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Alejandro
 Dec 12, 2020

BruceS
 Nov 16, 2020
I didn't even know this existed until I stumbled onto it yesterday on the radio. so I did a search for podcast and was really happy to see that it had one. that was until I downloaded this episode and realized instead of getting an hour I got 12 minutes. extremely disappointed. The content was great, I would have liked all of it.

Description

Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.

Episode Date
The Comedian Megan Stalter on Finding Inspiration in American Absurdity
28:18

Before the pandemic, Megan Stalter was an unknown comedian, trying to catch a lucky break at clubs in New York City. But with the arrival of COVID-19, social media became her only outlet, and she quickly found an audience with her short-form, D.I.Y. character videos,  portraying the “breadth of American idiocy,” as Michael Schulman puts it, with such accuracy and heart that it’s hard to turn away. After her rise to Internet fame—she was dubbed the “queen of quarantine”—Stalter was offered the part of Kayla, the overprivileged and clueless assistant, on HBO’s hit series “Hacks.”  It was her first acting job.  Plus, Helen Rosner joins the chef Andy Baraghani in his home kitchen for a lesson on cauliflower ragu. Baraghani, best known for his YouTube cooking videos for Bon Appetit, is out with a new cookbook called “The Cook You Want to Be.”

May 17, 2022
The Battle After Roe v. Wade
20:51

Assuming that Justice Samuel Alito’s final opinion in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gets majority support, there will be profound social, political, and health-care implications across the United States.   Margaret Talbot, Peter Slevin and Jia Tolentino assess the world after Roe.  Opponents will surely not stop by leaving abortion at the state level but will try to ban it under federal law.  Tolentino discusses fetal personhood, the legal concept that a fertilized egg is entitled to full legal rights, which severely compromises the bodily autonomy of a pregnant woman.  There is already speculation that access to birth control and same-sex marriage could be challenged. “If people feel panicked about all those things, I wouldn’t invalidate that,” Tolentino says. But focussing on the immediate post-Roe future, she says, presents enough to worry about. “This is a universe of panic on its own. 

 

May 13, 2022
Stephanie Hsu on “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
20:54

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is in a genre all its own—you could call it sci-fi-martial-arts-family-drama.  Stephanie Hsu plays both Joy, an angsty teen-ager struggling with her immigrant mother, and Jobu, an omnipotent, interdimensional supervillain.  “The relationship between Evelyn and Joy in its simplest terms is very fraught,” Hsu tells Jia Tolentino.  “It’s the story of a relationship of a daughter who’s a lesbian who is deeply longing for her mother’s acceptance … but they keep chasing each other around in the universe and they can just never find one another. Until of course they launch into the multiverse and become nemeses.”

May 10, 2022
The Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi; and a Look at White Empathy
28:58

Last week, a draft opinion was leaked which suggests that a majority of Supreme Court Justices are ready to overturn the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that have guaranteed a right to abortion at the federal level.  The case in question is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which Mississippi officials seek to close the state’s last remaining abortion clinic under a law that bans performing an abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy—a point well before the time of fetal viability.  In November, Rachel Monroe visited the Jackson abortion clinic, speaking to its director, Shannon Brewer; a physician who asked to remain anonymous, describing the risks to abortion providers; and a patient, who had driven all night from Texas, where she was not able to obtain an abortion. “Somebody else is telling me what I should do with my body, and it’s not right,” she said. “It’s my body. It’s my decision. It’s my choice. It’s my life. It’s my soul, if it’s going to Hell.” Produced with assistance from Ezekiel Bandy and Kim Green. This segment originally aired November 19, 2021.  

Plus, the staff writer Alexis Okeowo talks with the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele about why the Ukrainian refugee crisis seems both familiar and startlingly different from conflicts in other parts of the world.

May 06, 2022
Rickie Lee Jones’s Life on the Road
21:56

Rickie Lee Jones emerged into the pop world fully formed; her début album was nominated for five Grammys, in 1980, and she won for Best New Artist. One of the songs on that record was “The Last Chance Texaco,” and Jones has made that the title of her recent memoir. The song evokes a service station on a long stretch of highway, and Jones’s book reflects on her almost obsessive need to travel and uproot herself at almost any cost. “All I wanted to do was leave” from a very young age, she says. “When I talk about it from here, it seems like it was so horribly dangerous.” She adds, “Suddenly I’ll [say], ‘I think I’ll go to Big Sur,’ and I’m in a car, going. But the chaos and trouble that brings to a life!” The producer Scott Carrier, who hosts the podcast “Home of the Brave,” interviewed Jones near her home in New Orleans.

This story originally aired April 9, 2021.

May 03, 2022
A Ukrainian Diplomat on the Future of Russian Aggression
26:16

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters a third month, prospects of ending the conflict are still nowhere in sight, and there seems to be no end to the destruction that Vladimir Putin is willing to inflict. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, tells David Remnick that he expects Russia to continue escalating its attack leading up to May 9th, a day of military celebration in Russia commemorating the German surrender in the Second World War. “They will escalate attacks by missiles from the sky to terrorize Ukraine in general,” he predicts, “and to make the government more susceptible to surrender.” 

 

In contrast to President Volodymyr Zelensky—who was a political rookie when he took office, in 2019—Kyslytsya has spent his career in Ukraine’s foreign service. In the years after the Soviet breakup, he says, Ukraine wanted to both placate its neighbor and ally itself with Western institutions. This created a “cognitive dissonance,” he says, that prevented Ukraine from recognizing the extent of Russian aggression. Having watched as diplomacy failed, Kyslytsya still has to separate his work from the personal toll of Russia’s invasion on his family and friends. “I try not to engage emotionally because if I engage emotionally too much, I am not operational,” he says. “And if I am not operational . . . I’m of very little use for my government.”

Apr 29, 2022
Viola Davis on Playing Michelle Obama, and Finding Her Voice as an Actor
30:23

The Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis traces her career in Hollywood back to a single moment of inspiration from her childhood: watching Cicely Tyson star in the 1974 movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” “I saw excellence and craft, and I saw transformation,” Davis tells David Remnick. “And more importantly, what it planted in me is that seed of—literally—I am not defined by the boundaries of my life.” In a new memoir, “Finding Me,” Davis writes of a difficult upbringing in Rhode Island, marked by poverty and an abusive father. She pursued her dream of attending the prestigious Juilliard School, but felt alienated by a white-focussed approach that left little room for her background or identity. She talks with Remnick about how she grew past these early challenges, the lingering impostor syndrome that many successful people experience, and how she prepared to play Michelle Obama in the series “The First Lady.” Plus, the cartoonist Liana Finck, a regular presence in The New Yorker, explains how a ride on the Long Island Rail Road gets her creative ideas flowing; she can work among people without anyone talking to her.

