The Best of Radio LitopiaSep 28, 2022
The Adversary – Emmanuel Carrère
In the quiet Jura region of France, a physician goes completely haywire in a series of crimes that are hard for his friends and acquaintances to grasp. But then their grasp loosens further. And disappears altogether. Because the man at the centre, the man they thought they knew, turns out to be a dangerous and violent stranger. And now I know what it feels like to write a Dateline teaser. Non-fiction.
Latecomers – Anita Brookner
Hartmann and Fibitch arrived in England as refugees on the Kindertransport and then they had had wives and children and those children had families and – what was the point of this story again? Served (saved?) with a side of Sebald (how can you not) plus the flavour of Rushforth, which is the name of an author.
The Scapegoat – Sophia Nikolaidou
The real life murder mystery of a CBS reporter is foreground and backdrop for a modern day high school student trying to figure out why the wrong man was put down. Also a love story. Salonic.
Peter Englund: The Beauty and the Sorrow
His origins were humble; a working-class boy from a small military town in northern Sweden, not far from the Arctic Circle. Today, he is one of the most influential figures in the world of literature, because Peter Englund is Permanent Secretary to the Swedish Academy, the body that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature.
For someone who has within his power the making or breaking of international writing careers, Peter, as you'll hear, is remarkably unassuming. Perhaps one reason for this is that he's still a writer himself; he understands the writing process profoundly, and his own books have been both bestsellers and widely acclaimed. His most recent, just launched in London, is a stunning new approach to the history of the First World War. Subtitled "an intimate history", The Beauty and the Sorrow explores the personal aspects of war: not the grand strategies concocted in the cabinets of Europe, but the experiences of "ordinary" people from around the world, all now unknown - were it not for Peter's deeply moving book.
The Man Behind Sherlock Holmes
What with Benedict Cumberbatch’s radical new television interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, and the recent big-screen Guy Ritchie / Robert Downey / Jude Law action movies, the Baker Street seven per-center is enjoying a major revival of interest.
How appropriate, then, that the master scriptwriter of the entire Holmes canon should join us for tonight's Litopia After Dark. Bert Coules is nearly as legendary as his protagonist in Holmesian circles. He’s a man who’s had more experience of Sherlock Holmes than almost anyone else, apart from Conan Doyle. Not only was he head writer on the BBC’s project to dramatise the entire Holmes canon, but he then went on to write The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – original plots based on passing references from Conan Doyle’s oeuvre.
Bert has also adapted several Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novels, starring Philip Madoc as Cadfael, and has dramatised works by Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Isaac Asimov and other best-selling genre authors.
Whether you're a Holmes fan, an aspiring scriptwriter, or simply interested in great drama, you'll love this show - pass it on to your friends!
John Simopoulos: A Tiger Burning Bright
When we asked John Simopoulos, Founding Fellow and Dean of Degrees at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, to read Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner last year, we had an overwhelming response from listeners wanting to hear more from him.
We're thrilled to welcome John back to present this special new year's "mixed bag of prose, poetry and century" that is certain to delight and inspire you... happy new year!
John reads and discusses:
- Meditation 17 by John Donne
- "The Little Black Boy" by William Blake
- "The Tiger" by William Blake
- Samuel Johnson's letter to Lord Chesterfield
- "Those Winter Sundays" By Robert Hayden
- "Heraclitus" by William Johnson Cory
- "On The Coast Of Coromandel" by Osbert Sitwell
- "The Owl And The Pussy Cat" by Edward Lear
Music in the programme is available for purchase from magnatune.com
Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street - Mahfouz
It's our last discussion for a while with John Simopoulos and again, we're focusing on our series entitled Books That Matter. Galsworthy and Proust? Not worthy to hold a candle to today's featured author, Mahfouz - says John. Naguib Mahfouz was an Egyptian novelist who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature, and is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature. The trilogy of books - Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street - are collectively titled the Cairo Trilogy, an immense monumental work of 1,500 pages or so - "and every character in them is repulsive," says John, "but do read it - if you've got the stomach for it!".
Our Man In The Cold
Tonight's show is a real-life thriller: featuring espionage, double-dealing, murder and even a dash of Hollywood. And a British ambassador who sees things he shouldn't - and decides to tell the world. Sounds like the plot of a movie? Craig Murray's amazing story has already been optioned by producers - if you can't wait to see the big-screen version, you can hear him on Litopia After Dark - you'll be riveted!
