Literary Friction

Literary Friction

A monthly conversation about books and ideas on NTS Radio hosted by friends Carrie Plitt, a literary agent, and Octavia Bright, a writer and academic. Each show features an author interview, book recommendations, lively discussion and a little music too, all built around a related theme - anything from the novella to race to masculinity. Listen live on NTS Radio www.nts.live

Episodes

December 19, 2023 81 mins
It's time for our usual Year in Review show, but seeing as this is also our last EVER episode (sob!), we're shaking things up a little to bring you a bit of a decade in review as well, so we can look back over our highlights from ten wonderful years of Literary Friction. This show is stuffed full of recommendations, including our favourite reads from this year and books we're looking forward to reading in 2024, but also the books...
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What does it mean, to pursue a life of your own? And what is art and literature's role in figuring out what that might look like? This month we're delighted to be talking to writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, whose latest book Radical: A Life of My Own is both a personal lexicon and a memoir, which thinks deeply about what it would mean to truly forge a life of one’s own. As we announced on our last minisode, we’re wrapping up Lite...
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November 16, 2023 47 mins
Our theme this month was suggested by our patron Maral, who asked us to do an episode about our friendship, because she’s interested in how our (very!) different personalities align. We thought it might be a little self-indulgent to spend a whole episode talking about us specifically, so we’re also going to return to the theme of friendship more broadly, and talk about some of our favourite books about friends. We also make a pret...
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November 2, 2023 59 mins
How do the people and things we desire shape our identities? And how do you render the physical intensity of desire on the page? Author K Patrick joins us in thinking about desire this month - we spoke to K about their debut novel Mrs. S, which tells the story of a young Australian who arrives at an elite English all-girls boarding school for a job and ends up having a life-changing affair with the headmaster's wife. It's a sensual...
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October 19, 2023 47 mins
Last year we made a minisode about mothers, and one about fathers, both of which began an ongoing conversation about parenthood and literature that we wanted to pick up this month. Is fiction a good form for exploring the experience of parenthood? And beyond the ubiquitous parenting manuals, what does non-fiction about parenthood have to offer? Adulthood lasts far longer than childhood, so what about books that look at parent-child...
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What is it about doppelgangers that's so endlessly compelling? Who better to answer this question than the one and only Naomi Klein, who joined us to talk about her latest book, Doppelganger. This riveting and intellectually rigorous journey begins with a mix-up: people kept confusing Naomi Klein with another Naomi, author Naomi Wolf (known for The Beauty Myth), who got lost in the world of right wing conspiracies during the pandem...
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September 21, 2023 46 mins
Our theme this month was suggested by our patron Mary, who asked us to talk about so-called 'sad girl novels', and it turns out we have some strong opinions! So, listen in as we get to grips with what the term 'sad girl' really means - is it just reductive and misogynistic, or is it getting at something? Was Madame Bovary the original literary sad girl? Is it simply a marketing term or has it become problematic trope in publishing?...
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What makes a brilliant short story? Are they better read as part of a collection or as a sharp shot on their own? How do you render fully formed characters in very few words? We're thrilled that this month, Arinze Ifeakandu joined us to talk about his short story collection Gods Children Are Little Broken Things, a beautiful, artful collection of nine short stories about queer lives and love in Nigeria. One of the great pleasures o...
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August 10, 2023 56 mins
We first aired this episode back in July 2019, and it was recorded in the studio when Ocean was on the international tour for his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. It’s a really rich and beautiful conversation, full of the kind of thoughtful insights Ocean is known for, but also a lightness and optimism that feels right for summer. And we also thought it would coincide nicely with the publication of Ocean’s latest book, a poet...
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Are you a techno-optimist or a techno-pessimist? Or even a total Luddite? Does Chat GPT excite you or completely freak you out? Our theme this month was suggested by our patron Elisse, who asked us to talk about Chat GPT in particular. We thought this was a great jumping off point for a bigger conversation about the relationship between art and technology, the moral panic that always accompanies developments in Artificial Intellige...
