre

  • Genre: Discussion & Talk, Arts, Culture & the Media, Factual
  • Genre: Alexander McCall Smith, Discussion & Talk, Edinburgh, Arts, Culture & the Media, Factual, Scotland
  • Genre: Discussion & Talk, Arts, Culture & the Media, Factual, Gore Vidal
  • Genre: , , Arts, Culture & the Media,
  • Genre: Discussion & Talk, Arts, Culture & the Media, Factual

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  • Programme ID: b006s5sf

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