The Golden Years of British TV Comedy
From The Two Ronnies to Blackadder…from Benny Hill to Marty Feldman… the golden years of British television comedy produced some of the funniest shows and larger-than-life characters the world has ever seen.
Garry’s guest tonight COLIN EDMONDS has dominated British television comedy writing for four decades – and he knew them all… the stars, the monsters, the legends and the lunatics!
If names such as Les Dawson, Lilly Savage, Paul Daniels, Julian Clary, Barbara Windsor and – of course – Bob Monkhouse – evoke fond memories… then you’re going to love tonight’s show!
Of course, the tradition of bawdy British comedy goes right back to the world of the music hall… from which Colin draws his inspiration for his new novel, Steam, Smoke & Mirrors: with insights and extracts from the secret journals of Professor Artemus More PhD (Cantab) FRS. Set in a Steampunk vision of Victorian Britain Steam, Smoke & Mirrors is “Victorian science fiction”, says Colin: “It’s so sexy! Men in top hats and women in thigh-length boots! Steampunk is on a roll!”
Debriefer Special with Dan Rather
"I wanted to know what went on -what really went on - inside Viacom/CBS... about the collaboration between very big business and very big government." So says television legend Dan Rather in this special edition of The Debriefer. "I knew that a lot had gone on behind the scenes [in CBS News] that wasn't right. As a reporter, I tried to dig into that story."
The scandal that Dan and his team at CBS had unearthed concerned no less a person than George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. At the time of the Viet Nam war, Bush's father had used his influence to get him a posting in the Texas Air National Guard, thus ensuing he would never risk active service in the battlefield. "That's a fact", says Dan. "The president didn't deny it: he's never denied it."
Even more scandalously, after being posted to this "champagne unit" for the sons of privileged and well-connected people, Bush countermanded orders and disappeared for a year! "[Those facts] were true when we reported them", says Dan. "And they're true now."
Listen to this Debriefer special as Dan tells us what happened next to him and his team: it will shock you. If you enjoyed this show, buy Dan's new book, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, just out from Grand Central Publishing.
The Zelig of American History
How do you go about writing a book about one of the most powerful dynasties on earth?
That's the challenge special guest Russ Baker faced when he first considered writing about the Bush family; one which encompasses two U.S. Senators, one Supreme Court Justice, two Governors, two Presidents and innumerable bankers and businessmen. The book took five years to write and is a meticulous piece of research (there are over a thousand footnotes).
According to the late Gore Vidal, Family of Secrets is "one of the most important books of the past ten years". Dan Rather - who you can hear right here on Radio Litopia's Debriefer show - called it "a tour de force. " "It's made me rethink", he says, "even those events I witnessed with my own eyes".
R.J.Ellory - A Quiet Belief In 'What-If...'
You'll recognize him as one of Britain's leading thriller writers, author of the multi-million seller A Quiet Belief In Angels and ten other award-winner novels. But you may not know much about the extraordinary personal story of tonight's guest R.J. Ellory - a life that is just as thrilling and moving as anything in his bestsellers.
Inspiring, revealing and searingly honest... we think tonight's show is quite simply one of our best.
Litopia After Dark : The Litopia 4th July Holiday Quiz
Where do your most brilliant ideas come from? What's the most extreme thing you've done when researching your book? What's the worst book you've ever bought? Litopia After Dark this week begins to wind down for the summer holidays with a writers' quiz. It all gets completely out of hand as the panelists give each other marks and the bickering reaches a crescendo as they try to outdo each other in the race to the finish line... tune in to see who wins.
One-on-One with Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer is the consummate writer’s writer: winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize, the US National Book Critics Circle Award the E. M. Forster Award, and more. The Daily Telegraph newspaper has called him “the best living writer in Britain”. Zadie Smith believes he is “a national treasure.”
This is a specially extended Litopia After Dark - we hope you enjoy this opportunity to get to know one of the finest writers in the world today.
Litvinenko: Murder Most Foul
At the age of 43, a few weeks after he secured British citizenship, former KGB and FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko was murdered: the world's first victim of polonium 210 poisoning. The Litvinenko killing revealed that London has quietly become not only the single greatest centre of Russian capital outside Moscow, but also a turbulent seat of Russian opposition.
Our special guest tonight is Alan Cowell, senior correspondent for the New York Times, based in London and Paris. Few people know more about this extraordinary subject than Alan; his book “The Terminal Spy” is the definitive work on the topic, and he continues to report on the story as it unfolds for NYTimes.com.
