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Podcast episodeCover image for of Strange Here: George Saunders

Strange Here: George Saunders  /  Fiction

‘If we were going to try to write a novel about right now, what’s the equivalent of a god’s-eye-view of right now? I think it’s … every thought going on right now, presented simultaneously.’

American writer George Saunders is one of the world’s most surreal – and most empathic – eyewitnesses to modern life. But quixotic? Not so much. In his writing, he’s generous with his subjects: offering them dignity where consumerism and politics deny it. It’s absurd and heart-wrenching stuff; often farcical, with echoes of despair.

Best known until now for his short story collections (Tenth of DecemberPastoralia) and collected essays (The Braindead Megaphone), Saunders has also written novellas, children’s books, and now, a novel – or something close to it, anyway. Lincoln in the Bardo defies comparison. Born from a kernel of history (Abraham Lincoln’s mourning for his dead son), the book hurls a giddy net of voices into the twilight between life and death, ruminating on love that – like all love – must end.

Having moved from field geophysicist to doorman, roofer and slaughterhouse worker before arriving at writing, Saunders himself is as shape-shifting as his writing. For the first time in Australia, he talks to Don Watson about his hyper-real prose, his simple, methodical approaches to writing, and his redoubled commitment to the profundity of art.

George Saunders speaks with Don Watson at Northcote Town Hall — Photo: Jon Tjhia

 
Podcast episodeCover image for of Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Annabel Crabb

Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Annabel Crabb  /  Satire

Similar but not the same   Podcast episode Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Tony Martin  /  Satire

Armando Iannucci is the brilliant comedic mind behind Veep’s Selina Meyer, The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker and, in collaboration with Chris Morris on The Day Today, the irrepressible Alan Partridge. If you’re familiar with Iannucci’s work, you’ll know he’s also responsible for some of the most inventive swearing and bizarre black comedy ever broadcast in TV history.

Yet this giant of British comedy – famous for his brand of caustic, sometimes surrealist, political satire – worries about the role of comedy in this era of post-truth, populist politics. ‘I now find the political landscape so alien and awful that it’s hard to match the waves of cynicism it transmits on its own,’ he wrote in the New Statesman last year.

One of the running ideas in Iannucci’s work – from Alan Partridge to Selina Meyer – is the gap between puffed-up public image and paranoid private persona. Most recently, he’s been working on a feature film that might touch on these tensions again. It’s set in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and it’s called The Death of Stalin.

In conversation with Annabel Crabb, Iannucci discusses the predicaments and possibilities of political satire today.

Annabel Crabb and Armando Iannucci at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre — Photo: Jon Tjhia

See also 2 May 2017 Note Offensive Charms: An Armando Iannucci Radio Primer  /  Radio

Guest post by Miyuki Jokiranta

 
Podcast episodeCover image for of Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Tony Martin

Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Tony Martin  /  Satire

Similar but not the same   Podcast episode Armando Iannucci in Conversation with Annabel Crabb  /  Satire

Armando Iannucci is the brilliant comedic mind behind Veep’s Selina Meyer, The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker and, in collaboration with Chris Morris on The Day Today, the irrepressible Alan Partridge. If you’re familiar with Iannucci’s work, you’ll know he’s also responsible for some of the most inventive swearing and bizarre black comedy ever broadcast in TV history.

Yet this giant of British comedy – famous for his brand of caustic, sometimes surrealist, political satire – worries about the role of comedy in this era of post-truth, populist politics. ‘I now find the political landscape so alien and awful that it’s hard to match the waves of cynicism it transmits on its own,’ he wrote in the New Statesman last year.

One of the running ideas in Iannucci’s work – from Alan Partridge to Selina Meyer – is the gap between puffed-up public image and paranoid private persona. Most recently, he’s been working on a feature film that might touch on these tensions again. It’s set in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and it’s called The Death of Stalin.

In conversation with Tony Martin, Iannucci discusses the predicaments and possibilities of political satire today.

Tony Martin and Armando Iannucci at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre — Photo: Johnboy Davidson

See also 2 May 2017 Note Offensive Charms: An Armando Iannucci Radio Primer  /  Radio

Guest post by Miyuki Jokiranta

Anything and everything in Words & language from across our archives.

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