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The Book Review

New York Times

The world's top authors and critics join host Gilbert Cruz and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world. Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at


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The world's top authors and critics join host Gilbert Cruz and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world. Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at




Zadie Smith on Her New Historical Novel

Zadie Smith’s new novel, “The Fraud,” is set in 19th-century England, and introduces a teeming cast of characters at the periphery of a trial in which the central figure claimed to be a long-lost nobleman entitled to a fortune. Smith discusses her new novel with Sarah Lyall. Also on this week’s episode, the Times reporters Alexandra Alter and Julia Jacobs discuss a recent controversy involving the National Book Awards and their decision to drop Drew Barrymore as this year’s master of ceremonies in solidarity with the Hollywood writers’ strike.


Elon Musk's Biography and Profiling Naomi Klein

Elon Musk, the billionaire South Africa-born entrepreneur whose business interests include the electric car company Tesla, the private rocket company SpaceX and the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), is the richest person in the world — and the subject of an expansive new biography by Walter Isaacson, whose earlier subjects famously include the Apple founder Steve Jobs. Our critic Jennifer Szalai discusses her review of the Musk biography. Szalai also discusses her recent Times Magazine profile of the writer and activist Naomi Klein, whose new book, “Doppelganger,” examines the “mirror world” of online conspiracy theories and paranoia and its effect on real-world politics.


Talking to Stephen King and September Books to Check Out

Stephen King’s new novel, “Holly,” is his sixth book to feature the private investigator Holly Gibney, who made her debut as a mousy side character in the 2014 novel “Mr. Mercedes” and has become more complicated and interesting with each subsequent appearance. King appears on the podcast this week to tell the host Gilbert Cruz about Holly’s hold on his imagination and the ways she overlaps with parts of his own personality. Along the way, he also tells a dad joke, remembers his friend Peter Straub, and discusses his views on writing and life. Also on this episode, Cruz talks with Joumana Khatib about some of the month’s most anticipated new titles. Here are the books discussed in this week’s September preview: “The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith “Elon Musk,” by Walter Isaacson “The Iliad,” by Homer. Translated by Emily Wilson “Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier,” by Marisa Meltzer “Land of Milk and Honey,” by C. Pam Zhang “American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15,” by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson


Amor Towles Sees Dead People

The novelist Amor Towles, whose best-selling books include “Rules of Civility,” “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “The Lincoln Highway,” contributed an essay to the Book Review recently in which he discussed the evolving role the cadaver has played in detective fiction and what it says about the genre’s writers and readers. Towles visits the podcast this week to chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about that essay, as well as his path to becoming a novelist after an early career in finance. Also on this week’s episode, Sarah Lyall, a writer at large for The Times, interviews the actor Richard E. Grant about his new memoir, “A Pocketful of Happiness,” and about his abiding love for the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


What to Read in August

Sarah Lyall discusses a new thriller in which a scuba diver gets swallowed by a sperm whale and Joumana Khatib gives recommendations for five August titles. Books discussed on this week's episode: “Anansi’s Gold: The Man Who Looted the West, Outfoxed Washington, and Swindled the World,” by Yepoka Yeebo “The Bee Sting,” by Paul Murray “The Visionaries: Arendt, Beauvoir, Rand, Weil, and the Power of Philosophy in Dark Times,” by Wolfram Eilenberger “Pet,” by Catherine Chidgey “Happiness Falls,” by Angie Kim “Whalefall,” by Daniel Kraus


Ann Patchett on Her Summery New Novel

Ann Patchett returns to the podcast to talk about her new novel, "Tom Lake," waxes poetic on Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" (which plays a big part in her book), and talks about the joys of owning an independent bookstore.


It's Getting Hot Out There

The author Jeff Goodell joins to talk about his book “The Heat Will Kill You First,” about the consequences of a warming planet. Times critic Jennifer Szalai also discusses three books about the natural world.


