The Book Show | WAMC

The Book Show

Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Each week on The Book Show, host Joe Donahue interviews authors about their books, their lives and their craft. It is a celebration of both reading and writers. Joe holds interesting conversations with a variety of authors including Malcolm Gladwell, Lawrence Wright, and Emily St. John Mandel.

As the son of a librarian, Joe has been part of the book world since childhood. His first job was as a library assistant, during college he was a clerk at an independent book store and for the past 25 years he has been interviewing authors about their books on the radio.

He is also the host of The Roundtable on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, a 3-hour general interest talk show. Notable authors he has interviewed include: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, John Updike, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Anne Rice, Philip Roth, E.L Doctorow, Richard Russo, David Sedaris and Maya Angelou. 

Joe  has won several awards for his interviews, including honors from the Associated Press, the Edward R. Murrow Awards, the New York State Association of Broadcasters, The Headliners, The National Press Club and the Scripps-Howard Foundation. 

E-mail The Book Show.

Twitter: @The_Book_Show

Book cover for "Widespread Panic" by James Ellroy
Knopf / Knopf

From the modern master of noir James Ellroy comes the new novel “Widespread Panic” about the malevolent monarch of the 1950s Hollywood Underground. The novel is a tale of pervasive paranoia teeming with communist conspiracies, FBI finks, celebrity smut films, and strange bedfellows.

Book cover for "Falling" By TJ Newman
Avid Reader Press / Avid Reader Press

Former flight attendant T. J. Newman wrote much of her new novel, “Falling,” on cross-country red-eye flights while her passengers were asleep. “Falling” follows pilot Bill Hoffman after he’s been given an impossible choice: crash the plane he’s currently flying, or let his kidnapped family die.

Book cover for "The Vanishing Point"
Little Brown and Company / Little Brown and Company

Elizabeth Brundage’s new novel “The Vanishing Point” takes a close look at relationships, the mistakes we make early on that inform our destinies, and the troubling things we sometimes do in the name of love. 

Book cover for "A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
Knopf / Knopf

Megha Majumdar’s debut novel, "A Burning," is about three characters whose lives become entwined after a terrorist attack in India. Her taut, electrifying, and dazzling novel is rooted in history and place, "A Burning" is a page-turner about accusation and betrayal, innocence and guilt, longing and love.

Book cover for "The Plague Year"
Knopf / Knopf

Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and New Yorker staff writer whose new book, “The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid,” is an all-encompassing account of the Covid epidemic – its origins, its wide-ranging repercussions, and the ongoing global fight to contain it. 

Book cover for "This Country"
Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster

New York Times bestselling author and former host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews offers a panoramic portrait of post–World War II America through the story of his life and career in his new book, “This Country: My Life in Politics and History.”

Book cover for "Great Circle" by Maggie Shipstead
Knopf / Knopf

Maggie Shipstead’s new novel “Great Circle” tracks the lives of Marian Graves and her twin brother, Jamie, from Prohibition-era Missoula to wartime Britain, from the cold of Alaska to the cap of Antarctica as Marian chases her dream of becoming the first pilot to circumnavigate the globe north-south.

book cover for "The Devil May Dance" by Jake Tapper
Little Brown and Company / Little Brown and Company

CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent and New York Times best-selling author Jake Tapper’s new thriller, “The Devil May Dance,” is set in the Rat Pack world of the early 1960s where Tapper’s fictional congressman Charlie Marder and his zoologist wife, Margaret, are sucked into an investigation involving Hollywood and the mob by the attorney general, Robert Kennedy.

Book cover for "The Premonition" by Michael Lewis
Norton / Norton

Bestselling author Michael Lewis’s new book, “The Premonition: A Pandemic Story,” is a non-fiction thriller that pits a band of medical visionaries against the wall of ignorance that was the official response of the Trump administration to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Book cover for "Brat" By Andrew McCarthy
Simon & Schuster

Andrew McCarthy’s movie roles in “Pretty in Pink,” “St. Elmo's Fire,” “Weekend at Bernie's,” and “Less Than Zero” made him a star.  He's considered one of the so-called “Brat Pack” – which has come to represent both a genre of film and an era of pop culture. He writes about that decade of his life in “Brat: An '80s Story.”

Book cover for "The Committed"
Grove Press

Viet Thanh Nguyen's new novel, “The Committed,” is the long-awaited follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Sympathizer.”

It tells the story of a communist double agent and his blood brother, Bon, as they try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.

Modified Book cover artwork for "The Secret to Superhuman Strenght" by Alison Bechdel
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel is back and once again she has reinvented memoir, as she did with “Fun Home”, this time by telling her life story decade by decade through the lens of her lifelong obsession with exercise. Her new graphic memoir is “The Secret to Superhuman Strength.”

