Podcast

The Book Club

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

The Book Club

Terry Hayes: The Year of the Locust

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is Terry Hayes, author of the squillion-selling thriller I Am Pilgrim. He tells me about invisible submarines, taking advice on crucifixion from Mel Gibson, and why it took him ten years to follow up that first novel with his new book The Year of the Locust.

Play 34 mins

The Book Club

Jonathan Lethem: Brooklyn Crime Novel

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by the novelist Jonathan Lethem. Two decades after his breakthrough book The Fortress of Solitude crowned Lethem the literary laureate of Brooklyn, he returns to the borough’s never-quite-gentrified streets with the new Brooklyn Crime Novel. He tells me why he felt the need to go back, and talks about race,

Play 51 mins

The Book Club

Nicholas Shakespeare: The Complete Man

In this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is Nicholas Shakespeare, author of Ian Fleming: The Complete Man. He tells me about the astonishing secret life of a writer whose adventures in espionage were more than the equal of his creation’s; and about the damaged childhood and serially broken heart of a man far kinder and

Play 52 mins

The Book Club

Peter Biskind: Pandora’s Box

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the film writer Peter Biskind. In his new book Pandora’s Box, he tells the story of what’s sometimes called “Peak TV” – and how a change in business model (from network to cable to streaming) unlocked an extraordinary era of artistic innovation, and uncovered an unexpected

Play 40 mins

The Book Club

Sandra Newman: Julia

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the novelist Sandra Newman, whose new book Julia retells George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from Julia’s point of view. We discuss the spaces Orwell’s classic left for her own novelistic imagination, what we do and don’t know about the world of Big Brother, and whether the misogyny in Orwell’s original belongs

Play 38 mins

The Book Club

Celebrating Watership Down

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re celebrating 50 years of a unique classic – Richard Adams’s Watership Down – and its forthcoming adaptation in graphic novel form. I’m joined by Richard Adams’s two daughters Juliet and Rosamund, who tell me how a story that their dad started telling them to beguile a long car journey became

Play 33 mins

The Book Club

Caspar Henderson: A Book of Noises

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Caspar Henderson, whose new book A Book of Noises: Notes on the Auraculous really is a journey into sound. He tells me why the music of the spheres – at least in this solar system – is a terrible racket, what we can learn from whale earwax, and

Play 47 mins

The Book Club

Mary Beard: Emperor of Rome

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the writer, broadcaster and academic Mary Beard. In her new book, Emperor of Rome, she explores what we can and can’t know about the men who ruled the Roman Empire, and what the lurid stories about so many of them tell us about the anxieties and fantasies

Play 48 mins

The Book Club

Sarah Ogilvie: The Dictionary People

In this week’s Book Club podcast I’m talking to Sarah Ogilvie about the extraordinary story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, as told in her new The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary. She tells me why the OED was different in kind from any previous English dictionary, how

Play 45 mins

The Book Club

Francesca Peacock: Pure Wit

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by Francesca Peacock to talk about the remarkable life and extraordinary work of Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century Duchess of Newcastle. Famous in her own day for her bizarre public appearances and nicknamed ‘Mad Madge’, the author of The Blazing World has been marginalised by posterity as an eccentric dilettante.

Play 45 mins

The Book Club

From The Archives: Masha Gessen

The Book Club podcast returns next week. In the meantime, here’s another from the archives, and one which looks more timely now even than it was when we recorded it in 2017. Here’s perhaps Russia’s most prominent dissident writer, Masha Gessen, talking about their book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

Play 24 mins

The Book Club

From The Archives: Tom Holland

As Sam is still away, we’ve dug out one our favourite podcasts from the archives. Back in 2019 Sam spoke to the historian Tom Holland, about his book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind. The book, though as Tom remarks, you might not know it from the cover, is essentially a history of Christianity and

Play 45 mins

The Book Club

Celia Brayfield: Writing Black Beauty

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the journalist and author Celia Brayfield whose new book Writing Black Beauty: Anna Sewell and the story of animal rights, takes us back to the 19th century. Celia describes how Anna Sewell’s writing of the Black Beauty book ultimately led to the kinder treatment of horses, and we both recall

Play 45 mins

The Book Club

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen: The Wolf Hunt

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the novelist and psychologist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, whose gripping new book The Wolf Hunt tells the story of an Israeli-American mother who finds herself wondering whether her teenage son Adam could have been responsible for the death of a classmate. She tells me about using the thriller form as

Play 37 mins

The Book Club

James Ball: The Other Pandemic

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the investigative and tech writer James Ball, to talk about his new book The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World. In it, James traces the rise and disturbing metastasis of what he calls ‘the conspiracy theory that ate all the other conspiracy theories’, and argues that what

Play 56 mins

The Book Club

Ferdinand Mount: Big Caesars and Little Caesars

In this week’s Book Club podcast I’m joined by Ferdinand Mount who in his long career has been literary and political editor of this very magazine, as well as editor of the TLS and head of Margaret Thatcher’s Number Ten policy unit. We discuss his new book Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and

Play 40 mins

The Book Club

Caitlin Moran: What about men?

