Fiction

Peter Biello / NHPR

In the late 1880s, rail was creeping across western America, connecting towns and changing lives. The west was still relatively wild in those days, and that Wild West is the setting of the new young adult novel by Erin Bowman. Retribution Rails is the story of a young man caught up with a band of cold-hearted killers and thieves and the young woman who aspires to write for a newspaper, any paper, and prove that she can write just as well, if not better, than any man out there. Erin Bowman spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

Speculative fiction is a genre that takes us into a previously unimagined world - a world that, with a few plausible tweaks, becomes utopian, dystopian, or something else entirely. 

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth Colllege is announcing the establishment of the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards, a global program to honor works of speculative fiction. 

Daniel Rockmore, director of the institute, joins Peter Biello to talk about the awards.

Listen to the interview:

What & How Teenagers Are Reading Today

Aug 28, 2017

Our Week of Summer Favorites continues with a look at teen reading. Smartphones, e-readers, and other internet-based content, like Twitter and Facebook, are changing how and what teenagers read. And despite the image of adolescents with their faces in their phones, it turns out young adult fiction is among the most successful types of books on the market.

  This show originally aired on June 12, 2017.

Richard Phibbs

Michael Cunningham is best known as the author of The Hours, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, which imagines a fateful day in the life of Virginia Woolf and its modern parallels.

But he's a man of many genres - he's also co-written a screenplay, walked readers through Provincetown, Mass with a travelogue, and turned fairy tales on their heads, as he does in his recent collection of short fiction, A Wild Swan and Other Tales.

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Author, outspoken vegetarian, social media abstainer and writing teacher Jonathan Safran Foer is author of three novels: Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and, most recently, Here I Am, which follows four generations of a Jewish family grappling with identity, connection and disaster. His nonfiction book about factory farming, Eating Animals, was also a New York Times best-seller.

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Anita Shreve had a small, but devoted following as a literary author when her second novel, The Pilot's Wife was named an Oprah Book Club pick. The recognition propelled her into a New York Times bestselling novelist. Two days after her 18th novel, The Stars Are Fire, was released, she canceled her extensive book tour, later writing on her Facebook page that she would be undergoing chemotherapy.  

This most recent novel uses wildfires that raged through coastal Maine in 1947 as the backdrop for the story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Ben Winters is a little incomprehensible. Not his output, which is consistently great, but his wild imagination and range. He's a teacher, a playwright, an Edgar and Phillip K. Dick Award-winning novelist, he's written children's books, an existential detective series and landed a New York Times bestseller with the Jane Austen-meets-the-kraken mash-up, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Nathaniel Boesch

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered host Peter Biello features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

Victoria Schwab... V.E. Schwab... V... the author's name depends on her audience, which, like the dark worlds she builds, is a well-thought out design.

Ms. Schwab, we'll say, burst onto the scene in 2011 with The Near Witch. A dozen books later, adult, young adult and middle grade readers have followed her into supernatural worlds, sinister scenarios and richly formed fantasy worlds.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Ottessa Moshfegh says she writes to explore why people do weird things. The daughter of a Croatian mother and Iranian father, she was a serious piano student who knew she didn't want to be a pianist when she felt the call to write - and not just write, but be bold.

We spoke to her before her reading at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.

Episode Music: Kevin MacLeod, "Trio for Piano, Violin and Viola"
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Writers on a New England Stage: Daniel Silva

Aug 1, 2016
David J. Murray / cleareyephoto.com

Daniel Silva was a journalist based in the Middle East before he published his first novel in 1996. That story, The Unlikely Spy hit the New York Times best-sellers list and introduced the world to Gabriel Allons -- a Mossad assassin turned art restorer. Now 16 novels into the series, Allons is known as "The Jewish James Bond" and has joined the pantheon of legendary fictional spies that includes George Smiley, Jack Ryan, and Jason Bourne.

Richard Russo is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool - both were adapted into films starring Paul Newman. He returns to the fictional working class town of North Bath for his most recent novel, Everybody's Fool.

We sat down with him on the darkened stage of an eerily empty theater before an extended interview at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH.

M. Sharkey

Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So I was chatting recently with the author Diane Les Becquets about one night when she was hunting with a bow and arrow in the backwoods of Colorado.

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered host Peter Biello features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Anne Rice

Aug 24, 2015
© David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with author Anne Rice who reinvented a genre when she published Interview with the Vampire nearly 40 years ago.