Apr 25, 2022
Ronan Farrow on the Threat of Modern Spyware
19:24

Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into a software called Pegasus and its maker, NSO Group. Pegasus is one of the most invasive spywares known; it allows users—including law-enforcement officials or government authorities—to hack into a target’s smartphone, gaining access to photos, messages, and the feeds from a camera or microphone. NSO markets Pegasus as a tool to catch terrorists and other violent criminals, but once a surveillance tool is on the market it can be very difficult to control. Farrow finds that Pegasus is being used to suppress political opposition in democratic nations, including Spain. The largest known cluster of Pegasus attacks has targeted people in Catalonia who support the independence movement, which the Spanish government views as a threat. “This is not just an information-gathering tool,” Farrow tells David Remnick; “It’s an intimidation tactic, and it works.”

Apr 22, 2022
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” and a Short History of Movies about the Internet
17:39

The Internet can be a scary place in real life, and far more so in Jane Schoenbrun’s film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” which premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year and is being released in theatres and streaming. It’s a horror movie centered on a lonely and bored teen-age girl named Casey, who spends most of her time being online and trying to figure out who she is. She undertakes a ritual that she’s read about—the so-called World’s Fair Challenge—which is said to cause unknown and possibly dire changes. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Do you think the Internet is good or the Internet is bad?’ ” Schoenbrun told the Radio Hour’s Alex Barron. “That’s like asking, ‘Do you think that people are good or bad?’ There’s not a simple answer.” They spoke about the forty-year history of movies depicting the online world.

Apr 19, 2022
Jennifer Egan on the Literary Pleasures of the Concept Album
32:01

Jennifer Egan’s new novel, “The Candy House,” one of the most anticipated books of the year, has just been published. It is related—not a sequel exactly, but something like a sibling—to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” from 2010. That earlier book was largely about the music business, and Egan, a passionate music fan, has described its unusual structure as having been inspired by the concept albums of her youth. “The very nature of a concept album is that it tells one big story in small pieces that sound very different from each other and that sort of collide,” she tells David Remnick. “I thought, How would I do that narratively? I ask myself that all the time.” We asked Egan to speak about three concept albums that influenced her, and she picked The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” about a disaffected, working-class mod in the nineteen-sixties; Patti Smith’s “Horses”; and Eminem’s “Recovery.”  Plus, a story about two young boys, obsessed with basketball cards, who schemed to get a rare triptych card from a third friend. Decades later, their ill-gotten prize might be worth a lot of money—but whose money is it? The staff writer Charles Bethea looks at the grown-up consequences of a childhood prank.

Apr 12, 2022
Anita Hill and Jane Mayer on Ketanji Brown Jackson, and the State of the Supreme Court
18:05

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been voted in as a Supreme Court Justice—the first Black woman to serve in that role. But, to reach this milestone, Jackson has faced enormous hurdles at every turn, including confirmation hearings that featured blatant political grandstanding and barely disguised race-baiting. Nominations have become so partisan that, on both the left and the right, the Court itself is commonly viewed as merely a tool of the party that picked its members, and several polls report a decline in public confidence in the Court. “The real political end” of the attacks on Brown Jackson, Hill believes, “is to denigrate her personally, honestly, but also to really reduce the validity of any opinions that she ultimately writes. Even though . . . many of her opinions will be dissenting opinions, dissenting opinions can carry a lot of weight.” Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas’s decision not to recuse himself from cases related to the January 6th insurrection, even after it came to light that his wife Ginni Thomas actively sought to influence Trump Administration officials to try to overturn the Presidential election, also undercuts the court’s impartiality. It seems that the reputation and independence of the Court is in serious trouble. 

Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, spoke with David Remnick about the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings, along with the staff writer Jane Mayer, who is reporting on the Ginni Thomas controversy. (Hill, who testified in the 1991 Thomas nomination hearings, has declined to speak about his stance on recusal.)

Apr 08, 2022
The Missing Boater
20:19

Dick Conant spent years of his life crisscrossing America by canoe, like a Mark Twain character. On land, he worked a variety of jobs and was often homeless, but paddling on a river, he was king. By chance, on a voyage which began near the Canadian border, on his way to Florida, Conant met Ben McGrath, a New Yorker staff writer, outside McGrath’s home on the Hudson River. McGrath’s piece about Conant appeared in the December 14, 2015, issue of The New Yorker this week; here, he tells the story of a troubled man who found refuge in adventure.

Ben McGrath’s book about Conant, “Riverman: An American Odyssey,” will be published in April. 

Originally aired December 11, 2015.

 

Apr 05, 2022
Investigating January 6th
28:44

With a judge declaring that Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony in his attempt to overturn the Presidential election, the congressional committee investigating January 6th is racing to finish its work before the looming midterm elections. Amy Davidson Sorkin and the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen talk with David Remnick about the law and the politics of holding Trump accountable. And the music writer Sheldon Pearce shares three artists that didn’t get their due in the Grammy nominations. 

Apr 01, 2022
Connor Ratliff Talks with Sarah Larson, Plus Chef Bryant Terry
29:06

An aspiring actor named Connor Ratliff thought he had it made when he got a small part on the 2001 miniseries “Band of Brothers,” in an episode directed by Hollywood legend Tom Hanks. The day before shooting his scene, Ratliff was unceremoniously fired by Hanks, who said the rookie had “dead eyes.” It was a life-altering disappointment for Ratliff. He told Sarah Larson how he came to launch the podcast “Dead Eyes,” which explores failure as a universal part of life—in show business and beyond. When Ratliff was able to land Tom Hanks as a guest on the show, fans thought their interview would bring “Dead Eyes” to a close. But Ratliff has other ideas. Plus, Helen Rosner talks with the cookbook author and food-justice activist Bryant Terry about uplifting diverse traditions in Black cooking and reclaiming veganism from white hipsters.

Mar 29, 2022
Jill Lepore on Parents’ Rights and the Culture War
18:21

A wave of book bannings sweeping the country, along with conservative fury over titles like “Antiracist Baby,” seems like a backlash against the heightened racial consciousness of the post-George Floyd era. The historian and staff writer Jill Lepore sees these conflicts as the continuation of an old dynamic. She relates today’s “anti-anti-racism” movement to the anti-evolution campaign of the nineteen-twenties, which included the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher for teaching Darwin’s theory in a high-school class. Lepore tells David Remnick that what links these battles over biology and history is the argument that parents have the right to determine their children’s education in public schools.

