OurShelves: Barbara Pym with Clare Chambers
Clare Chambers is the author of nine novels including Small Pleasures, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize. She joins Lucy Scholes to rave about the inimitable Barbara Pym, a Virago Modern Classic author whose love affairs shocked sixties society and who wrote about vicars’ tea parties with waspish humour and moving brilliance. (Tea: ‘a drink she did not much like because of the comfort it was said to bring to those whom she normally despised.’) Together they compare notes on adapting book to screen with Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, how to evoke the inner voice and the recent, genre-defying book that made Clare think about feminism in a new way.
On the nightstand: The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson and Iron Curtain by Vesna Goldsworthy.
On my mind: The TV adaptation of Conversations with Friends.
On the shelf: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.
On the pedestal: Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, director of the DSM Foundation, which educates young people to make safer choices around drugs.
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7. Ourshelves with Victoria Belim40:10Victoria Belim is a writer, journalist, and translator of Persian literature and poetry. She speaks eighteen languages, including Japanese, Turkish, and Indonesian. Her memoir, The Rooster House, was published earlier this year by Virago and explores her search for the truth behind an unmentioned family secret - and the Ukrainian people's complex relationship with their Soviet history. In this episode, Victoria and Lucy Scholes unpick Victoria’s fascination with learning languages; the rich tradition of Ukrainian poetry and the frustrations and excitement of translating it; our obsession with the little details of how other people live; and the continued relevance of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.
6. Ourshelves with Emma Donoghue48:06Emma Donoghue is an acclaimed writer whose novels include the international bestsellers Room and The Wonder. She wrote the short story ‘Turmagant’ in Virago’s recent collection of short stories, Furies, and her upcoming novel, Learned By Heart, publishes on 24th August 2023. On this episode, Emma and Lucy Scholes dive into the varied cultural reach of novels, short stories and films, the genius of Angela Carter, the long overdue recognition of Ann Lister and how the ‘Barbie’ film masters trickle-down feminism for young children.
5. Ourshelves with Natasha Walter57:44Natasha Walter is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, a journalist and human rights activist. Her books include The New Feminism and Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, which was reissued as one of Virago’s 50thAnniversary Five Gold reads this year. On this episode of Ourshelves, Natasha and Lucy Scholes discuss the continued relevance of Living Dolls in terms of the unfinished revolution of feminism and the ongoing effort to liberate ourselves, as women, from stereotypes.They also dive into Natasha’s upcoming book, Before the Light Fades, a moving memoir about losing her mother to suicide as well as honouring the legacy of a family whose members struggled bravely against some of the worst crises of the twentieth century.
4. Ourshelves with Veronica Raimo48:18Are families a refuge or a prison? Join Veronica Raimo as she talks with Lucy Scholes about the line between fiction and auto-fiction, drawing the curtain back on the creative process, and the many idiosyncrasies of language that arise during the translation of fiction. Veronica Raimo is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, Lost On Me (Niente di Vero) was a huge bestseller in Italy, that was shortlisted for the Premio Strega Prize and won the Strega Giovani Prize and the Viareggio Rèpaci Prize. The English translation of Lost On Me is being published by Virago on 3rd August 2023. Veronica contributes cultural articles to various Italian publications, and her translations into Italian include works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Octavia E. Butler, Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. Le Guin. She lives in Rome.
3. Ourshelves with Kirsty Logan01:02:48Kirsty Logan is a novelist and short story writer. She’s the author of Now She is Witch, Things We Say In The Dark, The Gloaming, The Gracekeepers, A Portable Shelter, and The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales. To mark the publication of her new book, The Unfamiliar: A Queer Motherhood Memoir, she talks with Lucy Scholes about writing like no one is reading, pregnancy journeys, disobedient bodies, the gift of sperm donation, and breaking the rules of memoir writing.
2. Ourshelves with Mecca Jamilah Sullivan49:14Join Lucy Scholes as she talks with American author Mecca Jamilah Sullivan about her debut novel, Big Girl – reviewed by the New York Times as ‘achingly beautiful’ – about a young black girl growing up in 1990s Harlem. On the table for discussion is coming-of-age fiction, beauty standards, women’s bodies and matrilineal traditions.
1. Ourshelves with Caroline O'Donoghue44:06On the premiere episode of this special series of Ourshelves, commemorating Virago’s 50th anniversary, join Caroline O'Donoghue, New York Times best-selling author and the host of the award-winning podcast Sentimental Garbage, as she talks about her new novel, The Rachel Incident. Listen as Caroline and Lucy Scholes discuss the intersection of Irish women’s fiction with the history of reproductive rights in Ireland, actively reading people you don’t agree with, the emptiness of the phrase ‘girl power’ and misogyny in cultural spaces.
12. OurShelves: Witches with Shahrukh Husain48:05Shahrukh Husain, editor of The Virago Book of Witches, who says it represents ` womanhood in all its complexity’ is not at all surprised to see a resurgence of interest in `all things witchy’. The witch knows her strength, defies authority and embodies our current fears of injustice. Shah tells Lucy how the witch can be playful but also terrifying, particularly to men, and about a childhood fascination for the witch. The writer she admires is Attia Hussain, author of Sunlight on a Broken Column, who she remembers was` so joyful’ to know Shah was writing. She, alongside Shah’s mother taught her that her cosmopolitan background – Pakistani, Indian, English – was her strength and made her ` a citizen of the world’. They are Shah’s heroines. Shahrukh's recommendations: On the nightstand: Dame Joan of Pevensey by Rev. E E CrakeOn my mind: the TV-series The Split with Nicola WalkerOn the shelf: Sunlight on a Broken Column and Phoenix Fled by Attia HosseinOn the pedestal: My mother, who worked hard for women's rights and the reform of family laws pertaining to women's rights in Pakistan soon after its inception in 1947
11. OurShelves: Caribbean voices with Sharma Taylor38:13In this special bonus summer episode Sharma Taylor, author of What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You, takes us to the heated demi-monde of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1980s, a turbulent time in politics and gangland crime. She tells Lucy Scholes about writing in patois; the Caribbean authors right now who are representing the strength of women in society; and what her mother sacrificed to buy her books as a child.On the nightstand: The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-AgostiniOn my mind: The podcasts Unstoppable Yes You and Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival Cocoa Pod On the shelf: This One Sky Day by Leone RossOn the pedestal: My mother.