The PEN/Faulkner Podcast Series
Welcome to the home of the PEN/Faulkner Podcast, which showcases author events from our annual Reading Series, as well as occasional clips from our archives.
Click on the links below to hear or download the podcast series.
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Edna O’Brien at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
Moderated by PEN/Faulkner Board Director Emeritus Stephen Goodwin
Edna O’Brien has been hailed as the doyenne of Irish literature. From the beginning of her career, O’Brien broke literary ground, writing openly about female sexuality in her first novel, The Country Girls. The book was lauded by critics and banned by the Irish Censorship Board. The idea that women had sex lives was, at that time, an obscene notion.
In the half century that’s followed, O’Brien has become one of the most celebrated writers in the English language. She’s received the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, and honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. O’Brien joined Stephen Goodwin at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue to discuss her latest novel The Little Red Chairs – her “masterpiece,” says Philip Roth – and to share her singular genius with us.
Episode 51 – Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison
I Feel Your Pain: An Evening with Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison
Moderated by PEN/Faulkner Board President Richard McCann
Mitchell S. Jackson’s novel The Residue Years, the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, is based on his own coming-of-age, in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood harrowed by the crack cocaine epidemic. Leslie Jamison’s widely-lauded essay collection The Empathy Exams starts with her own memories of working as a model patient for medical students and goes on to explore how we perceive other people’s pain. Both writers investigate the extremes of experience – their own and others’ – in dazzling fiction and essays.
Episode 50 – Celeste Ng & John Wray
Not Waving but Drowning: An Evening with Celeste Ng and John Wray
Moderated by Katy Waldman
A “perfect” daughter goes missing in an Ohio town in the 1970s; a schizophrenic teenaged boy escapes from a mental hospital to the New York subway. Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) and John Wray (Lowboy) joined us on February 23rd at the Folger Shakespeare Library to explore family secrets and expectations, adolescent yearning and the fascination with danger.
Episode 49 – Deborah Eisenberg
Episode 48 – Replacement Lives
Replacement Lives: An Evening with David Bezmozgis, Boris Fishman, and Lara Vapnyar, Moderated by Olga Grushin
This evening was co-hosted by the Washington, DC JCC.
David Bezmozgis, Boris Fishman, and Lara Vapnyar were all born in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and moved to North America as part of a wave of Jewish emigration. All three write about leaving behind a country that will soon disappear and a history that is continually being re-written. They joined us for a discussion of East and West, language and identity, the old Russia and the new.
David Bezmozgis is the author of the story collection Natasha and Other Stories and the novels The Free World and The Betrayers. His work has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and has been nominated for several awards, including the Governor General’s Award. He lives in Toronto.
Boris Fishman was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the author of the novel A Replacement Life and editor of Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.
Lara Vapnyar is the author of two story collections, There Are Jews in My House and Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, and the novels Memoirs of a Muse and The Scent of Pine. Her work has appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and Harper’s. She lives in Manhattan.