Whitney Terrell, V.V. Ganeshananthan public
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Hosted by Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan, fiction/non/fiction interprets current events through the lens of literature, and features conversations with writers of all stripes, from novelists and poets to journalists and essayists.
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Writer Brandy Jensen joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about polyamory’s place in the contemporary imagination. Jensen discusses the connections between polyamory and politics, noting its links to queer community and its defiance of normative gender roles. She analyzes protections for the rights of multiple-partner rela…
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Author Claire Messud joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about how the lines between autobiography and fiction blur, and the ways that families—real and imagined—hide their true histories. Messud’s new novel, This Strange Eventful History, out Tuesday, draws on her own family’s complex past, including their connections to…
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Authors and organizers Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor join co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the concept of solidarity, its reliance on relationship-building, and how it has been expressed in political movements, from recent pro-Palestine activism in the U.S. to the Polish organization Solidarność, a trade union fou…
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Author and journalist Tracie McMillan joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the concept of the “white bonus” and how systemic bias generates white wealth not only in daily life but across generations. She references racial covenants, incarceration rates, and housing codes that continue to impact families, Black and wh…
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As the presidential election heats up and President Joe Biden struggles to keep young voters’ support, novelist Jen Silverman joins co-host V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss generational divides in U.S. politics. Silverman, whose new book, There’s Going to Be Trouble, follows the political and sexual awakenings of a father and daughter in different er…
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In the wake of the news that Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has cancer, author S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the control that public—and private—figures should have over the disclosure of their diagnoses. Wisenberg, who survived breast cancer, and Terrell, who was recently diagno…
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In anticipation of the total solar eclipse forecast for April 8, author and journalist David Baron joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss his award-winning book, American Eclipse, which chronicles the remarkable solar eclipse of 1878. Baron, a self-proclaimed umbraphile, or eclipse chaser, explains why he chose to write a…
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In anticipation of the total solar eclipse forecast for April 8, author and journalist David Baron joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss his award-winning book, American Eclipse, which chronicles the remarkable solar eclipse of 1878. Baron, a self-proclaimed umbraphile, or eclipse chaser, explains why he chose to write a…
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Novelist Sally Franson joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about Fashion Week 2024, the role fashion plays in characterization, and how stylish authors and characters have modeled and influenced tastes and trends. Franson reflects on her time working in the industry and discusses insiders’ perceptions of various Fashion W…
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Following a record-smashing performance by University of Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark, now the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I basketball, novelist and former professional squash player Ivy Pochoda joins host V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about portrayals of women athletes in media, literature, and film. Pochoda considers the gender …
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Writer Emily Raboteau joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about mothering in the face of climate change and systemic inequality. Raboteau discusses the difference between “resilience” and “trauma-informed growth,” and considers which one more realistically describes how people react to devastation. She also reflects on wr…
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Writer Briallen Hopper joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about in vitro fertilization and the recent Alabama State Supreme Court ruling declaring that frozen embryos have the same rights as children. Hopper speaks about the science and thought behind freezing embryos versus eggs, as well as the religious language embedd…
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Rachel Bitecofer, author of the new book Hit ’Em Where It Hurts: How to Save Democracy by Beating Republicans at Their Own Game, joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk shop about the election strategies Democrats should implement to combat Republicans and prevent fascism. Bitecofer discusses how Republicans use “negative par…
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As the 2024 Presidential race heats up, award-winning fiction writer Margot Livesey joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the value of seeing the future in politics and in family life. Are the polls right? Will Donald Trump beat President Joe Biden in the November election? Livesey talks about the role predictions play i…
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Two years after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, novelist, journalist, and veteran Matt Gallagher joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the current state of the Russo-Ukrainian war and why the country desperately needs the emergency aid in a bill currently under consideration in Congress. Gallagher, whose new novel Daybreak…
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Novelist Jacinda Townsend and writer James Bernard Short join co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the movie American Fiction, which is based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett. Townsend and Short discuss how the film addresses race in the publishing industry via its central character, Black author Thelonious “Monk” …
