The History of Literature #168 – Jhumpa Lahiri (“The Third and Final Continent”)

What was it like to relocate from India to London to America in the early 1970s? And how can a daughter hope to recapture the experience of her father and convey it in fiction? In today’s episode of the History of Literature, Jacke and Mike look at a contemporary classic story, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Third and Final Continent.” Along the way, they discuss the tropes of immigrant fiction, the pros and cons of epiphany stories, and whether a story is a “city” or “an old friend.” (Yes, that’s another one of Mike’s special theories.)

JHUMPA LAHIRI was born in 1967 in London, England, the daughter of Bengali Indian emigrants. She moved to the United States when she was two years old and grew up in Rhode Island. A graduate of Boston University, she began writing and publishing her stories of first-generation Indian-American immigrants in the 1990s. Her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, was a huge critical and commercial success, selling over 15 million copies and earning Lahiri the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

NOTE: This is a self-contained episode of The History of Literature, in which both the story and a discussion of it are provided. No prior reading necessary (unless you’d like to)!

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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The History of Literature #164 – Karl Marx

LOGO-COVERS

Karl Marx (1818-1883) turned his early interest in literature and philosophy into a lifelong study of the socioeconomic forces unleashed by the rise of capitalism. His works The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, among others, influenced the course of the twentieth century like few others. But who was Karl Marx? How did his ideas become so widespread? And how did his thinking and writing impact literature? We’ll talk about Karl Marx and Marxist Literary Theory with Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, who has spent more than twenty years reading literary theory as an amateur enthusiast.

Mike’s recommendations:

  • “Ideological and Ideological State Apparatuses” by Louis Althusser
  • Mythologies by Roland Barthes
  • Debt:  The First 5,000 Years by Daniel Graeber
  • The Political Unconscious by Fredric Jameson
  • Utopia or Bust by Benjamin Kunkel
  • The Year of Dreaming Dangerously by Slavoj Zizek
  • What is to be Done? by Vladimir Lenin

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #163 – Gabriel García Márquez (with Sarah Bird)

In this episode, Jacke welcomes author Sarah Bird to the program to talk about her background, her writing, and her readerly passion for the fiction of the great twentieth-century novelist, Gabriel García Márquez.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ (1927-2014) was one of the most revered and influential novelists of the twentieth century. Born in a small town in Colombia, which he later made famous as the fictionalized village “Macondo,” he drew upon the stories and storytelling styles of his grandparents and parents to formulate what came to be called “magical realism.” His books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera have sold tens of millions of copies and stand as a testament to the power of fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

SARAH BIRD is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Award for Distinguished Writers, and a six-time winner of the Austin Chronicle’s Best Fiction Writer Award. Her most recent novel, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, tells the story of Cathy Williams, a former slave who disguised herself as a man in order to fight alongside the Buffalo Soldiers.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

 

162 Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was one of the most famous American writers of the twentieth century. His plain, economical prose style–inspired by journalism and the King James Bible, with an assist from the Cezannes he viewed in Gertrude Stein’s apartment–became a hallmark of modernism and changed the course of American literature. In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at an author and novel, The Sun Also Rises (1927), they’ve been reading and discussing for decades.

Want more Hemingway? We took a new look at an old argument in Episode 47 Hemingway vs Fitzgerald.

Love everything about the Lost Generation? Spend some time with the coiner of the phrase in Episode 127 Gertrude Stein.

Rather be tramping through Europe? Try Episode 157 Travel Books (with Mike Palindrome).

Looking for Irving’s New Yorker piece? Visit Literature’s Great Couples on Tinder.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

161 Voltaire

Voltaire was born Francois Marie Arouet in 1694 in Paris, France, the son of a respectable but not particularly eminent lawyer. By the time he died at the age of 83, he was widely regarded as one of the greatest French writers in history, a distinction he still holds today. Astoundingly prolific, he is best known as the author of Candide – but the stories of his life, including the scrapes brought about by his fearless tongue, are perhaps at least as fascinating as anything his razor-sharp pen committed to paper.

Enjoy French literature? Travel to the nineteenth century and visit another incredibly prolific author in Episode 152 George Sand.

Not a Sand fan? Maybe you’d prefer Episode 79 – Music That Melts the Stars – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

In love with Paris? Maybe you’d like to try our Episode 127 – Gertrude Stein.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #159 – Herman Melville

LOGO-COVERS

Today, Herman Melville (1819-1891) is considered one of the greatest of American writers, and a leading candidate for THE American novelist thanks to his classic work, Moby-Dick. How did this unpromising student become one of the most inventive and observant writers of his time? What obstacles did he face, and what did he do to overcome them? What other works of his are worth reading? Jacke, Mike, and special guest Cristina, aka The Classics Slacker, who recently spent 24 hours aboard the Charles W. Morgan listening to the novel being read, take a look at this fascinating man and his whale of a book.

Enjoy 19th-Century American authors? Try Episode 90, Mark Twain’s Final Request.

Wondering how Melville got his ideas? Learn more about one of his inspirations in Episode 111 – The Americanest American, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ready for more adventure? Try Episode 82 – Robinson Crusoe.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #156 – The Sonnet

“A sonnet,” said the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “is a moment’s monument.” But who invented the sonnet? Who brought it to prominence? How has it changed over the years? And why does this form continue to be so compelling? In this episode of the History of Literature, we take a brief look at one of literature’s most enduring forms, from its invention in a Sicilian court to the wordless sonnet and other innovative uses.

Professor Bill walked us through a sonnet by Robert Hayden in Episode 97 – Dad Poetry (with Professor Bill).

One of the world’s great sonneteers, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, had her moment in Episode 95 – The Runaway Poets – The Triumphant Love Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the lovers whose first words to one another magically form a perfect sonnet, found one another in Episode 53 – Romeo and Juliet.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.