Mar 25, 2022
Returning to the Office . . . While Black
19:49

Coming back to work is partially about surveillance and micromanagement,” Keisha, a podcasting executive, says. “Everybody feels it, but people of color feel it in a different way.” For workers who have been remote for the better part of two years, returning to the office is undeniably complicated. For some Black workers who didn’t feel at ease in majority-white offices to begin with, the complications are even greater. Racial microaggressions abound, and, for some, the stress of excessive visibility that comes with being a minority never goes away. “I would love to be ‘feet on the couch relaxed,’ like some of my colleagues in the past,” Keisha says, but “I don’t know if I could allow myself that.” As an entrepreneur named James put it, “Black folks aren’t really allowed to have bad days.” 

 

The Radio Hour’s KalaLea talks with four Black professionals and compares their experience to that of Robert Churchwell, a Black reporter hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950. Churchwell was excluded from the white newsroom and worked from home for five years.  

 

Audio from an interview with Robert Churchwell comes from the Civil Rights Oral History Project, Special Collections, Nashville Public Library.

Mar 22, 2022
Radio Ukraine
30:45

Kraina FM is a radio station that broadcasts in Kyiv and more than twenty other cities, playing Ukrainian-language rock and pop. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it took on the mantle of “the station of national resistance,” airing news bulletins and logistical information like requests for supplies. The radio hosts began adding jokes about the invading Russians, and advice from a psychologist about talking to children about the war; a writer told fairy tales on air to occupy those kids during the stressful nights of wartime. The station staff has dispersed, with Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, the general manager, and Roman Davydov, the program director, holed up in a town in the Carpathians, keeping production moving over unreliable Internet and communicating with listeners by text. They don’t know how many of their broadcasting stations are still functioning, and their tower in Kyiv could be destroyed at any time. But “we are not doing anything heroic,” Bolkhovetsky told Nicolas Niarchos, who visited their makeshift studio. “We are still in a lot of luck, having what we have right now. Thousands of people were not so lucky as we are. . . . We’re just doing what we can under these unusual circumstances.” Plus, we present the 2022 Brody Awards—the critic Richard Brody’s assessment of the best performances and the best films of the year.

Mar 18, 2022
Jane Campion on “The Power of the Dog”
30:32

Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” opens like a classic Western: cattle are herded across the sweeping plains of Montana, with imposing mountains in the distance. But the plot of the film, based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, isn’t exactly a Western. It’s a family drama about two brothers who share in the ranching business but couldn’t be more different, and what happens when one of them brings his new wife and her teen-age son to live on the ranch. “The Power of the Dog” is nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the most of any film this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Campion talks with David Remnick about Benedict Cumberbatch’s starring performance; her experience working with Harvey Weinstein, and how #MeToo has changed the film industry; and why she’d really like to direct a comedy. Plus, Caetano Veloso, a living giant of Brazilian music, was recently profiled for The New Yorker by Jonathan Blitzer. The staff writer picks some key tracks from Veloso’s vast catalogue that illuminate his long career.

Mar 15, 2022
Stephen Kotkin: Don’t Blame the West for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
19:58

It’s impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin’s aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.

Mar 11, 2022
Pauline Kael on “The Godfather”
7:28

As The New Yorker’s film critic from 1968 to around 1991, the influential Pauline Kael gave voice to her visceral reactions: she wrote as a moviegoer, not a cineaste. Fifty years ago, in the March 10, 1972, issue, she wrote about a new film by the hot-shot young director Francis Ford Coppola. “If ever there was a great example of how the best popular movies come out of a merger of commerce and art,” Kael wrote, “ ‘The Godfather’ is it.” She noted that Coppola took Mario Puzo’s potboiler of a novel, and the familiar outline of the gangster melodrama, and imbued them with “a new tragic realism,” which reflected a darker view of Americanism in the Watergate era. 

Edie Falco performs an excerpted version of Kael’s review. 


Some of Pauline Kael’s best work for The New Yorker is collected in “The Age of Movies,” published by the Library of America.

Mar 08, 2022
Masha Gessen and Joshua Yaffa on the Escalation of Violence in Ukraine
41:57

Joshua Yaffa is a Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker, but he has been travelling throughout the war zone in Ukraine for weeks, reporting on the Russian invasion. Masha Gessen, who has lived in and reported from Russia in the past, returned to Moscow to write about the Russian people’s response to the invasion. Yaffa and Gessen spoke with David Remnick on March 3rd about the week’s escalation of violence, and what Putin’s goal might be.

Plus, David Remnick speaks with Igor Novikov, an Internet researcher and entrepreneur who served as an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Novikov explains how Zelensky’s background as an actor and a comedian has given him an advantage in the West’s “attention economy.” Ukraine “will only survive if people pay attention,” Novikov notes, and must “make sure people understand who the perpetrator and who the victim is in this situation.”

 

Mar 04, 2022
Sheryl Lee Ralph on Confronting Hollywood
26:10

Sheryl Lee Ralph has been a staple of Black entertainment for decades. She played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls,” and was in “Sister Act 2” alongside Lauryn Hill and Whoopi Goldberg. She’s currently starring in the new ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” Her decades-long career gives her a unique perspective on how the industry has changed since she started—and how it hasn’t. “I think that, sometimes in order for institutions like Broadway to truly make room for others, you’ve got to break it down,” she tells The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham. “Because you’ve got to help people see things differently, outside of their own vision. And, even if it’s 20/20, it’s not perfect.”

Mar 01, 2022
How Black Creators Are Changing Hollywood
28:54

In the past few years, it seems a floodgate has opened, releasing a deluge of tremendously successful media that centers the Black experience. “Get Out,” “Black Panther,” and HBO’s “Watchmen” are just some of the big-budget prestige projects that have drawn huge audiences and dominated the cultural conversation. The New Yorker Radio Hour looks at this moment in Black entertainment and investigates the industry forces behind it in a special episode, produced by Ngofeen Mputubwele. A film scholar explains the complicated history between studios and Black audiences.

And Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” tells David Remnick about the doors the Obama Presidency opened for Black creators in Hollywood.

Feb 25, 2022
How Should President Biden Respond to Putin’s War on Ukraine?
26:40

Since last summer, Russian troops have been amassing on the Ukrainian border, and, in recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin warned that he intended a military takeover of Ukraine. This week, Russia began the war, with widespread attacks, including in the capital, Kyiv, aimed at crippling the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on civilians to enlist in the military to fight the invaders. The U.S. and nato are levying heavy sanctions against the Russians, but there are disagreements within the U.S. and among western allies about exactly how to proceed. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the war, and the choices faced by the Biden administration and nato.

Feb 24, 2022
Peter Dinklage on “Cyrano”
16:43

Joe Wright’s film “Cyrano,” nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, was based on Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name. Peter Dinklage starred in both, as the unattractive but lovestruck swashbuckler of the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Dinklage spoke with Michael Schulman in 2019, and said that Cyrano’s predicament is not really about his famously giant schnoz; it is about “everyone’s capacity to not feel worthy of love.” Dinklage also spoke about the ending of “Game of Thrones,” which had taken place a few months earlier. Fans were still freaking out about Daenerys’s turn to brutality at the series’ end, and Dinklage had little sympathy. “Monsters are created. We vote them into office. . . . Maybe [fans] should have waited for the series finale before you get that tattoo, or name your golden retriever Daenerys. I can’t help you.”