Colson Whitehead and His Crime Novel Sequel

Gilbert Cruz is joined by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, who talks about his novel "Crook Manifesto" and Harlem in the '70s. He also reflects on his famous post-9/11 essay about New York City.


Great Books from The First Half of 2023

Gilbert Cruz is joined by fellow editors from the Book Review to revisit some of the most popular and most acclaimed books of 2023 to date. First up, Tina Jordan and Elisabeth Egan discuss the year’s biggest books, from “Spare” to “Birnam Wood.” Then Joumana Khatib, MJ Franklin and Sadie Stein recommend their personal favorites of the year so far. Books discussed on this week’s episode: “Spare,” by Prince Harry “I Have Some Questions for You,” by Rebecca Makkai “Pineapple Street,” by Jenny Jackson “Romantic Comedy,” by Curtis Sittenfeld “You Could Make This Place Beautiful,” by Maggie Smith “The Wager,” by David Grann “Master, Slave, Husband, Wife,” by Ilyon Woo “King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig “Birnam Wood,” by Eleanor Catton “Hello Beautiful,” by Ann Napolitano “Enter Ghost,” by Isabella Hammad “Y/N,” by Esther Yi “The Sullivanians,” by Alexander Stille “My Search for Warren Harding,” by Robert Plunket “In Memoriam,” by Alice Winn “Don’t Look at Me Like That,” by Diana Athill


The Magic of Literary Translation and 'Bridget Jones' at 25

The editors of The Book Review talk about the nitty gritty of literary translation. And then, a conversation about the legacy of the novel “Bridget Jones’s Diary." What makes translation an art? How does a translator’s personality affect their work? Why do we see so many translations from some countries and almost none from others? These are just some of the questions addressed in a recent translation issue of the Book Review, which Gilbert Cruz breaks down with the editors Juliana Barbassa and Gregory Cowles. Also on this week’s episode, Elisabeth Egan and Tina Jordan discuss “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” published in the U.S. 25 years ago this summer. “I discovered, looking back at back into Bridget’s life on the eve of my 50th birthday, she was not as funny to me as she used to be,” says Egan, who wrote an essay about the novel called “Bridget Jones Deserved Better. We All Did.”


Remembering Cormac McCarthy and Robert Gottlieb

Recently, two giants of modern American literature died within a single day of each other. Gilbert Cruz talks with Dwight Garner about the work of Cormac McCarthy’s work, and with Pamela Paul and Emily Eakin about the life and legacy of Robert Gottlieb.


What It’s Like to Write an MLK Jr. Biography

Jonathan Eig’s book “King: A Life” is the first comprehensive biography in decades of Martin Luther King Jr., drawing on reams of interviews and newly uncovered archival materials to paint a fuller picture of the civil rights leader than we have received before. On this week’s podcast, Eig describes the process of researching and writing the book, and tells the host Gilbert Cruz how he tracked down resources that were unavailable to earlier biographers. “I was a newspaper reporter for a long, long time — and you know, working on daily stories, if you got five days to work on a story, it was a luxury. Now I’ve got five, six years to work on a story, and I take full advantage of that," Eig says. "It took me two years to find, even though I knew it was out there, this unpublished autobiography that Martin Luther King’s father wrote. Nobody had ever quoted from it. ... Stuff like that just gets me really, really pumped up.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Summer Book Preview and 9 Thrillers to Read

There’s no rule that says you have to read thrillers in the summer — some people gobble them up them year round, while others avoid them entirely and read Kafka on the shore — but on a long, lazy vacation day it’s undeniably satisfying to grab onto a galloping narrative and see where it pulls you. This week, Gilbert Cruz talks to our thrillers columnist Sarah Lyall about some classics of the genre, as well as more recent titles she recommends. Also on this week’s episode, Joumana Khatib offers a preview of some of the biggest books to watch for in the coming season. Here are the books discussed in this week’s episode: “Rebecca,” by Daphne du Maurier “Presumed Innocent,” by Scott Turow “The Secret History,” by Donna Tartt “Going Zero,” by Anthony McCarten “What Lies in the Woods,” by Kate Alice Marshall “My Murder,” by Katie Williams “The Quiet Tenant,” by Clémence Michallon “All the Sinners Bleed,” by S.A. Cosby “Crook Manifesto,” by Colson Whitehead “Nothing Special,” by Nicole Flattery “Daughter of the Dragon,” by Yunte Huang “The Sullivanians,” by Aledxander Stille “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store,” by James McBride “Silver Nitrate,” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