Alan typifies old-school journalism at its best. He was the last Reuters correspondent to file dispatches by carrier pigeon, and has covered stories in over 90 countries. He won a George Polk Award for his coverage of the broadening turmoil in South Africa that led to the end of apartheid. He was expelled from the country by the government of P.W. Botha in early 1987.
Since then, he has headed The New York Times’s bureaus in Greece, Egypt, Italy, Germany and London, where he the Nathaniel Nash Award.
Alan has written three other books: an African memoir, “Killing the Wizards”; and two novels, “A Walking Guide” and its sequel, “The Paris Correspondent”, which deals in part with the challenges of the new digital era in news gathering and reporting.
The Causes of the First World War
It was supposed to be "the war that will end war" - according to the misplaced optimism of British author H.G. Wells, and countless others like him who cheerfully expected "our boys" to be home by Christmas 1914. Involving all the world's great powers, more than 70 million combatants, and over 9 million fatalities, it became one of the largest wars in history.
And perhaps most tragically, those who died in the trenches, or on the shores of Gallipoli, had no inkling of the underlying causes, quarrels and agendas for which they were to sacrifice their lives. While its origins are still hotly debated by historians, this is no mere academic discussion. As you'll hear in tonight's totally engrossing show, the legacy of the Great War is still very much with us today - setting the agenda for many of the current events in the Middle East and beyond.
Our special guest is acclaimed historian Professor Sean McMeekin, whose radical and assiduous scholarship has shed much new light on this much-misunderstood conflict. Sean's books include The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power, The Russian Origins of the First World War, and the forthcoming July 1914: Countdown to War.
Sex and the Bipolar Explorer
We've got a lovely Easter chocolate-box full of naughtiness for you this week! All tied up in a saucy bow. Choose from a tempting selection of fillings, including:
- How do Polar explorers have sex?
- The worst celebrity books of all time
- Jimmy Savile's Personal Grooming Tips
- How Barbara Cartland's face was held together by tape
- Why the Keeper of the Royal Stool should resign
- And our favourite chestnut... JK Rowling's breast size
The entirely wonderful, not to say intrepid, Kari Herbert is back with us: her new book Polar Wives tells the stories of the remarkable women behind the world's most daring explorers - a great read if the Easter weather takes a turn for the worse. And should you accidentally over-indulge yourself with holiday treats, don't panic - the hilarious and witty Jane Wenham-Jones is ready and waiting with 100 Ways to Fight the Flab – The Wannabe Guide to a Better Bottom.
The Love of Money
British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne are currently enforcing "savage" spending cuts that, in Cameron's own words, "will change our whole way of life". Why? What have the British people done to deserve this punishment?
Tonight's guest, Professor L. Randall Wray, has got some very revealing answers. If you want to know how we got in this mess - listen to this show. If you want to know what's going to happen next - listen to this show. And if you want to know what we might be able to do about it... you know what to do. This is one of our very best - and most important - shows. Please: tell all your friends about it.
The Listener in the Shadows
It's not often we have a real-life spy as our special guest on LAD - but tonight, stepping out of the shadows and into our spotlight is special guest Major David Thorp - a man who has spent his entire life in signals intelligence (SIGINT)... from the Cold War to the Falklands, and everything in-between.
SIGINT is one of the least-known but most important aspects of battlefield and peacetime intelligence gathering. David's book, The Silent Listener - Falklands 1982: The Inside Story of British Electronic Surveillance and Intel Controversies, ignited a firestorm of controversy when it was published... and tonight we get our teeth into his insider's revelations about the sinking of the Belgrano and much more besides.
Hollywood Lives: The Stunt Woman's Tale
"Behind the phony tinsel of Hollywood" quipped Oscar Levant, lies the real tinsel". Maybe true, but for our guest tonight, action actress Spice Williams-Crosby, the bruises, broken ribs and concussions are real enough. Spice has Hollywood in her DNA; you've seen her in motion pictures such as Star Trek, From Dusk Till Dawn, and A Simple Plan and on countless television dramas, including Scrubs, Roseanne and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spice has crashed cars, dove through glass windows, taken stair falls, executed 30-foot ratchets, 50-foot high falls, and hung from helicopters 350 feet above the ground. Oh, and wrestled Jim Carrey, too.
This is the first time we've had a genuine Klingon on the show - Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!