 

This segment originally aired December 20, 2019.

Feb 22, 2022
Nicholas Britell on the Art of the Film Score
18:07

Nicholas Britell has emerged as one of the most in-demand film composers working today, creating original music for projects that hew to no style or model. He wrote the infuriatingly catchy theme of HBO’s “Succession”; he is nominated for an Academy Award for the score of Adam McKay’s manic apocalypse comedy “Don’t Look Up”; he was previously nominated for his score for Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight.” In 2017, Britell spoke with the New Yorker editor Henry Finder on the occasion of the release of “Battle of the Sexes,” about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. 

 

This segment originally aired September 22, 2017.

Feb 18, 2022
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Path Forward for the Left
48:24

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent progressives in Washington. Her political ascent began with her shocking 2018 defeat of a longtime incumbent in a New York district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. She is a strong advocate of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. With her party’s razor-thin majorities now in peril, many of her priorities seem out of reach. Can the agenda she was elected to advance survive? 

Ocasio-Cortez reflects on her time in Washington with David Remnick, painting a dysfunctional portrait of Congress. “Honestly, it is a shit show,” she says. “It’s scandalizing, every single day. What is surprising to me is how it never stops being scandalizing.”

This conversation is part of The New Yorker’s first digital-only issue, a special collection of New Yorker Interviews.

Feb 14, 2022
On Cancel Culture and the State of Free Speech
49:22

Every few weeks, it seems, another example of so-called cancel culture is dominating the headlines and trending on social-media platforms. The refrain “you can’t say anything these days” has become a slogan of cultural politics, particularly on the right. And yet there’s a wide gulf of opinion on what the term “cancelling” means—and whether the phenomenon even exists. In this special episode, we examine the issue with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the YouTube video creator Lindsay Ellis, the comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff, and the writers Jay Caspian Kang and William Deresiewicz.

Feb 11, 2022
David Remnick Talks with Lee Child, the Creator of Jack Reacher
30:14

Lee Child didn’t start writing novels until he lost a prestigious job producing TV in England during a shakeup that he attributes to Rupert Murdoch. He tried his hand at writing a thriller, and found that the new career suited him: with a hundred million copies of his books in print in forty languages, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels make up one of the most successful series in print. Every September 1st, he sits down to write a new one. He tells his longtime fan David Remnick that his all-American tough guy is a modern-day knight-errant wandering the land doing good deeds. But, at sixty-seven, Child has thought about giving Reacher up. What would he do instead? Catch up on his own reading, finally getting around to Jane Austen and other classics. “Remember, I’m from Europe,” he points out. “I have no work ethic.” Plus, the contributor Graciela Mochkofsky on three classics of Argentinean music that she hated growing up, but came to embrace while living in America under COVID.

Feb 08, 2022
Black Thought Takes the Stage
19:43

Tariq Trotter, best known in music as Black Thought, the emcee of the Roots, is regarded by many hip-hop fans as one of the best freestyle rappers ever. His work changed shape when the Roots became the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, and again when he began performing standup comedy. “I’ve spent most of my career with my sunglasses and my hat pulled down low, very many layers of defense,” he tells Jelani Cobb. “You’re up there as a comedian, it’s just you and your ideas and a microphone, no light show, no band. . . . After having done this for over thirty years, what else can I do, how can I become a better storyteller?” Trotter’s latest endeavor has been writing the music and lyrics for “Black No More,” a musical-theatre production based on the eponymous novel, by George Schuyler;  the script is by John Ridley, with direction by Scott Elliott. Schuyler’s book is a dark satire, written during the Harlem Renaissance, that describes the development of a “cure” for Blackness; Trotter stars as Dr. Junius Crookman, who believes that this remedy will solve America’s problems with race. “My focus became almost rapping as little as possible” in the show, Trotter says; “I wanted this to be above and beyond folks’ expectations.” 

“Black No More” is in previews at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It opens February 15th.

Feb 04, 2022
Guillermo del Toro and Bradley Cooper on the Enduring Appeal of Noir
19:29

Guillermo del Toro has been called the leading fantasy filmmaker of this century. His movies include “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” and “The Shape of Water,” which won four Academy Awards in 2018, including Best Picture and Best Director. He joined David Remnick to talk about his new film, “Nightmare Alley,” along with Bradley Cooper, who plays Stanton Carlisle, a grifter who seems to want to do the right thing but is unable to resist the pull of the con. Based on a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” is del Toro’s first film that isn’t somewhere in the fantasy genre; its dark depiction of American life is grounded in film noir. “We went to the root of it, American existentialism,” del Toro says, citing sources like the novel “The Day of the Locust” and the paintings of Edward Hopper. “It’s a discovery of America reckoning with its own ideals and its reality,” and a sense of tragic fate. “We knew that we needed to create not an up-and-down structure but a very steady, inexorable ramp.” The film, which was released in theatres in December, during the surge of the Omicron variant, begins streaming February 1st.

Feb 01, 2022
Russia’s Intentions in Ukraine—and America
30:48

“They push buttons,” says Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale. “What button of ours are they pushing here? What are they trying to get us to do?” Vladimir Putin is posturing toward a costly invasion of Ukraine, on the false pretext of protecting Russian-language speakers in the country. Why? In a wide-ranging conversation, Snyder talks with David Remnick about how to understand Russia’s aggression, the idea advanced by Putin that Ukraine historically and rightfully belongs to Russia, and the dictator’s far-reaching goal of destabilizing NATO. Snyder is the author of the Second World War history “Bloodlands,” as well as “The Road to Unfreedom” and “On Tyranny”—which warn of the dangers that imperil American democracy. Running an oligarchy in which corruption is universal, Putin “is basically stuck with spectacle, distractions—the old bread and circuses idea,” Snyder says, “but also is working from a situation where you want to bring other countries down to your level. . . . With that, you can understand their intervention in our elections, or the way they talk about us: they want to bring out the elements of us, both rhetorically and in reality, that are most like the way they run the country.” Putin’s governance of Russia and his foreign policy, in other words, are intricately entangled. “I tend to think [the threat of invasion] is about the Biden Administration, in a pretty fundamental way,” Snyder believes. “If your goal is to undermine NATO—let’s accept that that is their sincere goal—who do you want to be President? Trump.” The crisis, he says, “puts Biden in a very bad position. It’s very hard for Biden to look strong. . . . Insofar as there is a strategy here, it’s about dividing NATO members and putting pressure on the Biden Administration.”

