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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
 
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show series
 
This minisode we are leaning even further into our autumnal and back to school-ish vibe to talk about The Campus Novel, a genre that includes some beloved books and some much less beloved books, but remains enduring nevertheless. Why is there such an appetite for novels about university life? Are these stories mostly wish fulfilment narratives for …
 
Can you have freedom without constraint? What role does it play in creativity, and can it be productive as well as limiting? This month our guest is the thinker and writer Maggie Nelson, whose latest book, On Freedom, explores the concept of freedom via four wide-ranging essays about art, sex, drugs and climate. Its subtitle is Four Songs of Care a…
 
School is a loooong way in our past, but the imprint of that new start in September cycle runs deep, so in this minisode we are leaning into that back-to-school feeling. It also feels like there are more brilliant books on the horizon than ever this autumn, and we want to pay homage to our big and exciting to-read piles by telling you about some of…
 
It's September, the leaves are starting to turn, and we're kicking off our Autumn season with a vital conversation about the power of writing for change. Our guest is the author Shon Faye, who joined us to discuss her hotly anticipated first book, The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice. It's a necessary and inspiring text in which she argue…
 
We're on our summer break, which gives us a chance to re-run this brilliant conversation we had with punk superstar Viv Albertine when she dropped by the studio a few years ago to talk about her memoir, To Throw Away Unopened. Nothing grants insight into lived experience quite like a memoir, but the form can accommodate so much more than that, and …
 
It’s hot here, the sky is blue, the air smells sweet, and we are about to take our summer break, so we wanted this last minisode of the season to be a little ode to one of our very favourite things about this time of year: the ocean. Of course, the sea is for all seasons, but there is something magical about it in the summer - swimming in it, gazin…
 
Many of us have significant relationships with our grandparents, but is this reflected in literature? From Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Olive Kitteridge, which fictional grandparents have stayed with you? This month, we’re really excited to welcome the author Anuk Arudpragasam to talk about his second novel, A Passage North. …
 
Inspired by Deborah Levy's recommendation of The Friend by Sigrid Nunez - about the surprising friendship between a woman and a Great Dane named Apollo - this show is dedicated to: pets! Furry best friends or unfairly subjugated creatures? Is it ever possible to love animals ethically? Which pets from the pages of literature have stuck in our minds…
 
This month, our guest is the inimitable author Deborah Levy, whose latest book, Real Estate, is the third instalment in her acclaimed living autobiography trilogy. It's a book about a lot of things - being a writer, being a woman, how we make and remake a life, and what we ultimately leave behind. But it's also about real estate, which got us think…
 
Book criticism - it’s a divisive topic, and one people feel very strongly about. Do you secretly relish a hatchet job, or think there's only space for glowing reviews?What actually is the function of criticism, and what makes it good or bad? Can it ever be truly impartial? This month's theme was recommended by our patron Angelique, and it's one we …
 
Our guest this month is the novelist Rachel Kushner, who we have been huge fans of ever since we read her novel The Flamethrowers. Rachel’s latest book is a collection of essays, The Hard Crowd. Though it covers a lot of ground, the collection returns often to the rebels and misfits and outsiders living on the edge of society - a theme in her ficti…
 
Some people treat books like they are sacred objects, others scribble all over them (or even cut them in half). Of course, books are objects, but they're also portals to other universes, new ways of thinking, adventures, romances, and more. The suggestion for this theme was sent to us on Patreon by a patron called Agnes - who asked if we’d talk abo…
 
Everyone needs a little magic from time to time, and this episode is brimming with it. We spoke to Leone Ross about her sensuous, absorbing new novel, This One Sky Day, which is set in the fictional Carribean archipelago of Popisho, where everyone is born with a certain magical gift, or cors. It's a story about many things, but mainly of two lovers…
 
It has - astonishingly - been a year since our first lockdown minisode (Escapism in Quarantine), and here in the UK we are just starting to emerge from the latest restrictions. So, in honour of being able to meet six people outside again, we are dedicating this minisode to books about groups of friends. What makes stories about friendship groups so…
 
This month, as spring begins to spring, we're thinking about vulnerability, about the perils and pleasures of opening up. Joining us is author and academic Katherine Angel, whose latest book Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again is a nuanced and thought-provoking examination of women’s desire in the age of consent, exploring the shortcomings of our curre…
 
For Minisode Nineteen we’re doing something a little different - this episode is sponsored by publisher Serpent’s Tail, who are celebrating their thirty-fifth birthday this year (just like both of us!). We’ve had many of their authors on the show over the years, including Chris Kraus, Carmen Maria Machado, Mary Gaitskill, Esi Edugyan and Sarah Perr…
 
