Episodes

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01Sebastian Faulks on Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things2011100220180604 (BBC7)

To celebrate Bookclub's 20th anniversary, the programme is inviting guest authors to choose a highlight from the extensive Bookclub archive and in this edition Sebastian Faulks introduces The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

Sebastian Faulks was Bookclub's first ever author, talking about his novel Birdsong. He recalls what it was like to step into the unknown on this new programme presented by James Naughtie with an invited group of readers joining in the conversation - just like a book group but with the author present.

Birdsong is war novel and family saga and Faulks had always thought it would work well in discussion. He reflects on the questions he was asked about his own novel and introduces Bookclub with Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, remembering the impact it had on him when it was published.

The God of Small Things won the 1997 Booker Prize and is 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 had never written fiction since - her second novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was published in 2017, six years after her appearance on Bookclub. 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.

Producer : Dymphna Flynn

First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2011

Bookclub at 20 is produced for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Belinda Naylor.

Sebastian Faulks talks about being Bookclub's first ever author in 1998.

Authors introduce classics from the literary archive.

02Naomi Alderman on Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy2000010220180605 (BBC7)

To celebrate Bookclub's 20th anniversary, the programme is inviting guest authors to choose a highlight from the extensive Bookclub archive. In this edition Naomi Alderman introduces The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Naomi Alderman explains how important Bookclub is to her both as a listener and also for her appearance to discuss her novel Disobedience. She enjoyed meeting her readers and was thrilled that some of them had visited the area of north-west London to see for themselves where her novel is set.

Bookclub with Douglas Adams was the first edition of the new millennium, and was broadcast a year before he died in 2001 aged 49. Naomi recalls how Adams inspired her to pursue her own dreams of writing science fiction and her sorrow that he died so young. The Bookclub audience ask Douglas Adams questions about comedy, sci-fi and about the creation of his characters and his influences; and way before it was possible, Adams and James Naughtie imagine the future of the novel in a digital format.

Produced by Joanna Rahim

First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2000

Bookclub at 20 is produced for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Belinda Naylor.

Naomi Alderman discusses her own appearance on Bookclub and her favourite from the archive

Authors introduce classics from the literary archive.

03David Nicholls on Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty2012030420180606 (BBC7)To celebrate Bookclub's 20th anniversary, the programme is inviting guest authors to choose a favourite from the rich Bookclub archive. In this edition David Nicholls introduces Alan Hollinghurst's appearance in 2015 when he discussed his novel The Line of Beauty with James Naughtie and a group of readers.

David Nicholls also describes his own experience of Bookclub and how it made him think back to what it was like to write his bestseller One Day. He discusses his admiration for Hollinghurst's novel including the depth of his research and his ability to sometimes only write 300 words a day.

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 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. The Line of Beauty won the Man Booker Prize in 2004.

Producer : Dymphna Flynn

First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2012.

Bookclub at 20 is produced for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Belinda Naylor.

David Nicholls remembers appearing on Bookclub with his book One Day.

Authors introduce classics from the literary archive.

04Lionel Shriver On Matthew Kneale's English Passengers20180607To celebrate Bookclub's 20th anniversary, the programme has invited guest authors to choose a highlight from the extensive Bookclub archive. In this edition Lionel Shriver has chosen English Passengers by Matthew Kneale.

Lionel Shriver also talks about her own appearance on Bookclub to discuss We Need to Talk about Kevin. The group of readers were dismayed when she refused to answer questions about whether the protagonist of the novel, the teenage Kevin, was born evil. And she describes how much English Passengers made her laugh and pleads for its author, Matthew Kneale, to please write another book.

English Passengers won Whitbread Book of the Year in 2000. It is narrated by 20 different characters and tells the story of a voyage to look for the Garden of Eden in Tasmania and the rapid decline of that island's indigenous population of Tasmanian Aborigines. James Naughtie, author Matthew Kneale and readers discuss this rampant and ambitious piece of writing that deals with big ideas like radical theory, genocide and Darwinism, yet is hilarious too.

Produced by Dymphna Flynn

First broadcast in 2006

Bookclub at 20 is produced for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Belinda Naylor.

Lionel Shriver remembers appearing on Bookclub with her novel We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Authors introduce classics from the literary archive.

05Elif Shafak On Toni Morrison's Beloved1998060720180608 (BBC7)To celebrate Bookclub's 20th anniversary, the programme has invited guest authors to choose a highlight from the extensive Bookclub archive. In this edition Turkish writer Elif Shafak has chosen the second ever edition of Bookclub, Toni Morrison talking about Beloved.

Elif Shafak recalls her appearance on Bookclub to talk about her own book, The Forty Rules of Love. She explains how much she enjoyed the experience because authors rarely have a chance to talk about one piece of work in an intimate setting with readers. She also explains why she thinks women read books differently to men and praises Morrison's portrayal of strong women in Beloved and why the book means so much to her as a writer.

Toni Morrison is the grand-daughter of a slave from Alabama and all her writing career has been fascinated by what slavery was and how its traces flow down the generations. She won the Pulitzer prize for Beloved and thirty years on, having lost none of its power to shock, Beloved stares unflinchingly into the abyss of racism. It's the story of Sethe who murders her own daughter in preference to being recaptured as slaves.

The novel transforms history into a poetic chronicle of slavery and its terrible, unending aftermath. Bookclub asks Toni Morrison the question all readers want to hear, is Beloved flesh and blood, or is she in the imagination of the characters who have lived through the terrible events?

Produced by Olivia Seligman

First broadcast on Radio 4 in 1998

Bookclub at 20 is produced for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Belinda Naylor.

Elif Shafak introduces her own favourite programme from the Bookclub archive.

Authors introduce classics from the literary archive.