Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?
This week’s guest is Jesse McCarthy, professor at Harvard University and author of The Fugitivities. In this debut novel we follow Jonah Winters, a recent college grad and current teacher in New York City. Already disillusioned with teaching and unsure what to do next, he travels to Brazil after a chance encounter with a former NBA player. With nothing but his lived reality as a young Black man and the people he meets along the way, Jonah seeks to find what is missing in his life and in his sense of self.
For this episode, Jesse chose a novel he has long loved and enjoys teaching, Ralph Ellison’s 1952 masterpiece Invisible Man. In this picaresque, an unnamed narrator tells the story of his life in episodes, beginning with a harrowing graduation day, through his college years, and onto the streets of Harlem.This book shows us the many intersections of race and class and rings true even today.
Jesse discusses Invisible Man on a textual basis as well as how it hearkens back to African American history as well as the present. We discuss reader curiosity in the author’s life, writing across fiction and nonfiction, the role of the novel in an answer-seeking society, how Invisible Man may be the progenitor for the modern social thriller, and so much more. This episode has some mild spoilers, which are indicated at appropriate times during the episode.
The Palace of Illusions with Annika Sharma (Author of Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words) – Your Favorite Book
Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link above, and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.
Malavika Praseed is a writer, book reviewer, and genetic counselor. Her fiction has been published in Plain China, Cuckoo Quarterly, Re:Visions, and others. Her podcast, YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and various other platforms