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. 

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Twitter: @The_Book_Show

Albany, NY – Derek Bok, retired president of Harvard, draws upon a great deal of empirical evidence in his new book "Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More." In this interview, Bok explains how some of the most important skills educators say are needed in the 21st century are no longer being adequately taught in America's colleges and universities.

Albany, NY – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina's guest on this show is obituary writer Marilyn Johnson, whose new book "The Dead Beat" offers a fascinating look at the history and evolution of the form and the people who proclaim themselves "obituary enthusiasts." Johnson also talks about the differences in the way other cultures handle the marking of notable deaths.

Albany, NY – Harlem in the early 1940's is the setting for the newest historical novel by Kevin Baker, "Strivers Row." Third in the author's "City of Fire" trilogy of New York novels, the book examines the parallel experiences of Jonah Dove, a Harlem clergyman undergoing a crisis of faith, and a directionless teenager named Malcolm Little who is destined to be known by another name. The novel recreates a Harlem at the end of its period as America's black capital and builds toward an explosive draft riot.

Albany, NY – Dara Horn's second novel, "The World to Come," traces the connections between Russian-born painter Marc Chagall and the New Jersey-based Ziskind family, particularly former child prodigy Ben Ziskind, who feels adrift in the present and steals a Chagall painting from a Jewish museum, believing that it once belonged to his family. Horn talks to Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina about her book's journey through the Ziskind family history and how the young author juggles writing and her own family life.

Albany, NY – Two anti-war protesters in the Vietnam era commit a crime that forces them to abandon their loved ones and their own identities in order to hide from authorities in Dana Spiotta's new novel "Eat the Document." The emotional costs of their decision and the ways in which subsequent generations adopt and distort 1970s counterculture are explored in the book and in this interview with the author conducted by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina.

Albany, NY – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina interviews science fiction author Octavia Butler about her novel "Parable of the Talents," about a woman in the not-too-distant future who founds her own religion. Gretchen talks to Butler about the novel's themes and why she prefers writing in the genre. The show is a repeat of one of Butler's infrequent interviews, and is being played in honor of the author, who passed on in late February.

Albany, NY – John Carlin's new book, "Masters of American Comics," traces the origins and meteoric rise of the medium by examining the works of 15 of its masters. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina discusses the history and appeal of comics with Carlin in this revealing interview.

Albany, NY – The Victorian-era true story of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took it upon himself to defend the wrongfully-accused George Edalji, a half-British, half-Indian son of a vicar, is the subject of "Arthur & George," Julian Barne's new book. Barnes talks with Gretchen about what the case has to say about British attitudes towards race in that period.

Albany, NY – Tom Lewis' new book "The Hudson: A History" traces the cultural and historical significance of the Hudson River, from the pivotal role it played in the Revolutionary War to the way it shaped the fortunes of New York State and thus the country. Lewis shares some insights from his book with Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina in this revealing interview.

Albany, NY – French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre practiced his philosophy through his unconventionally free relationship with lover Simone de Beauvoir, an early feminist and fellow writer. Their affair and the effect it had on those around them is the subject of "Tete-a-Tete," the new book by author Hazel Rowley. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to Rowley about what makes the book stand out from other scholarly works about the couple.

Albany, NY – A young, ambitious woman gets a journalism job in 1959 Miami and gets caught up in the city's culture of exiled Cuban revolutionaries in Gail Godwin's latest novel "Queen of the Underworld." Gretchen talks with the author about the process of writing the novel, which is partly based on Godwin's own experience working at a newspaper in Miami.

Albany, NY – A mystery set in a town near the American-Canadian border is told through the perspectives of a girl who can raise the dead, a woman in a nursing home, and even the town's animal and plant life in Kathryn Davis' new novel "The Thin Place." Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with Davis about the book's tale of loves lost and discovered.

Albany, NY – Gretchen interviews author Marge Piercy on her new book "Sex Wars: A Novel of the post-Civil War Period," which chronicles the struggles for womens' rights that took place during postbellum America.

Albany, NY – Author Paul Collins gives Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina and listeners a little history lesson on the subject of Revolutionary War pamphleteer Thomas Paine; specifically, what happened to the man's body and reputation after his death. It's the subject of Collins' new book, "The Trouble With Tom."

Albany, NY – In this week's show, Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina interviews Bob Spitz about his book "The Beatles: The Biography." The massive and exciting tome adds new wrinkles to the story of the world's most influential rock band.

Albany, NY – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina interviews author Leah Stewart about her novel "The Myth of You and Me," which tells the story of friends who have been separated from one another for a decade.

Albany, NY – Just when you thought no one could write another biography of Virginia Woolf, Julia Briggs comes up with a new approach: the inner life, as seen through the writing of the novels. Join host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina as she talks to Briggs about her book "Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life." Air date: 12/19/05.

Albany, NY – Caryl Phillips - Acclaimed author Phillips writes about Bert Williams, the most famous African American performer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in his latest novel, Dancing in the Dark. Air Date: 12/12/05

The Book Show #908

Albany, NY – On this weeks' Book Show, host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with author Adam Gopnik. Gopnik, whose previous book "Paris to the Moon" was a big bestseller, is back with a very different book about Paris. In his fantasy novel for all ages, "The King in the Window", Gopnick writes of a twelve-year-old boy who comes to the assistance of wraiths trapped in windows and mirrors--and ends up saving the universe. Air date: 12/5/05.

The Book Show #907

Albany, NY – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with Sara Bader about her new book "Strange Red Cow", a historical account of classified ads in the United States.

The Book Show #906

Albany, NY – On this week's Book Show Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with Ellen Cooney about her novel "Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies".
Taking place in turn-of-the-century Boston, a young woman finds herself staying at a hotel where woman are visited by young men at night.

The Book Show #905

Albany, NY – Host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to John Darnton. In his novel "The Darwin Conspiracy", Darnton imagines that the great man had a dark secret, only discovered by a pair of modern sleuths. Air date: 11/15/05.

The Book Show #904

Albany, NY – Host Gretchen Gerzina talks with Charles C. Mann. Assumptions about what the Americas were like before the arrival of Columbus have been overturned by archeologists and anthropoligists in recent years. Mann talks about his fascinating book 1491. Air date: 11/7/05