On Reading ‘Beloved’ Over and Over Again

For readers, a book’s meaning can change with every encounter, depending on the circumstances and experiences they bring to it each time. On this week’s podcast, Gilbert Cruz talks to Salamishah Tillet, a Pulitzer-winning contributing critic at large for The Times, about her abiding love for Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” — in which a mother chooses to kill her own daughter rather than let her live in slavery — and about the ways that Tillet’s personal experiences have affected her view of the book. “I was sexually assaulted on a study abroad program in Kenya.” Tillet says. “And when I came back to the United States, I entered an experimental program that helped people who were sexual assault survivors, who were suffering from PTSD. Part of the process was like, you had to tell your story over and over again, because the idea was that the memory of the trauma is almost as visceral as the moment of the trauma. And so … looking at what Morrison does in her novel, she’s dealing with trauma and she’s moving, going back and forth in time. So I actually experienced this on a personal level.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Remembering Martin Amis

The writer Martin Amis, who died last week at the age of 73, was a towering figure of English literature who for half a century produced a body of work distinguished by its raucous wit, cutting intelligence and virtuosic prose. On this week’s podcast, Gilbert Cruz talks with The Times’s critics Dwight Garner (who wrote Amis’s obituary for the paper) and Jason Zinoman (who co-hosts a podcast devoted to Amis’s career, “The Martin Chronicles”) about the life and death of a remarkable figure who was, as Garner puts it, “arguably the most slashing, articulate, devastatingly clear, pungent writer of the last 25 years of the past century and the first almost 25 of this century.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Essential Neil Gaiman and A.I. Book Freakout

Are you ready to dive in to the work of the prolific and inventive fantasy writer Neil Gaiman? On this week’s episode, the longtime Gaiman fan J.D. Biersdorfer, an editor at the Book Review, talks with the host Gilbert Cruz about Gaiman’s work, which she recently wrote about for our continuing “Essentials” series. Also this week, Cruz talks with the Times critic Dwight Garner about “The Death of the Author,” a murder mystery that the novelist Stephen Marche wrote with the assistance of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence programs. Is A.I. in fact a harbinger of doom for creative writers? Here are the books discussed in this week’s episode: “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman “Good Omens,” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett “Stardust,” by Neil Gaiman “Coraline,” by Neil Gaiman “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” by Neil Gaiman “The Sandman,” by Neil Gaiman “The Hyphenated Family,” by Hermann Hagedorn “Monsters,” by Claire Dederer “The Death of the Novel,” by Aidan Marchine We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Pulitzer Winners

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday, bestowing one of America’s most prestigious awards in journalism and the arts on writers across a range of categories. Among the winners were three authors who had also appeared on the Book Review’s list of the 10 Best Books of 2022: the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu, for his memoir “Stay True,” and two novelists who (in a first for the Pulitzers) shared the prize in fiction, Barbara Kingsolver for “Demon Copperhead” and Hernan Diaz for “Trust.” On this week’s episode, Hsu and Diaz chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about their books and what it’s like to win a Pulitzer. “I wish I had a more articulate thing to say, but it was just truly weird,” Hsu tells Cruz about learning he was the inaugural winner in the memoir category. (Before this year, memoirs were judged alongside biographies.) “It was a thrill, but it was also just truly a weird out-of-body experience.” For Diaz, the Pulitzer announcement came while he was at a fried chicken and waffle restaurant in South Carolina, where he was on tour to promote his book’s paperback release. “I totally lost it,” he says. “I had to go out and, I’m a little bit embarrassed to confess it but I was weeping sitting on the curb. And these three lovely older ladies come by and they ask me, Oh sweetheart, honey, are you OK? I’m not exactly sure what I said, but I shared the good news with them and suddenly all four of us were hugging in the middle of the street. So it was a good moment.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Book Bans and What to Read in May