The R Word
When award-winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden flounced off Litopia After Dark, we were dismayed. It's the only time in our history that a guest has done that. Yes, we do pose very direct questions – it wouldn’t be Litopia After Dark if we didn’t. Still, we couldn't understand what had upset him so much.
So we asked Dr. Leo Killsback, professor of American Indian Studies and citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, to help us. And unlike Boyden's immature temper-tantrum - this is a show worth listening to!
I'm JK Rowling! Do Not Make Me Angry!
Three Faces of War – The Assassin
Making a welcome return tonight is journalist-turned-investigative-historian, Tim Butcher. Tim specialises in covering awkward places at difficult moments: Kurdistan under attack in 1991 by Saddam Hussein, Sarajevo during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, the Allied attack on Iraq in 2003, Israel's 2006 clash with Hizbollah in southern Lebanon among other crises. All good preparation, then for tonight’s skirmish with Ian...
But it’s not all fol-de-rol and bon mots ce soir. Tim’s new, widely-praised book is a quest to find history's most famous terrorist before Osama bin Laden... Gavrilo Princip, the teenage assassin who triggered the catastrophic series of events that led to the First World War.
You may think that everything that could possibly be told about this particular Bosnian Serb has already been written. Not so. Listen to tonight’s show – and read Tim’s excellent book, The Trigger – and you will appreciate why reviewers have been showering it, and him, with praise. We’re indeed proud to host him tonight.
Three Faces of War – The English Lady
She does her job with typically understated bravery. To meet her, you might think (for a moment) that this headscarved and very English lady is, perhaps, a headmistress, a rose grower or possibly something a bit nebulous in the arts.
But this is Lindsey Hilsum. The woman for whom the expression sang-froid might have been invented. Specialising in remaining imperturbable under fire, and always meeting her deadline.
As International Editor for Britain’s Channel 4 News, she reported from Belgrade in 1999 when NATO bombed Serbia, from Baghdad during the 2003 US invasion, and covered the Fallujah assault in November 2004. Her reports from Africa, the Middle East and Russia have earned her many awards. In 1994, she was the only English-speaking journalist in Rwanda when the genocide started.
It’s an obvious question, but we still want to know – what’s it like being a woman in the front line? How do you cope when your friend and colleague, Marie Colvin, dies covering the siege of Homs in Syria? And – when you come back from the world’s most perilous places, having seen things that no normal person should ever see – how do you sleep at night?
Tonight, fresh from Damascus, Lindsey joins us in London to help us make sense of Crimea, Syria – and the genesis of Isis.
Three Faces of War – Very Special Forces
On this day in 1918 – the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at the 11th hour – the hostilities of the First World war formally ended.
This is Remembrance Day, aka Poppy Day. But why poppies? Well, contrary to popular belief, poppies have been associated with war since at least Napoleonic times, when a writer first noted how poppies grew over the graves of soldiers. It is theorized that the damage done to the landscape in Flanders during WW1 greatly increased the lime content in the soil, leaving the poppy as one of the few plants able to survive.
At the war’s conclusion, it was an American professor who first suggested that wearing a red poppy year-round would fittingly honour the war’s fallen. Soon, the red silk poppy had been adopted as an official symbol of remembrance by the American Legion.
And then the idea spread to Britain, where Field Marshal Douglas Haig – the "Butcher of the Somme” – used the motif to promote The Royal British Legion, which he co-founded.
And yet, the poppy symbol remains an enigma. What we are actually celebrating, or remembering, when we buy one? Is it the glory of war? Or its poignancy? Are we remembering selfless heroism? Or the futility of human conflict?
Our guest tonight, Ben Griffin, has clear views on this. Ben is no ordinary foot soldier. As a member of Britain’s elite special forces, the SAS, Ben has served his country in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Baghdad. Ben is eloquent, lucid and deeply moving. If you want to know what it is actually like to fight a war in the 21st century, listen to this show.
Ben’s organisation, Veterans for Peace, can be contacted here.
El Narco: Inside Mexico's Deadly Drugs Wars
Seventy thousand dead. Twenty thousand disappeared. Severed heads with threatening messages dumped by the side of the highway. A terrorist insurgency on the verge of toppling governments. Iraq? Syria? The Congo? Ukraine?
To walk us through the kill zone— from the peasants picking coca in the hills behind Bogota to the contract killers of Ciudad Juarez— tonight we’re joined by the amazingly-still-alive Ioan Grillo, acclaimed journalist and author of El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency.
