Jacke continues this week’s look at Willa Cather by zeroing in on the style and substance of My Antonia (1918), Cather’s celebrated novel about Bohemian immigrants struggling to survive on the unforgiving prairies of Nebraska.
Willa Cather (1873-1947) went from a childhood in Nebraska to a career in publishing in New York City, where she became one of the most successful women in journalism. And then, after a period as an editor for one of the most famous magazines in America, she focused on writing novels about the hardscrabble lives of immigrants trying to tame the Midwestern prairie, including enduring classics like O Pioneers! and My Antonia.
Following our last episode with Patricia Engel, Jacke takes a closer look at Gabriel García Márquez, including his literary influences, his search for truth in nostalgia and history, and his use of invention and the marvelous to approach a kind of heightened sense of what’s possible, what’s actual, and what’s essential.
Author Patricia Engel joins Jacke to talk about her childhood in New Jersey, her artistic family, her lifelong love of stories and writing, her new novel Infinite Country, and “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother” by Gabriel García Márquez, a story she first read as a 14-year-old and which she returns to often.
PATRICIA ENGEL is the author of Infinite Country, a Reese’s Book Club pick, Esquire Book Club pick, Indie Next pick, Amazon Best Book of the Month, and more.
Her other books include The Veins of the Ocean, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year; It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, which won the International Latino Book Award, and of Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award and the Young Lions Fiction Award; winner of a Florida Book Award, International Latino Book Award and Independent Publisher Book Award, longlisted for the Story Prize and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. For Vida, Patricia was the first woman to be awarded Colombia’s national prize in literature, the 2017 Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana.
She has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Hedgebrook, and Key West Literary Seminar among others, and is the recipient of an O. Henry Award.
After taking a look at the eventful life and dramatic death of Yukio Mishima in our last episode, Jacke turns to a closer look at the works of Mishima, including appraisals by Jay McInerney and Haruki Murakami, before turning to a deep dive into the world of Spring Snow, the first volume in Mishima’s four-book masterpiece The Sea of Fertility.
In November of 1970, the most famous novelist in Japan dropped off the final pages of his masterpiece with his publisher, then went to a military office in Tokyo, where he and a small band of supporters took the commander hostage. The novelist – whose name was Yukio Mishima – then appeared on the balcony before a crowd of a thousand soldiers and supporters. After exhorting them to overthrow the Japanese government and return Japan to its proud imperial past, he stepped away from the balcony and committed seppuku, the ritualized suicide made famous by samurai warriors from Japan’s legendary shogunate period. Who was Mishima? What brought him to this point in his life?
In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the turbulent life and dramatic death of Yukio Mishima (1925-1970). PLUS a special announcement!!
Jacke takes a look at adult literacy and continuing education, anti-literacy laws in nineteenth-century America, and two famous passages from the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), in which the young slave manages to overcome obstacles and teach himself to read and write.
When Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) was a child, her father made the Hansberry name famous by fighting for justice in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. By the time she was thirty, she herself was famous as the author of A Raisin in the Sun (1959), which tells the story of a black family attempting to purchase a home in a white neighborhood. In this episode, we look at the brief life and towering accomplishments of the woman who was the godmother to Nina Simone’s daughter and whose remarks to talented young African American students inspired Simone’s song “Young, Gifted and Black.”
The History of Literature presents a short story by Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, produced by Storybound. PLUS! In preparation for our Writers Block episode, we hear from three great writers – Virginia Woolf, Iris Murdoch, and Franz Kafka – who privately (and achingly) wrote about not writing. Enjoy!
Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, a finalist for The Story Prize (2020/2021), and longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Her work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Harvard Review, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Baltimore Review, TueNight, Ebony and Bitch magazines, and various anthologies. Deesha is a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People.
The music composition and sound design for this story is by Glasys. Glasys (Gil Assayas) is a pianist, synthesist, producer and vocalist who delivers intricate virtuosic keyboard parts, electronic soundscapes and impassioned vocals in one package that combines his many influences including Electronic music, Alternative Rock, Jazz and Classical music.
Storybound is a radio theater program designed for the podcast age. Hosted by Jude Brewer and with original music composed for each episode, the podcast features the voices of today’s literary icons reading their essays, poems, and fiction.
Anna North, author and journalist, joins us for a full discussion of the Western genre, how twenty-first-century authors have revived the form with modern-day sensibilities and a more layered understanding of history, her love of George Herriman’s quietly subversive Krazy Kat comics, and her new novel Outlawed, a riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West.