Jan 28, 2022
The Trials of a Whistle-blower
27:09

As a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center—a Georgia facility run by LaSalle Corrections, a private company operating an immigration-detention contract with ICE—Dawn Wooten became aware of some frightening violations, including numerous hysterectomies and other medical procedures performed without patient consent. When she asked questions, she was demoted and eventually pushed out. Wooten supplied critical information for two complaints about I.C.D.C., which were submitted to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security. The complaints were first reported in The Intercept in September, 2020, and then covered widely in the national press. Last May, in a victory for Wooten, the detained women who spoke up about their mistreatment, and the advocacy groups that had fought on their behalf, ICE ended its I.C.D.C. contract with LaSalle. Wooten’s own troubles, however, had just begun. Receiving death threats and kidnapping threats, she and her five children stayed under security in a series of hotels. Her whistle-blower-retaliation complaint with the federal government is still awaiting a finding, as the Office of the Inspector General has requested two extensions on its legally required deadlines. Meanwhile, Wooten found that hardly anyone would hire a nurse who had made front-page headlines: despite her twelve years of experience, she was rejected from more than a hundred jobs during a national nursing shortage. She couldn’t get hired at McDonald’s. Wooten, and the detained women who shared their stories at great risk, are still awaiting justice. For Sarah Stillman, who covers immigration for The New Yorker, Wooten’s case draws attention to the fact that low-wage whistle-blowers, in particular, can face almost insurmountable obstacles to coming forward to expose wrongdoing.

Jan 25, 2022
The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World
22:11

Much has changed since China last hosted the Olympics, during the 2008 Summer Games. Those Games were widely seen as greatly improving China’s international reputation. But the 2022 Winter Games have put a spotlight instead on its human-rights abuses, most notably the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and Kazakhs. Peter Hessler, for many years The New Yorker’s China correspondent, asks David Remnick, “When an athlete says something about the internment camps in Xinjiang, and the oppression of Muslim people in China, what is the Chinese response going to be? The I.O.C. has really left them out there.” The sports reporter Louisa Thomas notes that these Games may garner little American support or attention, with few big-name American athletes for NBC to promote. “I even have a lot of friends who have no idea there’s about to be an Olympics,” Thomas says. Plus, at the Beijing pizzeria Pie Squared, the owner, Asher Gillespie, glumly assesses the Olympics boom that isn’t coming. With ticket sales halted and the events in a bubble, he says, “We're going to be watching from TV just like everybody else.” 

Jan 21, 2022
Hilton Als and Emma Cline on the Late Joan Didion
18:03

Joan Didion tried and failed, she said, “to think”; that is, to write about abstractions and symbols, and make grand arguments in the manner of the New York intellectuals of her time. Instead, the California native—who died in December, at the age of eighty-seven—built her work around close observation of American life as she saw it, withholding judgment. And while many of her intellectual contemporaries belong now to a bygone era, “for my generation,” Emma Cline notes, “her influence is so massive.” Cline’s best-selling novel “The Girls” is set in nineteen-sixties California, on the fringes of a cult—what we might think of as Didion country. “I almost can’t think of a writer who is more of a touchstone for every writer that I know.” In fact, younger writers need to “unlearn” her voice, Hilton Als tells David Remnick, in order to find their own. Als notes that Didion eventually rejected the persona of her early works, which was imbued with white female fragility; and she was prophetic, he notes, in placing race and gender at the center of America’s battles. 

 

Since Joan Didion’s death, The New Yorker has published Postscripts by Als, Cline, Zadie Smith, and Nathan Heller. Some of Didion’s own contributions to The New Yorker can be found here

Jan 18, 2022
The Biden Presidency, Year One
31:51

President Biden took the oath of office in a moment of deep crisis—the pandemic in full swing and just weeks after an unprecedented attempt to overturn the election by violence. Merely a return to normalcy would have been a tall order. But Biden was promising something more: a transformational agenda that would realign American economics and life on a scale rivalling Franklin Roosevelt’s long Presidency. Yet Biden never commanded Roosevelt’s indomitable popularity and electoral advantages. A year into the Administration, Evan Osnos takes stock of its successes, failures, and ongoing challenges, along with four New Yorker colleagues: Susan B. Glasser on legislation, Jonathan Blitzer on immigration, Elizabeth Kolbert on climate, and John Cassidy on the economy.

Jan 14, 2022
Nnedi Okorafor on Sci-Fi Through an African Lens
23:32

Nnedi Okorafor, a recipient of the prestigious Hugo Award, is a prolific writer of science-fiction and fantasy novels for adults and young adults. She spoke with Vinson Cunningham about how her Nigerian American heritage influenced her interest in fantastical worlds. “It’s part of the culture—this mysticism,” she says. “I wanted to write about those mystical things that people talked about but didn’t talk about because they were mysterious and interesting, and sometimes forbidden.” Her novel “Akata Woman,” which comes out this month, is the third in a series that also acknowledges complicated relationships among peoples of the African diaspora. Plus, Julian Lucas is a passionate gamer, with a particular interest in video games as a form of landscape art. He walks David Remnick through the forthcoming game Norco, a highly anticipated thriller set in coastal Louisiana.

Jan 11, 2022
A New Civil War in America?
26:45

When rioters, encouraged by the President, stormed the Capitol, one year ago, to overturn the results of the election, the idea that such a thing could play out in America was stunning. But the attack may have been just the beginning of an ongoing insurrection, not a failed attempt at a coup. David Remnick talks with Barbara F. Walter, the author of the new book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.” Walter is a political scientist and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-director of the online magazine Political Violence at a Glance. She has studied countries that slide into civil war for the C.I.A., and she says that the United States meets many of the criteria her group identified. In particular, anti-democratic trends such as increased voting restrictions point to a nation on the brink. “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.” 

Jan 07, 2022
The Power of Police Unions
24:16

The repeal of Section 50-A of the New York State Civil Rights Law was no technical change. Passed in the wake of the George Floyd protests, it was a big victory for police-reform activists. 50-A shielded the disciplinary records of police officers, meaning that, in an officer-involved killing, for example, neither lawyers, journalists, nor the victim’s family could determine if the officer had a history of disciplinary incidents. Laws like 50-A—and there are similar laws in many states—have played a big role in blocking police accountability. Because of the powerful influence of police unions, changing them is not easy, even for left-leaning politicians who champion reform. The New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan examines how the fight against 50-A was won. At the center of the story are the fraught relationships among politicians, protesters, and law enforcement. 

 

This segment originally aired July 31, 2020.