The Bookshelf: Short Story Writer Robin McLean

Jul 3, 2015
Robert McLean

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered host Peter Biello interviews authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves.

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

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Serving today’s ultra-rich may not be so much about finicky Downton Abbey-esque table settings, but it often involves lots of unexpected duties. On today’s show, we’ll talk to a writer who enrolled at the nation’s foremost “Butler Boot Camp,” where students learn to navigate the whims and habits of today’s elite. Then, the story of Sylvester Graham and his signature snack: the graham cracker, which was borne out of philosophy that promoted chastity, temperance, and the prohibition of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and spices. All of which could excite our animal desires. 

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Disasters in developing nations bring out the better angels of foreign governments and world citizens, but not all aid, or media coverage, is distributed equally. On today’s show we discover why the world’s worst disasters don’t always get the most aid.

Then, if you’ve ever binge-watched a show until you feel sick, you may be suffering from: “shoverdose”.  Check your phone obsessively? Well, you may be “figital”. Later in the show, the joys of made-up words.

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Once relegated to fanzines and the occasional bookstore, “fan fiction” is quickly becoming more accessible, more mainstream, and in some cases, more of a headache for authors who inspired the fans in the first place. On today’s show, why some authors are bucking against the trend.

Then, the days of the charity 5k may be over. Despite an improving economy, many of the biggest charity races are reporting drops in participation and funds raised. We’ll find out why adventure races like Tough Mudder may be to blame.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments. 

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It’s presented as the be-all end- all metric by economists, politicians, and newscasters, but what exactly is GDP? 

On today’s show, the surprisingly fascinating process of measuring gross domestic product, and what this all important economic indicator overlooks.

Plus, the non-profit “Mars One” received over 200,000 applicants for its one way mission to Mars. A new short documentary follows three of the candidates as they vie for a trip they’ll never return from and a place in the history books.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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It’s September, put down that beach novel, it's time to get serious about your to-be-read list. Thankfully, fall is the biggest season in the publishing world, so there's plenty of titles to choose from. Michele Filgate, freelance writer, critic, and independent bookseller at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn brings us her must read list for early fall. Click on the book titles for more information.

Carl Hiassen's "Bad Monkey"

Jun 26, 2014

Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Carl Hiassen, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Hiassen joined Virginia on stage last June to talk about “Bad Monkey,” a volume of comic crime fiction. It is now available in paperback

Photo of Nicholson Baker courtesy the Poetry Foundation

Author Nicholson Baker joins us to talk about his recurring character Paul Chowder. The procrastinating poet first tuned up in Baker's novel The Anthologist, and is now the center of his latest book, Traveling Sprinkler.

This month All Things Considered has been talking with authors who write in or about New Hampshire.

We conclude the series with D.M. Cataneo. His new novel Eggplant Alley tells the story of Nicky Martini, a 13 year old growing up in a run-down New York City neighborhood during the turbulent year of 1970.

D.M. Cataneo talks about the book with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson.

This month All Things Considered has been been talking with authors who write in or about New Hampshire.

Today’s guest writes in the Granite State, but her book is definitely not set here.

It’s a dark fantasy novel set in an alternate version of 14th century England, with sorcery, battles, and plenty of blood.

It’s called Elisha Barber, and the author is E.C. Ambrose, who joins host Brady Carlson in the studio to talk about the book.

Between 1978 and 1988, the murders of seven women in New Hampshire and Vermont were attributed to the “Connecticut River Valley Killer”. Investigations of several suspects, and one deathbed confession went cold, and the killer was never found. Novelist Joseph Olshan’s “Cloudland,” is a fictionalized crime thriller based on the case. We spoke to Joe Olshan last spring when the book was released, now, it’s out in paperback. He lived in the upper valley when the sixth and final victim was found, and he explained what, as an outsider, he saw happen to local residents.

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Most of us read 1984 and Lord of the Flies in high school, but the new dystopian novel has grown in popularity beyond the required reading list to include a new generation of young fans.  David Sobel looks at the legion of apocryphal novels set in worlds devastated by wars and environmental collapse now aimed at teens as emblematic of a rising tide of hopelessness. He is a member of the senior faculty at Antioch New England, and his article “Feed the Hunger” was published in the November-December issue of Orion magazine.


Next week the band Level3 will perform at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton - despite the fact that Level3 is a fictional band.

Confused yet? Not to worry – it’s all part of a new young adult novel called Reunited, in which three young women drive from New England to Texas to see the one-night-only reunion concert of their once-favorite band, Level 3.

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