Book-banning efforts remain one of the biggest stories in the publishing industry, and on this week’s episode of the podcast, our publishing reporters Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth Harris chat with the host Gilbert Cruz about the current state of such attempted bans and how they differ from similar efforts in the past. “It is amazing to see both the upward trend in book bans but also the ways that the process of getting bans has evolved,” Alter says. “This has happened really quickly. … We’ve seen a lot of the book bans that have taken place in the last couple of years coming from either organized groups or from new legislation, which is a big shift from what librarians had tracked in the past, where they would see usually just a couple hundred attempts to ban books each year. And most of those were from concerned parents who had seen what their kid was reading in class or what their kid brought home from the public library. And usually those disputes were resolved quietly. Now you have people standing up in school board meetings reading explicit passages aloud.” Also on this week’s episode, Joumana Khatib takes a look at some of the biggest new books to watch for this month. Here are the books discussed in this week’s episode: “Chain-Gang All-Stars,” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah “King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig “Quietly Hostile,” by Samantha Irby “Yellowface,” by R.F. Kuang We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


Eleanor Catton on ‘Birnam Wood’

Eleanor Catton’s new novel, “Birnam Wood,” is a rollicking eco-thriller that juggles a lot of heady themes with a big plot and a heedless sense of play — no surprise, really, from a writer who won Britain’s prestigious Man Booker Prize for her previous novel, “The Luminaries,” and promptly established herself as a leading light in New Zealand’s literary community. On this week’s podcast, Catton tells the host Gilbert Cruz how that early success affected her writing life (not much) as well as her life outside of writing (her marriage made local headlines, for one thing). She also discusses her aims for the new book and grapples with the slippery nature of New Zealand’s national identity. “You very often hear New Zealanders defining their country in the negative rather than in the positive,” she says. “If you ask somebody about New Zealand culture, they’ll begin by describing something overseas and then they’ll just say, Oh, well, we’re just not like that. … I think that that’s solidified over time into this kind of very odd sense of supremacy, actually. It’s born out of an inferiority complex, but like many inferiority complexes, it manifests as a superiority complex.” A word of warning, for listeners who care about plot spoilers: Toward the end of their conversation, Catton and Cruz talk about the novel’s climactic scene and some of the questions it raises. So if you’re a reader who prefers to be taken by surprise, you may want to finish “Birnam Wood” before you finish this episode. We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to


David Grann on the Wreck of the H.M.S. Wager

David Grann is one of the top narrative nonfiction writers at work today; a staff writer at The New Yorker, he has previously combined a flair for adventure writing with deep historical research in acclaimed books including “The Lost City of Z” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” His latest, “The Wager,” applies those talents to a seafaring tale of mutiny and murder, reconstructing the fate of a lost British man-of-war that foundered on an island off the coast of Patagonia in the 18th century. On this week’s podcast, Grann tells the host Gilbert Cruz that one of the things that most drew him to the subject was the role that storytelling itself played in the tragedy’s aftermath. “The thing that really fascinated me, that really caused me to do the book,” Grann says, “was not only what happened on the island, but what happened after several of these survivors make it back to England. They have just waged a war against virtually every element, from scurvy to typhoons, to tidal waves, to shipwreck, to starvation, to the violence of their own shipmates. Now they get back to England after everything they’ve been through, and they are summoned to face a court marshal for their alleged crimes on the island. And if they don’t tell a convincing tale, they’re going to get hanged. I always think of that lovely line from Joan Didion, where she said we all tell ourselves stories in order to live — but in their case, it was quite literally true.” We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to