Jon Raymond : Rain Dragon

Host David Naimon talks with Portland author, Jon Raymond, about his new novel Rain Dragon.  Raymond is the author of the novel Half-life, and the short story collection, Livability, which won the Oregon Book Award and contained two stories that became the critically acclaimed movies Old Joy andWendy & Lucy.Jon Raymond was also the screenwriter for the film Meek’s Cutoff, and for the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce starring Kate Winslet.

Rain Dragon follows a couple who leave the rat race in L.A. to work on an organic farm in Oregon. “Raymond expertly captures the emotions of personal growth and inner turmoil while bringing the Oregon setting to life with descriptive language reminiscent of that in his first novel, The Half Life (2004). Deep characters offset by a light tone make this work about dreams and realities an enjoyable read.”—Booklist

Nathan Englander : What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

 Englander burst on the literary scene in 1999 with For The Relief of Unbearable Urges, a story collection that earned him the PEN/Faulkner Malamud Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kauffman Prize.   His first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, set during Argentina’s Dirty War, came out in 2007.  And this year finds Englander particularly busy, with a play,  The Twenty-Seventh Man, premiering at The Public Theater in New York, the release of his original translation of the Haggadah, the prayerbook used during the Passover seder, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer,  and his much anticipated story collection that we will talk about today, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.  “It takes an exceptional combination of moral humility and moral assurance to integrate fine-grained comedy and large-scale tragedy as daringly as Nathan Englander does.”—Jonathan Franzen

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank vividly displays the humor, complexity, and edge that we’ve come to expect from Nathan Englander’s fiction-always animated by a deep, vibrant core of historical resonance.”
—Jennifer Egan

Ben Marcus : The Flame Alphabet

What if the words your children spoke to you actually made you sick? Physically sick. And what if the children themselves relished in this newfound power over their parents? This is the setting of Ben Marcus’ new dystopian novel The Flame Alphabet. Ben Marcus is Chair of Creative Writing at Columbia University, and the author of three previous books of fiction.  David Naimon hosts.

“Echoes of Ballard’s insanely sane narrators, echoes of Kafka’s terrible gift for metaphor, echoes of David Lynch, William Burroughs, Robert Walser, Bruno Schulz and Mary Shelley: a world of echoes and re-echoes—I mean our world—out of which the sanely insane genius of Ben Marcus somehow manages to wrest something new and unheard of. And yet as I read The Flame Alphabet, late into the night, feverishly turning the pages, I felt myself, increasingly, in the presence of the classic.”— Michael Chabon

Colson Whitehead : Zone One

Host David Naimon speaks with award-winning writer Colson Whitehead about his new novel, “Zone One,”  described as a “wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel.” The world has been devastated by a plague. There are two types of survivors. the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.  Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels The IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and Sag Harbor. He has also written a book of about his hometown, a collection of essays called The Colossus of New York. His work has appeared in the New York TimesGranta,Harper’s, and the New Yorker. A recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a MacArthur grant, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, he lives in New York City.

Justin Torres : We The Animals

Host David Naimon interviews debut novelist Justin Torres.  His book, We the Animals, has been heralded for its beautiful, concentrated prose. NPR likened it to a diamond, brilliant and brilliantly compressed.  Esquire magazine called it a “knock to the head that will leave your mouth agape.” Justin Torres is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, with work in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House and Glimmer Train.  Currently he serves as the Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University.

China Mieville : Embassytown

Science fiction and fantasy writer China Mieville has won nearly every award in the genre and has caught the attention of mainstream publications from the New York Times to the Guardian with the depth of his imagination and the height of his erudition. David Naimon interviews him about his new, much anticipated, book “Embassytown,” a book Ursula Le Guin describes as follows: “Embassytown is a fully achieved work of art…Works on every level, providing compulsive narrative, splendid intellectual rigour and risk, moral sophistication, fine verbal fireworks and sideshows, and even the old-fashioned satisfaction of watching a protagonist become more of a person than she gave promise of being.”

Scott Sparling : Wire to Wire

Host David Naimon interviews Portland writer Scott Sparling about his debut novel, Wire to Wire, from Tin House Books.   A pick of the week by Publisher’s Weekly, they call Wire to Wire “well crafted and thrilling, tying together an obvious love for both Michigan and railroads with an expert sense of timing and plot. The world he has created is both overwhelming and exhilarating, thanks in no small part to a large ensemble of memorable characters and a relentless pace. Indeed, hardly a page goes by without some sort of fantastic calamity throwing Slater and company into further turmoil—when the most peaceful passages of the story are speed-addled, that’s saying something—but it’s done so well that hopping off this runaway train would never cross a reader’s mind.”