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With AWP’s annual conference headed to Kansas City next week, poet and activist Glenn North joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to tell incoming writers where to find the best food and coolest hangouts in the city. North discusses Kansas City’s diversity, its history of racial covenants, and its newly rejuvenated Crossroads Arts …
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Novelist Ed Park joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the role of alternate histories and counternarratives in popular culture, public record, and the general consciousness, via his new novel, Same Bed Different Dreams. Park talks about depicting and reimagining well known events and eras, including the Japanese occupat…
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Journalist Nate Rawlings, who spent a stint as a speechwriter for then-Vice President Joe Biden, joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the politics (and nuances) of plagiarism. Rawlings discusses how plagiarism accusations derailed Joe Biden’s presidential run in 1987. He examines how the right-wing activist-led plagi…
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Novelist Lauren Groff joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the new independent bookstore she and her husband are planning in Gainesville, Florida. The Lynx, which Groff aims to open this spring, will feature banned books, an act of resistance in a state where more than half of school districts have seen book banning act…
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As Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy vie for the Republican presidential nomination, Indian American reporter and memoirist Prachi Gupta joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan put these politicians into historical perspective. She discusses how the myth of Indian American exceptionalism has been used to further white supremacy and sup…
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In this holiday re-broadcast of an episode from April 23, 2020, acclaimed poet Danez Smith discusses the role friendship plays in their most recent collection of poetry, Homie. Smith talks to Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell about the isolating effect COVID-19 has had on black communities, using space on …
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Novelist and critic Lydia Kiesling joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the creation and the spirit of year-end book lists. She talks about list culture getting its start at the small, online literary magazine, The Millions, and its eventual spread to seemingly every media outlet. The three grapple with the significance…
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Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Tracy K. Smith joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss the difference between being “free” and being “freed.” She suggests that citizens of the United States fall into one category or the other. The first appear to have descended from those who were always free. The second descend from those w…
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Poet Taylor Byas joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss writing about Chicago, which she does in her Maya Angelou Book Award-winning collection of poetry, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times. She talks about growing up in the country’s most segregated city, and considers its long traditions of Black, working-class, and et…
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Novelist Timothy Schaffert joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss how the concept of farce relates to today’s GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Schaffert describes the lack of self-awareness in both fictional and real-life characters, including politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, and analyzes ho…
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On Thanksgiving, the show returns to an episode with playwright Rhiana Yazzie and novelist Brandon Hobson, who joined hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell in February 2019 to discuss Native literature. These interviews were recorded in the wake of viral images showing Covington Catholic students disrespecting Native activist Nathan Phillip…
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Writer and editor Zeke Caligiuri joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss American Precariat: Parables of Exclusion, a new collection of essays on class he co-edited along with eleven other incarcerated writers. The volume’s contributors include Eula Biss, Kao Kalia Yang, Lacy M. Johnson, Valeria Luisielli, Kiese Laymon, an…
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Fiction writer Lesley Nneka Arimah joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss how Black horror writing speaks to our current cultural moment. She talks about editor/director Jordan Peele’s new anthology, Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, in which her work is included, and how she went from avoiding horror…
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In the wake of the recent violence in Palestine and Israel, the show returns to an interview taped in June 2021 with scholars Shir Alon and Joseph Farag, who join co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss how Palestinian and Israeli writers have written about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Farag talks about the evolutio…
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Novelist Jonathan Lethem joins host Whitney Terrell live at the Cider Gallery in Lawrence, Kansas. Lethem discusses his new book, Brooklyn Crime Novel, which is set in the neighborhood where he grew up—and where he also set his 2003 novel Fortress of Solitude. They discuss terms like blockbusting and redlining, and the ways that Lethem’s writing ex…
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Poet, editor, and writer John Freeman and novelist Omar El Akkad join co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the final issue of Freeman’s, a literary magazine founded in 2015. El Akkad, a contributor to the volume, describes founding editor Freeman’s intense and uniquely broad interest in literature, as well as his unusual a…
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Novelist Rebecca Makkai joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about new accusations of sex crimes or sexual misconduct, this time leveled against comedian Russell Brand, actor Danny Masterson, and Spanish Soccer Federation president Luis Rubiales. Makkai observes that since the start of the #MeToo movement, more people are …