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Dark humour - do you love it or hate it? Do you find it cathartic or macho? Can humour ever be too dark, and is it a useful political tool? This month our guest is the one and only Lorrie Moore, who joined us to talk about her latest novel, I Am Homeless if This is Not My Home, a story about grief and ghosts and history that is equally funny as it is philosophical. It follows Finn, who in 2016 is visiting his dying brother in a hos...
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June 29, 2023 28 mins
Octavia has been away on her book tour, so today we’re bringing you a re-run of one of our earliest minisodes from April 2019. It was a fun one, inspired by a viral tweet about literary red flags, in which we got into books as cultural capital, literary snobbery, and whether it’s ever ok to judge a person by there reading habits. Plus, the usual cultural recommendations, which are all still accessible to you in some fom even though...
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From Pride and Prejudice to Detransition, Baby, the romcom can be an enduring source of great pleasure, fun and comfort. This month we’re thrilled to welcome the American writer Curtis Sittenfeld to talk about her latest novel Romantic Comedy, a smart and funny story about how love can upend all kinds of preconceptions and expectations. It also gave us the perfect opportunity to think about the possibilities of the genre more gener...
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Today’s show is an author special, and in the hot seat is our very own Octavia Bright. You probably know by now that Octavia’s first book This Ragged Grace is coming out - and is published today in fact! So Carrie couldn’t resist the chance to grill her about it. This Ragged Grace tells the story of Octavia's journey through recovery from alcohol addiction, and the parallel story of her father's descent into Alzheimer's. Looking ba...
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Do you like reading about writers? What does good writing about the act of writing do? And what happens when you write a real writer into a novel? Our guest this month is Tan Twan Eng, who joined us to talk about his third novel The House of Doors. Based around the writer W. Somerset Maugham’s stay on the Island of Penang, in what was then Malaya, in 1921, it's also about the stories he learns from the couple he stays with there, a...
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May 4, 2023 46 mins
How do you feel about cities? Do you love the thrust and thrum of them, or are you more interested in escaping it? Do you like to read urban histories, or stories set in the heady metropolis? Our theme this month was suggested by our patron Alycia, who asked us to talk about cities in literature, so listen in for our favourite literary cities, captivating cities we've only encountered in the pages of a book, plus all the usual reco...
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What's the relationship between feminist writing and feminist activism? What does it mean to be a feminist killjoy, and what can we learn from her? This month, we're joined by scholar and writer Sara Ahmed to answer these questions and more, as we talk about her brilliant latest book, The Feminist Killjoy Handbook. In it, Sara shows how although the label ‘killjoy’ has often been used to dismiss feminism by claiming that it causes ...
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April 6, 2023 46 mins
Today our theme is… kinda judgy! Everyone says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we all know everyone does. So, this month we thought we'd get into it - we partly covered (lol) this topic in our Rediscovery episode for Picador with Jamaica Kincaid and cover designer Stu Wilson, but we wanted to come back to it because there was so much more to say. What makes a book cover good or bad? Have you ever been totally put off r...
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Dancing can be about escape, about pleasure, but it can also be about protest. It can be a powerful means of expression, but how does writing capture all that movement and rhythm? And what does good writing about dancing do? With us this month is Jaqueline Crooks to talk about her dynamic first novel, Fire Rush, an intoxicating story about the dub reggae scene in 70s and 80s London. Told from the perspective of a young Black woman ...
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March 9, 2023 45 mins
Our theme this month was inspired by a recent story in New York magazine about, as they described it, “How to text, tip, ghost, host, and generally exist in polite society today.” The idea behind this list of 140 rules is that the last three years have completely changed the way that we live and work, and also that everyone seems to have forgotten how to be in society, so we need a new code of conduct. This got us thinking about et...
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