Building on our show in 2017 with Dana Spiotta that looked at books about film, this month we want to explore what happens when books turn into films. We’ll be asking why literature is often a source for cinema, thinking about what the best adaptations get right, and remembering some of our favourite movies inspired by books. Our guest is author Ni…
 
Minisode Eighteen is dedicated to winter reads. Summer reading seems to get all the attention, but as we hunker down into our second month of winter lockdown in the UK, we’ve been thinking about the kinds of books we turn to in the colder months of the year (and at peak pandemic exhaustion). We’re going to discuss what makes a good read in bleak we…
 
For our first show of 2021, we bring you this author special with Raven Leilani, who joined Carrie in cyberspace to talk about her smash hit debut novel, Luster. In this extended interview, they discussed making art in precarity, writing so the reader can’t look away, good and bad sex, what it means to write Black characters who unapologetically de…
 
It’s our last Literary Friction of 2020, and as usual it's time for our year in review show, packed full of recommendations just in time for your holiday shopping. We'll be looking back over some of the books that got us through this wildly challenging year, and gently revisiting the reading resolutions we made in 2019, when we were still so innoce…
 
Does the written word really have the power to change things? How do you make a good argument in writing? Does the form of the essay lend itself particularly well to politics? Join us as we talk to the writer Otegha Uwagba about her brilliant essay Whites, a clear sighted, powerful comment on race in our society which examines her feelings in the w…
 
What with the news of a viable Covid vaccine in the works and a Biden Harris administration on the horizon, you may be having an unusual feeling, one that you vaguely recognise but can’t quite put your finger on... Well, friends, it might just be Optimism. We're a few weeks into lockdown two in the UK, and seeing as we talked about joy at the start…
 
What does it mean to love too much, or in a way that society doesn’t see as appropriate? Is loving an inherently complicated experience? Helping us consider these questions is our guest, the author Mary Gaitskill, who joined us to talk about her masterful long essay Lost Cat, which has just been published in the UK for the first time. It’s the stor…
 
What is it about sisters? Loving, competitive, sometimes incredibly sinister... this month, we're thinking about sisterhood, and all those memorable sisters that fill the pages of literature with their rivalries and alliances, adoration and rebellion. From Little Women to My Sister the Serial Killer, we're getting into why this familial bond is so …
 
Here at Literary Friction, we believe translation is both an art and a superpower; it gives us access to voices and stories from all over the world, and it's a rolling theme we keep coming back to on the show. What makes a good translation? Are translators finally starting to get the recognition they deserve? Why are there still so few translated t…
 
Before we were hit with this recent heatwave, there was starting to be a chill in the air, and soon it will be the perfect climate for taking brisk walks in parks, or just round the block for your government mandated hour of exercise should we find ourselves in another lockdown. Either way, the perfect conditions for… listening to books! The first …
 
Why is there so much delight in discovering a juicy new word? Do you ever read the dictionary for fun? Is it annoying when people use obscure words too often? This month’s show is dedicated to the building blocks of all books: words. Joining us is the author Eley Williams, whose first novel The Liar’s Dictionary is both about words and delights in …
 
We're still on our summer break, so we wanted to use this chance to bring you a re-run of one of our favourite shows from our archive. In 2018, we spoke to Thomas Page McBee about his book Amateur, which tells the true story of his quest to become the first trans man to box at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The theme of the show is Masculi…
 
Don't know about you, but we've really felt the need for a little more joy around here lately. We miss it, and as the world continues to turn upside down, we’re learning how to find it in new ways and in new places. So, Minisode Fifteen is dedicated to JOY, and the best thing about joy is that once you have a little of it you can find ways to pass …
 
What does it mean to write luxuriously? How can books be rich and generous? This month we’re talking about luxury in literature - and no, we don’t mean books about the 1% having spa days or flying first class. Instead, we’re talking about writing that explores the aesthetic, opulent, baroque and decadent. Through writers including Oscar Wilde, F. S…
 
This month, we're going behind closed doors with Carmen Maria Machado, who dialled in from the States to talk to us. Her innovative memoir, In The Dream House, is about her experience of domestic abuse, something that is so often hidden from view, and even more so when it happens in a queer relationship. What does it mean to write into archival sil…
 
We're in the midst of an international protest movement, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis police. As a result, it didn’t feel right to put out a new show, so instead we wanted to re-run a show from 2017 during which we talked about race with Reni Eddo-Lodge, the author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People…
 
We're still stuck on the theme of intimacy, because we haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The demands of this crisis are forcing us to rethink so much that used to be instinctive, including how we connect with other people - physical contact has never been more loaded, and we're having to rely on other ways to bridge the gaps between us. …
 