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Writer, programmer, and tech consultant Alex Reisner joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about his recent Atlantic articles on Books3, a massive data set that includes hundreds of thousands of pirated e-books, and that Meta and other companies have used to train generative AI. Reisner explains how he extracted book names …
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In anticipation of Banned Books Week, Brooklyn Public Library’s collections manager Leigh Hurwitz joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to discuss how the recent, dramatic rise in book bans disproportionately affects young people, and why BPL has chosen to offer access to its half a million eBooks and audiobooks to every person in …
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Eighteen months into the invasion of Ukraine, Tetyana Ogarkova and Volodymyr Yermolenko, hosts of the podcast Explaining Ukraine, return to talk to co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan about how the war has affected Ukrainian artists and how they’re responding. They talk about the actions of deeply engaged writers and intellectuals they…
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Novelist Leila Aboulela joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan on their 200th episode to talk about the fighting between rival military factions in her native Sudan, which has displaced millions of civilians. She compares the situation of Sudan, which underwent a coup in 2019, with the six other African countries that have experienc…
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Fiction writer Maurice Carlos Ruffin joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the literary and historical antecedents to Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who has filed a RICO case against Trump and 18 co-defendants for their illegal attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He discusses the long history of…
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Kansas Reflector editor-in-chief Sherman Smith joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the police raid on the tiny Marion County Record. He explains the newspaper’s investigation of the DUI history of a local restaurant owner who’d applied for a liquor license, which led to an August 11 raid of both the newspaper’s offi…
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As summer draws to an end, Thurber Prize-winning novelist Julie Schumacher joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the state of the American vacation and how holidays are portrayed in literature. Schumacher discusses her new comic novel, The English Experience, a sequel to Dear Committee Members that focuses on universi…
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Award-winning journalist and professor Samuel G. Freedman joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about what progressives today can learn from an unexpected source: Democratic politician Hubert Humphrey. Freedman explains how today’s battles against far-right bigotry parallel the fight for civil rights Humphrey engaged in alo…
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Bestselling novelist Celeste Ng joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about the wide range of GOP policies and initiatives hurting children. This includes recent news of Ron DeSantis pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that authorizes Florida to take emergency custody of trans children “threatened with” receiving gender-affirmi…
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Journalist and novelist Dawnie Walton joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about U.S. concert culture. Why are live concerts so popular this summer and why have they so often become violent? Walton discusses how recent examples of fan violence speak to racism and sexism in American culture, as well as the role social media…
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Bestselling novelist and former Twitter employee Robin Sloan joins co-hosts Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about how Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter and the rise of new platforms like Mastodon, Bluesky, and Meta’s Threads are shaping a new ecosystem of social media. The co-hosts and Sloan grapple with the unruliness of Twitter ove…
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Poet Jaswinder Bolina joins co-host Whitney Terrell and V.V. Ganeshananthan to talk about how the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the consideration of race in college admissions will affect MFA programs. The group reflects on why diversity is a crucial part of any writer’s education and the risk that this decision will change writing programs fo…
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Novelist and nonfiction writer Beth Nguyen joins co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to talk about her new memoir, Owner of a Lonely Heart, which is about her separation from and connection to her mother. Nguyen explains how when she came to the U.S. as a refugee, her mother was left behind in Vietnam. She discusses how returning to sc…
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Editor and literary critic Oscar Villalon joins V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to celebrate the life and legacy of the novelist Cormac McCarthy, who died last month. The hosts and Villalon reflect on McCarthy’s vast vocabulary and cinematic descriptions, in which he juxtaposed lyrical prose with graphic violence. Villalon considers McCarth…
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Novelist Jean Kwok joins co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to discuss recent changes to child labor laws in the U.S., as more than 10 states have proposed or enacted legislation that would loosen restrictions on minors working. The three talk about what the shift means in relation to labor shortages and consider migrant children’s un…
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Novelist Jacinda Townsend joins co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to discuss Joe Biden’s stubbornly low poll numbers among Democrats, which persist despite his legislative accomplishments. Townsend talks about the administration’s struggles to communicate its goals and achievements and explains why Biden’s policy decisions—past and p…
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Novelist Matt Quirk joins co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell to discuss what makes the White House such a popular place to set stories—including scenes in his newest thriller, Inside Threat, as well as a previous book, The Night Agent, which is now a hit Netflix series. Quirk suggests that the White House is a unique space where the d…
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