11. ‘Gonged on Missy’

‘You always suppose you’re the heroine in the story of your life; the day you discover you’re the monster, it’s apt to come as a surprise’ Dol McQueen, ‘flash-girl’, 1862 Chris Hannan‘s dazzlingly accomplished first novel, Missy , is published today in the UK (in the US, it comes out in June from FSG). I […]

Continue Reading · 24 April 2008 · literature, podcasts

Aravind Adiga on ‘The autobiography of a half-baked Indian’

That’s how the narrator of Aravind Adiga’s debut novel reckons he should entitle his life story. Adiga’s narrator, Balram Halwai, believes he is half-baked because, like so many in India, he’s been unable to finish his schooling, and so his head is an ‘odd museum’ of half-cooked ideas. This is the head the reader is […]

Continue Reading · 14 April 2008 · literature

Here comes Clay Shirky

There’s an interesting podcast on the Penguin site featuring Clay Shirky, whose new book Here Comes Everybody has just come out. Shirky has been called ‘the finest thinker we have on the Internet revolution’. He runs the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, which brings together people from the worlds of the arts and technology. He […]

Continue Reading · 4 April 2008 · technology and communication

10. Fleeing Hitler – the story of the Paris exodus

On 14 June 1940 German tanks swept into Paris. That the city would fall to the Nazis was by then a foregone conclusion; it had been declared an ‘open city’ the day before. In other words, it would put up no resistance against the invaders. The government had already packed up and left. By 14 […]

Continue Reading · 27 March 2008 · history and politics, podcasts

9. Talking about animals

‘As soon as humans make images, they make them about humans and they make them about animals and the relationship between them.’ My guest on this week’s programme is Martin Kemp, Professor of the History of Art at Oxford, whose latest book, The Human Animal is a rich and thought-provoking study of the relationship between […]

Continue Reading · 20 March 2008 · art and music, history and politics, podcasts, science and philosophy

8. A Philosopher in Everytown

Philosophy can seem the most cerebral and abstract of disciplines. So what would happen if a philosopher stepped out of his study and ’embedded’ himself in an ordinary (but unfamiliar) community in his own country and tried to work out whether the English people have anything which could reasonably be called a philosophy? That’s exactly […]

Continue Reading · 14 March 2008 · history and politics, podcasts, science and philosophy

7. Russian Childhood

This week’s Podularity podcast features an interview with Catriona Kelly, who has just published a monumental new history of childhood in twentieth-century Russia. The book, Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia 1890-1991, draws not only on a vast amount of archival research but also on hundreds of interviews with Russians of all ages in which […]

Continue Reading · 15 February 2008 · history and politics, podcasts

Beslan: a photo-essay

This week, instead of a podcast, we have a photo-essay by Timothy Phillips, author of Beslan: the Tragedy of School No.1, which was the subject of our podcast on 15 November. Tim took these pictures in the spring following the terrorist attack. Here is how he describes the moment when, after a long overland journey […]

Continue Reading · 5 February 2008 · history and politics

6. Discovering Our Inner Ape

What aspects of our human character do we inherit from our fellow primates? Until recently, the answer would have been ‘all the bad bits’. Footage of chimpanzees killing their own kind influenced the view in the popular imagination that ‘killer’ and ‘ape’ were virtual synonyms. (more…)

Continue Reading · 10 January 2008 · podcasts, science and philosophy
zinovieff red princess

5. Sofka Zinovieff on the trail of the Red Princess

A few years ago Sofka Zinovieff became fascinated by the life of her grandmother and namesake, Sofka Dolgorouky, who was born into a noble family in imperial Russia exactly a century ago. Sofka had known her grandmother when she was already an old woman and, although she knew something of her colourful life, she was […]

Continue Reading · 6 December 2007 · biography and memoir, history and politics