Jan 04, 2022
Amanda Gorman on Life After Inauguration
25:38

One year ago, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day that Joe Biden became President. Gorman was just twenty-two years old, and it was just two weeks after Trump supporters had assaulted the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the election. At the ceremony, Gorman herself seemed to cast light on a dark situation. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” reads, “When day comes, we ask ourselves: / Where can we find light / In this never-ending shade? / The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. / We’ve braved the belly of the beast.” The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young, wrote that her poem was “as vibrant and elegant as her yellow coat against the cold.” After that very public début, Gorman found the stakes of writing the poems for her new collection, “Call Us What We Carry,” to be impossibly high. (It was excerpted in The New Yorker with readings by Gorman.) She spoke with Young about being an inaugural poet—following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander—in a conversation from The New Yorker’s Poetry Podcast.

Dec 31, 2021
For a French Burglar, Stealing Masterpieces Is Easier Than Selling Them
21:23

Vjeran Tomic has been stealing since he was a small child, when he used a ladder to break into a library in his home town, in Bosnia. After moving to Paris, he graduated to lucrative apartment burglaries, living off the jewels he took and often doing time in prison. He became known in the French press as Spider-Man, and he began to steal art. Tomic has a grand sense of his calling as a burglar; he considers it his destiny and has described his robberies as acts of imagination. He eventually carried out a truly epic heist: a break-in at the Musée d’Art Moderne, in Paris, in which he left with seventy million dollars’ worth of paintings. But selling these masterpieces proved harder than stealing them, and that’s where Spider-Man’s troubles began. The contributor Jake Halpern tells Vjeran Tomic’s story; excerpts from Tomic’s letters from prison are read by the actor Jean Brassard.  

 

This segment was previously aired in 2019.

Dec 28, 2021
Rhiannon Giddens, Americana’s Queen, Goes Global
29:52

By the standards of any musician, Rhiannon Giddens has taken a twisting and complex path. Trained as an operatic soprano at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory, Giddens fell almost by chance into the study of American folk music. Alongside two like-minded musicians, she formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she plays banjo and sings. The group is focussed on reviving the nearly forgotten repertoire of Black Southern string bands, but the audience for acoustic music remains largely white. Giddens tells David Remnick she was heartbroken that her largest Black audience was at a prison concert. “The gatekeepers of Black culture are not interested in what I’m doing,” she says. “This is a complaint I’ve heard from many, many people of color who do music that’s not considered Black—hip-hop, R. & B.” Her view of Black music is more expansive: “There’s been black people singing opera and writing classical music forever.” As a solo artist, Giddens is moving increasingly further afield from African American and American music; her new album, “There Is No Other,” recorded in Dublin in collaboration with the musician Francesco Turrisi, explores folk styles from the Middle East, Europe, and Brazil, as well as early America. She and Turrisi perform “Wayfaring Stranger,” the ancient ballad “Little Margaret,” and the tarantella “Pizzica di San Vito.” 

 

This segment was previously aired in 2019.

Dec 24, 2021
When Snow Came to San Juan
27:45

For several years in the early nineteen-fifties, Puerto Rico received snow, right around Christmas. Children in San Juan rode a sled and had a giant snowball fight in the tropical weather. It wasn’t a miracle, or a meteorological outlier. The snow was a gift from San Juan’s longtime mayor, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, who had fallen in love with snow during her years in New York. It was delivered by Eastern Airlines, which milked the publicity for all it was worth. A young New Hampshire girl escorted one delivery, wearing a hat and a cable-knit sweater. The snow didn’t cost Puerto Rico anything, but it certainly came with strings attached. At a time when the independence movement was being harshly suppressed, in favor of a continued colonial relationship with the United States, the fetishization of the northern “white Christmas” reads to some as a gesture of cultural imperialism that has never quite ended. And even recently—as the island still faces routine blackouts of its electrical grid, years after Hurricane Maria—the mayor of a small town proposed building an ice-skating rink. WNYC’s Alana Casanova-Burgess reports on why the snow came, and what it meant to Puerto Ricans. 

Our story was produced in collaboration with “La Brega,” from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios.

Dec 21, 2021
Is the Gift of Tuition Enough?
22:46

Élite schools are trying hard to recruit students of color and students who are less well-off financially; Yale University, as one example, now covers full tuition for families making less than seventy-five thousand dollars. Yet, many of these students find that the experience and the culture of a selective private university may remain challenging. Even a full-ride scholarship may not meet the needs of a student from a poor or working-class family. The New Yorker Radio Hour’s KalaLea spent time at Trinity College with Manny Rodriguez, who was then a senior, working three jobs to cover his expenses and help his family. They met before the Thanksgiving break, where Rodriguez remained on campus picking up extra shifts. He could not afford the airfare to visit his mother. Often late for classes, unable to meet professors during office hours, and deeply anxious about expenses that many of his classmates wouldn’t notice, Rodriguez explains the ways that college is not structured for people like himself. “I feel like I’ve struggled to finish,” he says, “and I’m going to be crawling on my graduation day.”

Dec 17, 2021
Millennial Writers Reflect on a Generation’s Despair
31:58

The eldest millennials turned forty this year, and the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele comments on a sense of despair he finds in his generation, having to do with the state of the planet, the nation, the Internet, intolerance, and more. He set out to explore why millennials feel hopeless and how they can live with that feeling, in conversations with five writers: Kaveh Akbar, the author of “Pilgrim Bell”; Carlos Maza, the creator of the video essay “How to Be Hopeless; Shauna McGarry, a writer on “BoJack Horseman”; Patrick Nathan, the author of “Image Control: Art, Facism, and the Right to Resist”; and the climate activist Daniel Sherrell, whose recent memoir is “Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World.”

Dec 14, 2021
Paul Thomas Anderson, Poet Laureate of the San Fernando Valley
18:03

Paul Thomas Anderson first made a splash in Hollywood with his film “Boogie Nights,” a portrait of the porn industry that burgeoned in the San Fernando Valley, the much-mocked suburbs of Los Angeles. Anderson is a Valley native, and proud to live there still. “There was a terrific story right in my own back yard,” he told David Remnick. “I guess at some point, I probably read ‘Write what you know.’ I was, like, Well, that’s a good place to start.” Many of Anderson’s films—such as “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Inherent Vice”—tell stories from Southern California’s past and present. Anderson’s new film, “Licorice Pizza,” returns to that terrain. It portrays the thorny relationship between a teen-aged boy and a twenty-five-year-old woman, and the pair’s misadventures in the Valley of the mid-seventies. Anderson, who could recruit any stars in Hollywood, instead cast two newcomers as his leads: Alana Haim (a musician in the indie band HAIM) and Cooper Hoffman. Anderson spoke to David Remnick from his home in—where else?—the Valley.

