OurShelves: Heroics with Susie Boyt
How do we get through the difficult days?
Susie Boyt, author and theatre director, got through the pandemic by walking for miles listening to poetry podcasts to replace the conversations she’d have with friends about books. Here, she tells Lucy Scholes how she had a feminist awakening watching a play where women honoured the horror their friend went through; the sheer joy between grandmother and granddaughter in her latest novel Loved and Missed; and why Judy Garland is her ultimate heroine.
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10. Ourshelves with Rachel Seiffert59:37Rachel Seiffert is one of Virago's most critically acclaimed contemporary novelists. She has published four novels and one collection of short stories. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Dublin Impac Award and longlisted three time for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. In the finale episode of this season of Ourshelves, Rachel and Lucy discuss the lasting power of individual Jewish women’s resistance and endurance during WWII, the added weight of historical fiction inspired by real events, and the pleasures of rewatching TV series.
9. Ourshelves with Annie Hodson41:02Annie Hodson is a queer writer and playwright from York, and one of the 40-strong cohort of the London Library’s 2022-2023 emerging writers’ programme. She has just won the Virago short story competition, with her story ‘Banshee’, which will appear in the paperback of Furies in spring 2025. Lucy and Annie dive into Annie’s earliest introduction to Virago through her aunt’s vast collection of ‘green spines’, the joy of bookclubs and the weird and wonderful power of Barbara Loden’s film, ‘Wanda’.
8. Ourshelves with Audrey Osler46:00Audrey Osler is Professor Emerita of Citizenship and Human Rights Education at the University of Leeds. Her latest book, Where Are You From? No, Where Are You Really From? will be published by Virago in November and looks at the British Empire through the history of one family. This week, join us as Audrey and Lucy dive into ‘Britishness’ and the conflict between identity and belonging; the varied research methods Audrey uses to uncover the minute details of individual lives in history; and the power of stories to bring us together.
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.