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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 Mark Colvin, 1952–2017

Mark Colvin, 1952–2017  /  Biography & memoir

In this episode, we pay tribute to Mark Colvin, who died this morning. Colvin was one of the most trusted and revered figures in Australian journalism today.

We thought we'd share his recent Fifth Estate discussion with Sally Warhaft, recorded on 29 November 2016, in which he reflected on the release of his memoir, Light and Shadow, discussing the unlikely convergence of family and foreign affairs in his personal and professional lives, as well as four decades at the forefront of news reporting.

Colvin won the respect of generations of Australians through his work at the original Double J, his stint as the ABC’s correspondent in London and for his reporting on Australian politics and international conflicts. Today he’s known as the voice of ABC Radio’s current-affairs flagship PM and the darling of Australian Twitter.

Mark Colvin

Videos   GALAs 2015: On Five. A Gala Night of Storytelling.  /  Australian stories

With Mark Colvin, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Eddie Perfect and 9 others

  Is the concept of a country obsolete? Questions in a refugee crisis  /  Migration

With Geraldine Brooks, Tom Elliott, Voranai Vanijaka and 1 other

  Truth is stranger than fiction. Can fiction be stronger than truth? Geraldine Brooks and Mark Colvin  /  Books, reading & writing

With Geraldine Brooks and Mark Colvin

  What’s the ‘good’ in the good fight? Questions for ethical thinking in strange times  /  Ethics & morals

With Raimond Gaita, Alan Duffy, Gregory Phillips and 2 others

  The Fifth Estate: Mark Colvin  /  Biography & memoir

With Mark Colvin and Sally Warhaft

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