Dec 10, 2021
Life After Prison
19:23

As a kid, Jonathan was good at soccer and making friends. But by the age of eighteen, he was a drug dealer facing his first serious conviction. For his third conviction, although the charges were for nonviolent offenses, he received a twenty-one-year prison sentence. In 2019, after serving seventeen years, he was released under the First Step Act, a bipartisan prison-reform bill that has helped to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine for some federal prisoners. In total, Jonathan has spent twenty-five years behind bars. Now, as a middle-aged former felon, he faces a world full of hazards and struggles with the unintended consequences of a long sentence. (Jonathan’s real name has been withheld, in order to protect his family’s privacy.) 

 

Also, David Remnick speaks with Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety,” about long prison sentences and how the goal of incarceration has shifted from “correction” to warehousing people for as long as possible.  

 

This podcast was originally released on January 17, 2020. 

Dec 07, 2021
Mass Incarceration, Then and Now
31:15

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. But, until the publication of Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow,” in 2010, most people didn’t use the term “mass incarceration,” or consider the practice a social-justice issue. Alexander argued that the increasing imprisonment of Black and brown men—through rising arrest rates and longer sentences—was not merely a response to crime but a system of racial control. “The drug war was in part a politically motivated strategy, a backlash to the civil-rights movement, but it was also a reflection of conscious and unconscious biases fuelled by media portrayals of drug users,” Alexander tells David Remnick. “Those racial stereotypes were resonant of the same stereotypes of slaves and folks during the Jim Crow era.” Plus, a conversation with Reginald Dwayne Betts, who discovered poetry while in solitary confinement, during a prison sentence for a carjacking that he committed when he was sixteen. Betts reads a poem, which appears in his collection “Felon,” about trying to explain to his young son that he has served time in prison.

Dec 03, 2021
Aimee Mann Live, with Atul Gawande
23:36

Aimee Mann, the celebrated Los Angeles singer and songwriter, recently released an album called “Queens of the Summer Hotel.” The album was inspired in part by Susanna Kaysen’s best-selling memoir “Girl, Interrupted,” about Kaysen’s time in a psychiatric hospital. Mann sat down with Atul Gawande at The New Yorker Festival to talk about the new album, the lessons of living through a pandemic, and how liberated she felt when she broke her ties with major record labels. “When you’re at a record label and you’re trying to ascertain whether something can be a hit or a single, you listen in a different way—and then everything sounds like garbage,” she said. Mann decided that she didn’t “want to keep baring my soul to people who hate everything I’m doing.” 

Nov 30, 2021
Dave Grohl’s Tales of Life and Music
26:46

At The New Yorker Festival, Dave Grohl talked with Kelefa Sanneh about Grohl’s new book, “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.” Grohl, who was the drummer for Nirvana and then the frontman of the Foo Fighters, recalls his earliest experiences of taking music seriously—harmonizing with his mom to Carly Simon on the car radio. Grohl also talks about what it was like to collaborate with Kurt Cobain, who was known for his capricious genius, and about stepping out from behind the drums to lead his own band. “After Kurt died, I was, like, I’m not playing music anymore—it’s painful,” he remembers. “And then I eventually realized that if music saved my life, my entire life, this is what’s going to save my life again.”

Nov 26, 2021
Mexican Abortion Activists Mobilize to Aid Texans
13:42

Mexico is a deeply Catholic nation where abortion was, for a long time, criminalized in many states; just a few years ago Coahuilla, near the U.S. border, imposed jail time on women who had the procedure. This year, Stephania Taladrid reported, Mexico’s ten-member Supreme Court voted unanimously to deciminalize abortion throughout the country—to the shock even of activists. But before they had finished celebrating they turned their attention north, to Texas, which has practically banned most abortions with the S.B. 8 law, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. Texans may find themselves crossing the border to obtain legal abortions. Taladrid spoke to activists who are sending medications that induce abortion—which are available over the counter in Mexico—across the border into Texas. But they may face risk in doing so. As the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen explains, a new Texas law criminalizes delivering those medications to pregnant women.

Nov 23, 2021
If Roe v. Wade Goes, What Next?
36:26

The Supreme Court, with a six-to-three majority of conservative justices, is hearing critical cases on abortion rights. If it approves restrictive state laws, large swaths of the country might quickly ban abortion. Jia Tolentino co-hosts a special episode on the future of abortion rights for Americans, which includes a discussion of the legal issues at stake and the doctrine of privacy that is now in jeopardy, and a visit to the Mississippi clinic at the center of one of the court cases.

Nov 19, 2021
The Essential Workers of the Climate Crisis
31:33

After storms and other climate disasters, legions of workers appear overnight to cover blown-out buildings with construction tarps, rip out ruined walls and floors, and start putting cities back together. They are largely migrants, predominantly undocumented, and lack basic protections for construction work. Their efforts are critical in an era of increasing climate-related disasters, but the workers are subject to hazards including accidents, wage theft, and deportation. “Right now, there is a base camp for the National Guard; FEMA officials in Louisiana are staying in hotels,” Saket Soni, the founder of the nonprofit group Resilience Force, tells Sarah Stillman. “But the workers who are doing the rebuilding with their hands are sleeping under their cars to protect themselves from rain.” Stillman travelled to Louisiana, to the parking lot of a Home Depot, to report on Soni’s effort to organize and win recognition for these laborers as a distinct workforce performing essential work. “These years ahead,” she notes, “are going to bring more brutal hurricanes, more awful floods, more terrifying wildfires, and heatwaves—more than any of us is really prepared to handle. … And what’s at stake is not just these workers’ fates but also our collective shared survival.”

Nov 16, 2021
Anna Deavere Smith Retells Rodney King’s Story in Theatre
17:31

“Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” premièred nearly thirty years ago, but it’s one of the most current and important plays on Broadway right now. Anna Deavere Smith pioneered a form now known as verbatim theatre: instead of creating characters and writing dialogue, she would interview dozens or hundreds of people about an event, and weave a story from those real characters and their words. “Twilight” is about the deadly violence and unrest that erupted after police officers were acquitted of the ferocious beating of Rodney King—one of the first episodes of police brutality caught on videotape and broadcast to the nation. Her form, she tells David Remnick, let her complicate the racial dynamics of Black and white people, to include the voices of Asian Americans and Latinx people involved in the uprising. Deavere talks about how the play reads now, after George Floyd’s murder and the uprising that followed, and about what still hasn’t changed in the cultural climate for Black theatre artists.

