Marlon and Jake Read Dead People

Marlon and Jake Read Dead People

Marlon and Jake Read Dead People is a podcast hosted by the Man Booker Prize-winning and internationally bestselling author Marlon James and his editor, Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor at Riverhead Books. In each episode, Marlon and Jake talk about authors—specifically dead authors. Authors they like. Authors they hate. Great books, terrible books, and books they love that you’d never expect them to. As a writer and an editor, Marlon and Jake have read thousands of books between them, and they’re not shy in expressing their opinions about them. Sometimes they’ll agree, sometimes they won’t, but in every episode, they’ll tell you what they think— uncensored and with no holds barred. (That’s why the authors have to be dead.) So, listen along to hear about the spectacularly good, the hilariously bad, and the brutally honest.


May 2, 2023 40 mins

In the final episode of the season, Marlon and Jake weigh in on their favorite vacation reads, including the ones they started but never finished. Tune in to find out which classic novels Jake took to the beach and which ones Marlon says should have been thrown in the ocean. 

Subscribe to our River-herd newsletter for sneak peeks of our upcoming books, free giveaways, and exclusive content.

Mark as Played

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times—it was school. In this episode, Marlon and Jake discuss books where school is the setting or going to school is central to the plot. They debate which authors got school right and which got school wrong, what makes an inspiring teacher, and what the closed universe of a schoolyard or college campus can feel like. Tune in to hear Marlon and Jake reminisce over their own college exp...

Mark as Played
April 18, 2023 45 mins

In this episode, Marlon and Jake talk about cities in books. Books set in memorable cities, books set in cities you're glad you've never been to and books where the city itself is nearly a character. They talk about the specificity of London of the 19th century British novel, the New York novel, entirely fictional cities in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and don’t miss Marlon’s personal experience with Bloomsday in Dublin!

Subscribe to our Riv...

Mark as Played
April 11, 2023 54 mins

In this episode, Marlon and Jake talk about the bad characters we’re not meant to like but do and the good characters we’re meant to like but annoy us. From Dracula to Daisy Buchanan to Oliver Twist and Bambi, the good-to-evil spectrum is vast and no character is safe from commentary. Tune in to find out which classic villain the duo unanimously hate, and which villain gives Marlon the chills and scares Jake to this day. 

Subscribe ...

Mark as Played
April 4, 2023 40 mins

This episode, Marlon and Jake discuss a new subject for the podcast: poetry! From epic poems to sonnets to the Romantics poets to contemporary (dead) poets. They ponder over why people don’t read poetry as much as prose and recite, on the spot, lines of poetry that are forever engrained in their memories.

Subscribe to our River-herd newsletter for sneak peeks of our upcoming books, free giveaways, and exclusive content. https://site...

Mark as Played
March 28, 2023 43 mins

Books assigned in school evoke strong feelings. You either love em’ or you hate em.’ In this episode, Marlon and Jake discuss the books they wished they were assigned in school and the ones they suffered through. Accompanying the books taught in school, there are, of course, the teachers who taught them. A teacher can make or break a book read in school. As a literature teacher (as well as Booker prize winning author), Marlon ackno...

Mark as Played
March 21, 2023 44 mins

In this episode, Marlon and Jake weigh in on a question as old as books themselves—can you judge a book by its cover? Spoiler alert: the answer is yes! They discuss good books with bad covers and bad books with good covers, cover art trends (*cough* the woman facing away), books that were recommended to them, and books they read because of peer pressure. Tune in to hear Marlon and Jake opine the myriad ways we judge books.


Mark as Played
March 14, 2023 43 mins

Marlon and Jake are back! And they’re catching up on the dead authors they’ve read since they last spoke—some of which they praise, others they don’t. From comparing Nella Larson’s Passing to the Netflix film, to discussing unsettling stories that linger with you, they cover a lot of literary ground. They also weigh in on longstanding debates like whether they read the book or watch the movie adaption first and the difference betwe...

Mark as Played
March 7, 2023 42 secs
In just one week, Marlon and Jake return with an epic new season discussing the non-living luminaries they love, hate, and will never agree on. Get ready for even more hot takes, hilarious debates, and incisive commentary on dead poets, judging books by their covers, exactly what kind of student Marlon was in college, and which classic novel Jake spoiled the ending for a colleague—among other literary gems.
Mark as Played
February 25, 2022 41 mins

Marlon & Jake are back to discuss the most indelible and powerful female characters—those written by dead female authors and those written by dead male authors. From Sula Peace to the Wife of Bath, Scout Finch to Janie Crawford—these two gentleman celebrate some of literature’s most ferocious, complicated, guileless, unrepentant and commanding women.