Intimately familiar with the deadly cartels, Ioan breaks down Mexico’s bloody “trampolines”, the reality of Breaking Bad— in the form of Mexican crystal meth “super-labs”— the splashy death of Pablo Escobar, and the largest cash seizure in modern history.
We also discuss confirmed CIA complicity in importing cocaine into America and the character assassination and suspicious death of reporter Gary Webb— whose star-studded biopic Kill the Messenger was recently released in theaters.
The Viral Mind of Susan Blackmore
Meet Susan Blackmore, the world’s foremost expert on memes. The intro to her seminal work The Meme Machine was written by none other than genius biologist and fundamentalist atheist blowhard Richard Dawkins. Her lectures on TED receives millions of views— even despite TED's dishwater-dull format when compared to Litopia After Dark (rowr!)
“Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world,” said Marshal McLuhan. Never has this been more true.
(Full quote: Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms.)
But do memes actually exist? Or are they simply metaphors to observe our shifting culture? And who is Susan Blackmore anyway?
After an out of body experience she studied the paranormal for 24 years, only to arrive at the conclusion it was bollocks— all of it. So who’s to say she won’t soon say the same about memes?
But wait, there’s more! Now she’d like for us to consider what she calls temes— technology assisted memes. Replicators so powerful they may yet turn our computers against us— and sooner than you think. Just ask Stephen Hawking.
Because your Macbook Pro is spreading words, tunes, images and ideas much faster than your feeble human mind can imagine.
Check everything you think you know about memes at the door. Because this show is no lecture. This show is virus inside of your mind.
Ripped Off By The BBC?
The BBC – the world’s oldest and biggest public service broadcaster – appears to have a serious ethics problem. That’s the devastating conclusion from this edition of The DEBRIEFER. How else could you explain the plight of bestselling author and screenwriter M.R. Hall, whose THE CORONER series of books bears a striking similarity to the BBC’s a new television series entitled – somewhat unimaginatively – THE CORONER.
Listeners to THE DEBRIEFER will be familiar with horrific accounts of rapacious Hollywood studios “borrowing” ideas from defenceless authors. The twist, this time, is that the allegations concern a public service broadcaster… not a commercial entity, but an organisation that is supposed to serve the public good. Service, not profit, is the motivator… or is supposed to be.
Troublingly, this case is not unique. One of our guests on Litopia After Dark, former British ambassador Craig Murray, believes his autobiography Murder in Samarkand was plagiarized for the BBC comedy The Ambassador. “The production company had actually invited me to their offices”, says Craig, “for a meeting to ask me to sell them the rights to Murder in Samarkand. I attended the meeting but I refused to sell them the rights. They went ahead and made the series anyway.”
This isn’t fair, it’s not cricket, and it isn’t in the spirit of public service broadcasting. Come on, BBC – show some leadership and get your house in order – while you still have a chance.
Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut
Traitor? Spy? Loyal American or self-serving amoralist? Howard W Campbell Jr tries to write his own get out of jail free card in in Kurt Vonnegut's 'Mother Night'. Vintage.
Satan in Goray - Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Messiah is coming! His arrival is imminent! That’s the bad news... The good news is his arrival and social schedule are narrated with a combination of enthralled immediacy and distrustful distance by a Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer. And yet, is it ‘all that’? Some readers will be super-pumped, others might not catch messiah fever. All the colours of the rainbow.
The Porn Supremacy
In the week that Microsoft bought a fifth of Barnes & Noble’s digital businesses, and we learned that e-books sales grew 360% in the UK last year, we thought at The Naked Book we’d ignore all that - and focus on 'mummy porn'.
Why? Well, it was the public wot did it. Four pence in every pound spent on a book last week went on the adventures of Anastasia Steele and the manipulative billionaire Christian Grey: whose dangerous couplings take place in E L James' Twilight-inspired trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. The erotic hits are revitalizing a genre gone flaccid, and prompting publishers to unsheathe their erotic back-list.
Scott Pack, publisher at HarperCollins imprint The Friday Project, was so excited he decided to 'do' the show naked. Dr Brooke Magnanti, formerly known as the blogger and call-girl Belle de Jour, suggested playing a drinking game. Needless to say the innuendos, along with the liquor flowed freely.
