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Hunchback of Notre-Dame Special!

To celebrate the launch of our exclusive S&Co edition of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame—as well as a limited-edition gift bundle featuring a signed print of the beautiful cover art—Adam is joined by Krista Halverson, S&Co Publishing Director, and artist Neil Gower, to discuss this extraordinary classic of French literature.

Tom Mustill on How to Speak Whale

How to Speak Whale is an investigation into the possibility, or otherwise, of human cetacean dialogue. It looks into the history of our relationship with these creatures—in some important ways so similar to us, in others, so profoundly different. It lays out our various attempts to interpret their song, and looks at how big data, combined with an open source philosophy might allow us to create a “Google Translate for animals”.

Miriam Toews on Fight Night

Fight Night by Miriam Toews is a love letter to mothers and daughters, and grandmothers and granddaughters. Told from the perspective of nine-year-old Swiv, who’s having to deal with the imminent upheavals of the birth of a sibling and the declining health of her beloved grandma. With Swiv’s opening words — “Dear Dad, How are you? I was expelled.” — readers are drawn into the chaotic, ramshackle but love-and-life-filled world of this family. A world in which the only way through is to fight.

Jonathan Coe on Bournville

Bournville, Jonathan Coe’s latest novel, ostensibly follows the life of Mary Lamb (née Clarke) from VE Day 1945, when she was a precocious young pianist, to the darkest depths of the recent pandemic, stopping off at some of the events that helped define (and redefine) Britain over the last seven decades. As we hop from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, to the 1966 World Cup, through jubilees and the death of Princess Diana, we live not only alongside Mary, but also her parents, her husband, her children and grandchildren, (and in a wider sense the British people as a whole) seeing these events through their eyes, and feeling their sense of excitement or despair at the changes and upheavals in their world.

Billy-Ray Belcourt on A Minor Chorus

On Writing the Queer, Indigenous Experience with Billy-Ray Belcourt

This week we welcome celebrated poet Billy-Ray Belcourt to discuss his innovative and moving debut novel A Minor Chorus.

Coco Mellors on Cleopatra and Frankenstein

This week we were joined in the writer’s studio by Coco Mellors, author of one of our biggest selling novels of the year, Cleopatra and Frankenstein.

It’s the story of a woman and a man—Cleo and Frank—who meet in New York on New Year’s Eve 2006, who fall in love despite—or perhaps because of—their very many differences, and whose marriage within months causes not only an earthquake in their own lives, but also sends disruptive aftershocks out into the lives of their friends and families. All of which makes Cleopatra and Frankenstein one of the most devilishly readable debuts of the year.

Sunday Poetry with Mark Polizzotti

Poet, prodigy, precursor, punk: the short, precocious, uncompromisingly rebellious career of the poet Arthur Rimbaud is one of the legends of modern literature.In this essential volume, renowned translator Mark Polizzotti offers authoritative and inspired new versions of Rimbaud’s major poems and letters, including generous selection of Illuminations and the entirety of his lacerating confession A Season in Hell—capturing as never before not only the meaning but also the daredevil attitudes and incantatory rhythms that make Rimbaud’s works among the most perpetually modern of his or any other generation.

William Boyd, The Romantic

No writer does the life-spanning novel in such a devilishly entertaining yet thought-provoking way as this week’s guest, William Boyd. His new book, The Romantic, follows the meandering, fortune-making-and-fortune-losing story of Cashel Greville Ross who travels the world, embarks on adventures, and falls in love, all across the nineteenth century. Often passionate, sometimes reckless, always psychologically fascinating, Cashel Greville Ross is both a man of his time and perhaps, in certain ways, a hero for our age.

Annie Ernaux, Nobel Prize in Literature

In October 2018 we were honoured to welcome Annie Ernaux to Shakespeare and Company. In conversation with Adam Biles (and interpreter Alice Heathwood), she discussed her masterpiece The Years. To celebrate Annie Ernaux being chosen as the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature we are releasing the recording of that evening as a bonus podcast today.

On Transcendence, Parental Failure & writing Indiana, with Tess Gunty

The Rabbit Hutch is a low-cost housing complex in the post-industrial town of Vacca Vale, Indiana. It’s home to a mix of generations and familial constellations—couples, singletons, roommates—whose lives ebb and flow according to the economic and social forces that surround them, as well as the deeper-flowing currents of their pasts.

Disorientation: A Wild Satire of 21st-Century Campus Life, with Elaine Hsieh Chou

This week we welcome former S&Co bookseller, Elaine Hsieh Chou, to discuss Disorientation, a campus novel retooled for the 21st century. Disorientation rushes headlong into some of the most fractious debates that are animating college campuses across the world: systemic injustice in academia, freedom of expression, and safe spaces, not forgetting the specific obstacles and prejudices faced by Asian Americans as they work to get a foothold on the academic ladder.

Time Travel, Autofiction & Never-ending Book Tours, with Emily St John Mandel

Emily St John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility is a book of large scope—spanning more than four centuries—and even larger ideas. In fewer than 300 pages we take in pandemics, time travel and colonialism—of both lunar and early-20th Century varieties. What keeps our feet on solid ground is Emily St John Mandel’s elegant, light-touch prose, her almost preternatural gift for spinning a story, and perhaps above all else the convincing, compassionately-told human stories at its core.

Mohsin Hamid, The Last White Man

The Last White Man, Mohsin Hamid’s startling new novel, holds up a shattered mirror to readers, reflecting back a recognisable, but heightened and reconfigured version of our world.

When Young Stalin came to London, with Stephen May

This week’s guest is Stephen May whose fifth novel, Sell Us the Rope is a fictional retelling of events surrounding the 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour party, which took place in London in 1907.

On Darkness, Fables and Heartbreak, with Vanessa Onwuemezi

A collection of seven extraordinary short stories, Vanessa Onwuemezi’s Dark Neighbourhood resists interpretation and elides description, shifting between voices and styles with astonishing deftness and grace. Spaces and territories are important to the book, how we inhabit them and how they shape us, as are attempts to understand how not just our minds, but our entire beings are affected when we pass from darkness into light, and back again.

Geoff Dyer on Roger Federer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sensing an Ending…

There are few people who can write so brilliantly, about so many subjects, all at once, as Geoff Dyer. The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings could be his most wide ranging to date. It’s about tennis—as the title suggests—and specifically about the curtain dropping on the career of one of the most successful, and most technically beautiful players, ever. But it’s also about endings of so many other kinds: the significance, or otherwise, of an artist’s last work; mental and intellectual decline; finishing and not finishing books; and why, perhaps, deep down, we really just long for everything to come to be over with...