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Caitlin Moran. Having written one of the bestselling works of popular feminism of the last 20 years – How To Be A Woman – she has turned her attention to the other half of the population with her new book What About Men? I asked Caitlin why she felt she

Play 52 mins

The Book Club

Tom Whipple: The Battle of the Beams

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Tom Whipple, science editor of the Times and author of the gripping new book The Battle of the Beams: The secret science of radar that turned the tide of the Second World War. He describes the ingenious technological, psychological and espionage battles that made electromagnetic warfare a decisive –

Play 46 mins

The Book Club

Laura Cumming: Thunderclap

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the art critic Laura Cumming. Her new book Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life and Sudden Death talks about her fascination for the paintings of the Dutch 17th-century Golden Age, and in particular the entrancing work of the enigmatic Carel Fabritius. She tells me how her preoccupation

Play 50 mins

The Book Club

Andrew Pontzen: The Universe In A Box

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the cosmologist Andrew Pontzen. His The Universe In A Box: A New Cosmic History describes how we have learned to simulate first the weather, and then the universe itself – and how we discovered that those simulations don’t just mimic reality but allow us to learn new things

Play 53 mins

The Book Club

James Comey: Central Park West

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the former FBI director James Comey, who is making his debut as a thriller writer with an engrossing police procedural, Central Park West. Jim tells me how he mined his own early career as a prosecutor in the southern district of New York to produce this world

Play 32 mins

The Book Club

Peter Turchin: End Times

In this week’s Book Club podcast I talk to Peter Turchin about his new book End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration. He proposes a scientific theory of history, mapping the underlying forces that have led to the collapse of states from the ancient world to the present day, and warns of very turbulent

Play 48 mins

The Book Club

Laura Freeman: Ways of Life

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by the writer and critic Laura Freeman to talk about her book Ways of Life: Jim Ede and the Kettle’s Yard Artists. Laura’s book is the portrait of one of those figures who, without ever quite taking the spotlight themselves, was nevertheless hugely influential in kindling the love

Play 39 mins

The Book Club

In memory of Martin Amis

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we celebrate the life and weigh the literary reputation of Martin Amis, who died at the end of last week. I’m joined by the critic Alex Clark, the novelist John Niven, and our chief reviewer Philip Hensher – all of whom bring decades of close engagement with Amis’s work

Play 37 mins

The Book Club

Anthony Ossa-Richardson & Richard J Oosterhoff: The Cosmography and Geography of Africa

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re talking about a very new version of a very old book. Leo Africanus’s The Cosmography and Geography of Africa was the first book to introduce Africa to the people of Western Europe. Part Baedeker, part-natural history, part-memoir, part-history book, it dominated the Western understanding of that continent for hundreds of

Play 53 mins

The Book Club

Madeleine Bunting: The Seaside

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the writer Madeleine Bunting, whose new book is The Seaside: England’s Love Affair. She tells me how the great seaside resorts came into their 19th century pomp, how abrupt was their mid-century decline, and of the terrible desolation that has succeeded the idyll of donkey rides, ices and

Play 48 mins

The Book Club

Shehan Karunatilaka: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Shehan Karunatilaka, author of last year’s Booker Prize winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Shehan tells me about writing a novel whose protagonist is dead on page one, about putting the chaos of Sri Lanka’s long civil war on the page, and about the importance of

Play 38 mins

The Book Club

Michio Kaku: Quantum Supremacy

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. In his new book Quantum Supremacy, Prof Kaku explains how – as he sees it – the advent of quantum computers is going to turn the world as we know it on its head. He explains the extraordinary possibilities and perils of the

Play 57 mins

The Book Club

Luke Jennings: #PANIC

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Luke Jennings, the veteran reporter and novelist whose Codename Villanelle trilogy gave rise to the hit TV series Killing Eve. As his new thriller #PANIC is published he tells me how he found its inspiration after being drawn into the online fandom for Killing Eve, where he clashed with Phoebe Waller-Bridge… and

Play 40 mins

The Book Club

Frieda Hughes: A Magpie Memoir

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the poet and artist Frieda Hughes, whose new book George: A Magpie Memoir tells the story of what caring for a foundling baby magpie taught her about life. She tells me about chaos, head-bouncing, magpie-poop, and how she managed to write about corvids without imagining her father Ted

Play 40 mins