The discussion, ably assisted by regulars Sam Missingham and Catherine Neilan was, ahem, deep. Hopefully most of the smut will get past the censors. Maybe some of the insight too. The big Question from the show - we don't like "mummy porn". What shall we call it instead?
Peter James - King of Crime
He's a crime boss - but not the way you'd expect. British writer Peter James was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of his ongoing contribution to the arts, which tells you something of his significance to writing and publishing generally.
The Daily Mail called him a cross between Stephen King and Michael Crichton, and with sales of his 25 titles running into the multi-millions, he's a serious force in commercial publishing.
Crime is one of the biggest of all publishing genres; it accounts for about a quarter of all books sold. In tonight's extended show, we get under the surface of both the writer himself and the whole genre - what does it take to succeed in this area?
Peter, who is also chair of the Crime Writers Association, is clearly the best man to ask. Peter's latest book Perfect People has just been published in the UK, and his most recent paperback, Dead Man's Grip, has just gone to the No. 1 position in the paperback charts (knocking off Jamie Oliver!).
Seth Godin: The New Face Of Publishing
There are some people who just get what's going on: faster, more accurately, and more cogently than the rest of us. Seth Godin is one of those people. A legend on the 'net, Seth authored the most popular e-book ever written ("Unleashing The Idea Virus") and commands speaker's fees that run into telephone numbers.
For Radio Litopia, however, Seth's fee is... simply your attention.
This is one of those shows that you'll want to listen to many times. The wisdom is intense and the conclusions enlightening.
Martin Bell: A Front Row Seat At The Making Of History
"I liked the idea of having a front-row seat at the making of history. I felt myself move into another gear when I hit a war zone. And sometimes be not a terribly nice person."
Martin Bell - "the man in the white suit" - is a British institution. Just as Walter Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America", so Martin Bell represents journalistic integrity and straight-talking to several generations of Britons. In this extended show, we talk to Martin about his life, his war experiences, the experience of being a politician, and... his poetry! It's a treat - don't miss it.
Martin's book of light and dark verse, For Whom The Bell Tolls, has just been published.
Go Ahead, Steampunk, Make My Day!
We're partying like it's 1899 tonight as special guest Robert Brown of steampunk band Abney Park takes us inside the intrepid world of one of the hottest writing and music genres at the moment. Steampunk - once a niche market - is going mainstream everywhere you look.
But what is its appeal - and what does it say about the zeitgeist? As usual, Litopia After Dark keeps you two steps ahead of the trends - so pop on your goggles & boilersuit, and let's get this dirigible inflated! Our all-star panel tonight features Graham Marks, Nic Alderton and Dave Bartram - who makes a welcome (musical) return...
Jeffrey Archer: The Archer Still Has Two Fingers
With 270 million copies of his books in circulation, Jeffrey Archer can justly claim to be one of the world's all-time bestselling novelists. From his first book way back in 1976 - rejected by fifteen publishers - to his current worldwide hit The Sins Of The Father - his writer's journey has been a wild ride of extremes. This absorbing in-depth interview, during which Jeffrey fields questions both from our panel and from the live audience in the chat room, is utterly unmissable. No topic is off-limits. Candid, witty and very much the consummate pro, Jeffrey packs a lifetime of advice into sixty spellbinding minutes. If you've ever wanted to attend a masterclass in how to become a bestselling novelist - start listening now.
The World’s Deadliest Country
Get your jabs, people! Our guest (and fixer tonight) is none other than the great travel writer Tim Butcher - journalist, war-correspondent and author of the best-selling Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart, which describes his hair-raising attempt to retrace Henry Morton Stanley's 19th century route up the Congo River.
For the armchair traveler in all of us, Tim will be our escort to the scene of “the greatest human drama on the planet” – welcome to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to more chaotic warfare than a drunken child can shake his gun at – and from there, we head to Sierra Leone - arguably the world's poorest country - in the aftermath of bloody civil war.
Tim doesn’t do tourism – he does travel – the rugged kind. The sort that Graham Greene did. And Paul Theroux doesn’t
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
Elena is friends with Lila, whom hurts Elena in all kinds of ways that Elena finds fascinating, and painful. Slums, slums, slums, creepy older men, and not a single moment of levity. Prepare yourself.
From recent débuts to classics, fiction to non-fiction, memoirs, philosophy, science, history and journalism, Burning Books separates the smoking from the singeworthy, looking at the pleasures (and pains) of reading, the craft of writing, the ideas that are at the heart of great novels as well as novels that try to be great, but don’t quite make it.