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Your Favorite Book with Jean Thompson

Your Favorite Book with Jean Thompson

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?

Our guest is Jean Thompson, author of many novels, former National Book Award finalist, and most recently the author of The Poet’s House. This book explores the sordid lives and falsehoods of poets in California through the eyes of a young admirer, a woman entrenched in blue-collar life but fascinated by poetry. The book takes on the blurred lines of mentorship, the elitism of poetry, and the differences between loving writing and writers themselves.

Jean chose a book first and foremost for its prose style, so unique and unlike a great deal of contemporary writing. James Agee’s A Death in the Family, his posthumous Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, takes the simple and magnifies it to Biblical proportions. The death of a family patriarch shatters the suburban ideals within, and we witness the internal and external carnage in one way or another.

This is our season finale, but Your Favorite Book will be back in mid-August with more interviews.

See Also

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi (with Belinda Huijuan Tang, Author of A Map for the Missing) Your Favorite Book

We're back for a new season! Our guest this week is Belinda Huijuan Tang, author of the debut novel A Map for the Missing. The novel spans time from the 1970s through the 1990s, in China as well as the United States, and centers family secrets and miscommunication along with the impact of pursuing one's dreams. What does it mean to live a life of knowledge, and how easy is it to achieve that path? Belinda chose Wang Anyi's The Song of Everlasting Sorrow as her favorite book. Written in 1995 and translated from Chinese, this novel spans four decades in the life of Wang Qiyao, a former beauty queen who lives a life of heartbreak in both old and new Shanghai. The book is dense, complex, but also deliciously petty and joyful in its depictions of Wang Anyi's hometown. As always, no spoilers! Books discussed: Siren Queen by Nghi Vo, Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro Buy Belinda's book: Follow the podcast on instagram and twitter @yfbpodcast
  1. The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi (with Belinda Huijuan Tang, Author of A Map for the Missing)
  2. A Death in the Family by James Agee (with Jean Thompson, Author of The Poet's House)
  3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (with Natalka Burian, Author of The Night Shift)
  4. The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp (with Morgan Talty, Author of Night of the Living Rez)
  5. Short Story Book Club: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (with Anna Johnson)

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. Reviews on Apple Podcasts and other platforms are also very much appreciated.

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