Book cover for "Northern Spy" by Flynn Berry

Flynn Berry, the Edgar Award-winning author of "Under the Harrow," has established herself as one of the best new voices in suspense. Her latest, "Northern Spy," is a thriller about the contemporary IRA, and two sisters who find themselves caught in the middle of the re-escalating sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

*Originally aired as The Book Show #1668.

Joe Donahue: Amity Gaige's new novel “Sea Wife” is a swift and thrilling literary page turner about a young family who escaped suburbia for a year-long sailing trip that up ends all of their lives. "Sea Wife" is told in dual perspective. Juliet's first-person narration after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea. And Michael's Captain's log which provides a slow motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions. Amity Gaige is the author of three novels, "O My Darling", "The Folded World", and "Schroder", which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize in 2014.

In Susan Conley’s new novel “Landslide,” a mother is caring for her two teenage sons while everything else, her marriage and the fishing industry her New England community relies on. threatens to crumble around her.

Book cover for "Foregone"
No Exit Press

Russell Banks, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, joins us this week to discuss his new novel, “Foregone.” In the novel we meet Canadian-American leftist documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife, one of sixty thousand draft evaders and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam.

Fife, now in his late seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal and has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his mythologized life.

This show was recorded as part of a virtual author event with Northshire Bookstore.

Book cover for "Transient Desires"
Grove Atlantic

Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti mystery novels explore myriad social issues facing the city of Venice, with Venetian architecture, language and food taking pride of place as the characters grapple with crime solving.

Her latest is “Transient Desires,” the thirtieth novel in the Brunetti series.

Author photo Imbolo Mbue and book cover for "How Beautiful We Were"
provided // Random House

New York Times best-selling novelist Imbolo Mbue’s new novel, "How Beautiful We Were," is a sweeping, wrenching story about the collision of a small African village and an American oil company.

Book cover - Dusk Night Dawn
Riverhead Books

In “Dusk, Night, Dawn,” best-selling author Anne Lamott explores the tough questions that many of us grapple with. How can we recapture the confidence we once had as we stumble through the dark times that seem increasingly bleak? We begin, Lamott says, by accepting our flaws and embracing our humanity.

Chang-rae Lee’s new novel “My Year Abroad” is the story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure, and about the human capacity for pleasure, pain, and connection.  

Book cover for "Under a White Sky"

  Elizabeth Kolbert is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of "The Sixth Extinction." In her new book, "Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future," Kolbert again writes about humanity’s transformative impact on the environment, now asking: After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?

Best-selling author Russell Shorto never thought to write about his own past. He grew up knowing his grandfather and namesake was a small-town mob boss but maintained an unspoken family vow of silence. Then an elderly relative prodded: "You’re a writer―what are you gonna do about the story?" The result is "Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob."

Book cover (paperback) for The Four Winds
St. Martin's Press

Kristin Hannah is the number-one bestselling author of "The Nightingale" and "The Great Alone." 

Her latest, "The Four Winds," is an American epic about love and heroism and hope set during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

Book cover for "The Prophets" By Robert Jones Jr.

Robert Jones, Jr., creator of the Son of Baldwin online community, has written a debut novel, "The Prophets," about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. 

Book cover for "Land" by Simon Winchester
Harper Collins

Simon Winchester - author of "The Professor and the Madman" and "The Perfectionists" - examines what we human beings are doing - and have done - with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet. His new book is "Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World."

Book cover for "Apeirogon"
Random House / Random House

National Book Award–winning and bestselling author Colum McCann’s latest, "Apeirogon," is an epic novel rooted in the unlikely real-life friendship between two fathers who recognize the loss that connects them and their attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

Book cover for "A Swim In A Pond in the Rain"
Random House / Random House

For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story at Syracuse University. In "A Swim in a Pond in the Rain," he shares a version of that class with us where he pairs iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, with essays intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

Book cover for Hieroglyphics
Provided: Algonquin Books

Jill McCorkle’s latest novel “Hieroglyphics” has been called a triumph, one that explores the physical and emotional imprints that make up a life. It reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you.

Bookcover artwork for "Perestroika in Paris"
Knopf / Knopf

Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including "A Thousand Acres," which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, The Last Hundred Years Trilogy: "Some Luck," "Early Warning," and "Golden Age." Her latest novel is: "Perestroika in Paris: A Novel" - it's about a racehorse who escapes and takes on the streets of Paris.

Joe Donahue: Emily St. John Mandel is the award winning author of “Station 11”. Her new novel, “The Glass Hotel” is set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events, a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea. In the story of crisis and survival, Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes, campgrounds for the near homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping service and luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. “The Glass Hotel” is a portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.