  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard
  • Bleak House ...
Mark as Played
February 18, 2022 45 mins

Marlon & Jake are back to discuss the narrators they love but can't trust. From the delusional to the uninformed, the sociopathic to the sympathetic, they explore the characters that charm as much as they trick, begging the question: is there such a thing as a reliable narrator? So tune in to hear if Jake has warmed to Great Expectations (spoiler alert: he hasn’t) and so much more! 

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • Great ...
Mark as Played
February 18, 2022 3 mins

We didn't ghost you, dear listeners. Marlon had a novel to finish, which Jake had to edit. But the good news is it's officially out in the world, and so before Marlon—the very living author—takes off on his whirlwind book tour, he and Jake are back together for a brief (but delicious) reunion of discussing what they love most: DEAD AUTHORS. We'll be back for season three later this spring, but until then, stayed tuned for an amuse ...

Mark as Played
September 1, 2021 58 mins

Prepare for what might be Marlon & Jake’s most controversial hot takes yet, as they travel back through the last four hundred years to decide which dead authors from each century stand the test of time and which can be left to gather dust on the shelf.  Where do they fall on Paradise Lost?  Who triumphs in the battle of the poets v. novelists of the 18th century? How much has the 1930s Hollywood studio system shaped classic stories...

Mark as Played
August 25, 2021 47 mins

This week Marlon & Jake discuss the books by dead authors they give as gifts and the very important decision-making that goes into that selection. Whether it’s for a younger, skeptical or pretentious reader, they share the unintentionally comedic and surprisingly engaging books they choose to bestow upon their loved ones. 

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot 
  • The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
  • Tai-Pan by James Clavell
  • The Godfather by Ma...
Mark as Played
August 18, 2021 45 mins

This week Marlon & Jake discuss memorable characters from books by dead authors—who they love, who they despise and everything in between. What exactly makes a character great?  Who would they invite to their literary dinner party and why?  From Elmore Leonard’s Raylan to Louisa May Alcott’s Jo March, Lady Macbeth to Auntie Mame—tune in to hear which fictional personalities would get a seat at the table, who would be banished forev...

Mark as Played
August 11, 2021 44 mins

Marlon and Jake take on literary giants in a grudge match for the ages. This time it's Charles Dickens vs. Anthony Trollope and Louisa May Alcott vs. Laura Ingalls Wilder in a no-holds-barred royal rumble. The two of them pull no punches, whether they're talking about racism or Edith Wharton's snobbery, colonialism or Hugh Grant's hair. So get ready to cheer on your favorite dead author and literary warrior as Marlon and Jake go ma...

Mark as Played
August 4, 2021 56 mins

Literary speculation abounds as Marlon and Jake reveal which books they wish they had written and which they think would have been better if they’d been written by someone completely different. Listen in as they explore the questions you never knew you needed answers to. Would The Confessions of Nat Turner have been better if Zora Neale Hurston had written it? Who could have written a funnier Ulysses? Were members of the Bloomsbury...

Mark as Played
July 28, 2021 49 mins

Marlon and Jake share their "gateway" books by dead authors, the first books they read that that turned them on—or off—the rest of an author's work. From John Steinbeck to Dorothy Parker, Umberto Eco to Norman Mailer, Ayn Rand to Carson McCullers, Marlon and Jake don't hold back in discussing the imprints, footprints, and thumbprints these books left on them. They also ponder the long-lasting consequences of the high school lit cla...

Mark as Played
July 21, 2021 45 mins

In this episode Marlon and Jake ponder the tricky question of the last books by authors who’ve … um … left this mortal coil. Which last books are actually worth reading? (Not many, it turns out.) From Roberto Bolaño to Penelope Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath to Eudora Welty, Marlon and Jake discuss how an author's last book compares to their previous ones, how success and age changed how and what they wrote, and the wistfulness that come...

Mark as Played

We've heard them rave about their favorites and rant about their least favorites, but Marlon and Jake reveal in this episode their second favorite books by dead authors: the books they love that are the runners-up to the #1 spots in their hearts. From Amos Tutuola to Gabriel García Márquez to John le Carré and more, Marlon and Jake explore why one's favorite book by an author might not always be their best book, what separates an i...

Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    "McCartney: A Life in Lyrics" offers listeners the opportunity to sit in on conversations between Paul McCartney and poet Paul Muldoon dissecting the people, experiences, and art that inspired McCartney’s songwriting. These conversations were held during the past several years as the two collaborated on the best selling book, “The Lyrics: 1965 to Present.” Over two seasons and 24 episodes of “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics”, you’ll hear a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode focuses on one song from McCartney’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles through his solo work. Season 1 premieres on October 4th. “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries. Cover Portrait © 1967 Paul McCartney / Photographer: Linda McCartney

    Dateline NBC

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Crime Junkie

    If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.


    Unforgettable true crime mysteries, exclusive newsmaker interviews, hard-hitting investigative reports and in-depth coverage of high profile stories.

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


    © 2023 iHeartMedia, Inc.