Like a lot of people, lockdown has made us think about intimacy. As separation from our loved ones drags on, we're all having to find different ways to connect, and in this socially distant reality, intimacy feels more necessary than ever - however we can get it (hot tip: books are good!). Writing and reading can be intimate acts, so for this episo…
 
In the absence of an outside world, and because we are missing our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances, even strangers on trains, for Minisode Thirteen we're going inside our minds: we want to talk about the characters from literature that have stayed with us and taken root in our imaginations long after finishing the books that brought them…
 
How do you hold onto hope in the dark? This question feels more pertinent than ever right now, and we couldn't think of anyone we'd rather ask than author Jenny Offill, who we spoke to from our various quarantine locations this month. Her new novel Weather is a sharp, insightful meditation on how regular humans process catastrophe, and while it's p…
 
How are you finding reading at the moment? Are you struggling to drag your eyes away from Twitter or endlessly scrolling news sites? What does escapism really mean? What's working, and what isn't working in these anxious times? We are currently about sixty miles apart from one another, but very pleased to be bringing you Minisode Twelve from our is…
 
Has anyone written a great social media novel yet? Is Twitter destroying our ability to read novels in the first place? How worried should we be about bookstagrammers? Why are you listening to this podcast instead of reading a book? What even is the point of podcasting?? On this month’s show we’re asking these not at all panicked questions and talk…
 
However you feel about Brexit, there’s no denying that it’s going to change the relationship that people in the UK have with the European Union and the twenty-seven countries that make it up. But we are not here to dwell in the misery of all that! One of the most beautiful things about literature is that, unless things get fully fascistic, no polit…
 
This month on Literary Friction we’re going on the run. Or, more accurately, we’ll be sitting still in the studio talking about literature that features characters and people who are running away both physically and psychologically, from Cora in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, to Madame Bovary, to Augusten Burroughs and A.A. Gill. Our …
 
For the first minisode of 2020, we're wading into the gossipy world of TS Eliot's love life: this year marks the publication of his romantic letters to Emily Hale, fifty years after their deaths. If you missed the story in the press, let's just say it's not one in which he covered himself in glory. Listen in for our thoughts on literary fetishism, …
 
Our first show of the year (and decade) is all about New Beginnings: from Virginia Woolf's novels to memoirs like Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, we’ll look at books that feature rejuvenation, and think about why it's such fertile ground for storytelling. Joining us is author An Yu, whose thoughtful and surreal debut novel Braised Pork inspired the theme…
 
For our last show of the year, we’re going into therapy - or, more accurately, we’ll be talking about therapy’s intersection with literature. Does analysis make good fiction? Do therapists make good characters, or good authors? What has the language of psychology given to literature? We’re very happy that the inspiration for today’s topic is our gu…
 
It’s our last minisode of 2019, so we're looking back over some of our favourite reads of the year, some of our resolutions for 2020, plus the usual cultural recommendations - so, if you need some inspiration for what books to buy people for Christmas then grab a pen! Also, here’s your annual reminder to support your local independent bookshop inst…
 
From William Faulkner to John Updike, and Hilary Mantel to Margaret Atwood, why do authors return to the same characters and places again and again? What can a trilogy do that a solo book can’t? And why do we get so excited (and nervous) about these returns? To help us answer these questions, this month we have a very special guest: the inimitable,…
 
For Minisode Eight we were inspired by a question podcaster Isaac Butler asked on Twitter, which was: What’s a Great Book that you read because it was assigned to you that you actually loved? We also asked: Which were the books that really did it for you at school or university? Did you like being set reading, or rebel against it? And were there an…
 
This show is a little different from usual as we’re coming to you from the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where we were this year’s podcast in residence. This jam-packed special features recordings from both the events we chaired: ‘A Body of Work’ with Karen Havelin and Eleanor Thom, in which we discussed their books Please Read This Leaflet Caref…
 
This month's show is called City of Voices in honour of our very esteemed guest, author Zadie Smith. We met Zadie for a live event in Sheffield to talk about her first short story collection, Grand Union, a playful, ambitious symphony of different voices, styles and forms. Listen in to hear about why we should all embrace our inner chaos, the ways …
 
Do you consider yourself a vain person? Because this month is all about vanity in literature, dedicated to those characters who are just a little bit too pleased with themselves. It's also our first full show back this Autumn, and we are thrilled to kick things off with none other than the inimitable Deborah Levy, who joined us for a live event at …
 
Hello! We're back! We missed you! Welcome to Minisode Seven, in which we make an excited return to the studio and catch up on what we got up to over our summer break. Before all that, though, we want to play you some of an ace live event Octavia did with authors Jia Tolentino and Emilie Pine, discussing their brilliant essay collections, Trick Mirr…
 
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