Nov 12, 2021
Rachel Held Evans and Her Legacy
33:06

Growing up, Rachel Held Evans was a fiercely enthusiastic evangelizer for her faith, the kind of kid who relished the chance to sit next to an atheist. But when she experienced doubt, that sense of certainty began to crumble. “We went to all these conferences about how to defend your faith, how to have an answer for what you believe,” her sister Amanda Held told Eliza Griswold. “That’s why it was particularly unsettling to have questions, because we were taught to have answers.” Held Evans began to blog and then wrote a string of best-sellers about her faith, beginning with “Evolving in Monkey Town,” in which she separated the Jesus she believed in from the conservative doctrine she was raised with. Her work spoke to the millions of Christians who have left evangelical churches since 2006. “There’s this common misperception that either you are a conservative evangelical Christian or . . . you become agnostic or atheist,” Griswold explains, but many Christians were turning away from politics and still retaining their faith. She calls Held Evans “the patron saint of this emerging movement.” After Held Evans died, at thirty-seven, after a sudden illness, her final, incomplete manuscript was finished by a friend, Jeff Chu. Griswold travelled to Held Evans’s home town of Dayton, Tennessee, to meet with her widower, Dan Evans, as well as Chu and others. “I think people resonate so much with her work [because] she was giving words that people couldn’t say themselves,” Evans says. “It’s not going to stop for them just because Rachel died. There’s going to be one less traveller. One less person to translate for them. But there’s more people born every day.”

Nov 09, 2021
Will the Office Survive the Pandemic?
16:00

Cal Newport, the author of “A World without Email” and other books, has been writing about how the shutdown has affected businesses and the culture of work. Remote operation, he says, has raised fundamental questions about the purpose of work, its role in our lives, and how productivity is measured. While most companies are asking employees to return to the office as the pandemic eases, Newport predicts that economic forces will eventually drive an exodus toward permanent remote work. Tech companies that launched as fully remote operations, he thinks, have a head start on the economic advantages of ditching the office for good.

Nov 05, 2021
Wole Soyinka on His New Satire of Corruption and Fundamentalism
19:45

Wole Soyinka is a giant of world literature. A Nobel laureate, he’s written more than two dozen plays, a vast amount of poetry, several memoirs, and countless essays and short stories—but, up until recently, only two novels. His third novel was published this past September, forty-eight years after the previous one. It's called “Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth.” The book is both a political satire and a murder mystery involving four friends, with subplots that include a secret society dealing in human body parts and more corruption than any one country can bear. 


Like his cousin the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Soyinka has made social commentary integral to his work. Soyinka’s journey into political activism began at a young age, and, in 1965, when he was twenty-one, he was arrested for armed robbery. But Soyinka tells Vinson Cunningham that political opposition didn’t come naturally to him. “I love my peace of mind and my tranquility,” he says, “[but] I cannot attain that if I have not attended to an issue or problem which I know is . . . manifesting itself in a dehumanizing way in others.” “Chronicles” explores not only how the governments are corrupt but the effect of corruption on societies and peoples. Soyinka also talks about why he waited so long to write another novel, and what the medium offers that theatre does not.

Nov 02, 2021
The Nobel Prize Winner Maria Ressa on the Turmoil at Facebook
30:37

The roughly ten thousand company documents that make up the Facebook Papers show a company in turmoil—and one that prioritizes its economic interests over known harms to public interest. Among other things, they catalogue the company’s persistent failure to control disinformation and hate speech. David Remnick spoke with Maria Ressa, an investigative journalist, in the Philippines, who runs the news organization Rappler. She has been the target of hate campaigns by supporters of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and in October Ressa (along with the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov) received the Nobel Peace Prize for working to protect freedom of expression. Ressa is also a co-founder of what’s called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of expert observers and critics who are not affiliated with Facebook’s own quasi-independent Oversight Board.  She doesn’t see easy tweaks to ameliorate the damage; the fundamental approach of steering content to users to maximize engagement, she feels, is inherently destructive. “We’ve adapted this hook, line, and sinker: ‘personalization is better,’ ” Ressa points out. “It does make the company more money, but is that the right thing? Personalization also tears apart a shared reality.” Plus, a disinformation researcher says that, to understand dangerous conspiracy stories like QAnon, you have to look at the online horror genre known as creepypasta.

Oct 29, 2021
Jane Goodall Talks with Andy Borowitz
28:55

Jane Goodall is as revered a figure as modern science has to offer, though she prefers to call herself a naturalist rather than a scientist. Goodall learned a great deal about being human by studying our close relatives among the primates. When she began working, some of her research habits, such as naming her subjects and describing their personalities, caused consternation among other primatologists, who insisted that intelligence and emotion were the exclusive province of human intellect; Goodall persevered, and shifted how we conceive of the relationship between humans and other creatures. She’s the author of more than thirty books for adults and children, including a new volume called “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times.” 

 

In her work as a conservationist and a United Nations “Messenger of Peace,” the eighty-seven-year-old Goodall used to travel as many as three hundred days per year. Since the pandemic began, she’s been at her home in England, in the house where she grew up. In a conversation for the New Yorker Festival, The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz (known primarily as a humorist) asked Goodall about the secrets to her success as both a researcher and an advocate. “I’m very passionate,” she told him. “Secondly, I’m probably obstinate and I’m pretty resilient. So knock me over and I’m going to bounce back up. Because I will not be defeated.”

Oct 26, 2021
How a Girls’ School Fled Afghanistan as the Taliban Took Over
19:02

In the summer, Shabana Basij-Rasikh came on the Radio Hour to speak with Sue Halpern about founding the School of Leadership Afghanistan—known as SOLAwhich was the country’s only boarding school for girls. She and those around her were watching the Taliban’s resurgence in the provinces anxiously, but with determination. “It’s likely that Taliban could disrupt life temporarily here in Kabul,” one woman told Basij-Rasikh, “but we’re not going to go back to that time. We’re going to fight them.” 

 

In fact, Basij-Rasikh had already been forming a plan to take her girls’ school abroad, and soon settled on Rwanda. When the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan led to a precipitous collapse of the government, she suddenly had to sneak nearly two hundred and fifty students, staff, faculty, and family members to the airport to flee as refugees. She seems traumatized by the terror of that experience. “That thought still haunts me—it suddenly takes over all my senses in a way, just this idea of ‘what if’? What if we lost a student?” She spoke with Halpern about the evacuation to Rwanda, and what she hopes for as the school resettles.

Oct 22, 2021
Jon Stewart: “That’s Not Cancel Culture”
21:51

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” defined an era. For more than sixteen years, Stewart and his many correspondents skewered American politics. At the 2021 New Yorker Festival, Stewart spoke with David Remnick about his new show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart”; the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House; and the controversy around cancel culture in comedy. “What do we do for a living?” Stewart asks, of comedians. “We criticize, we postulate, we opine, we make jokes, and now other people are having their say. And that’s not cancel culture, that’s relentlessness.”

Oct 19, 2021
Daniel Craig Takes Off the Tux
28:38

Daniel Craig made his career as an actor in the theatre and in British indie films. When he showed up in Hollywood, it was usually in smaller roles, often as a villain. So, in 2005, when Craig was cast as the original superspy, James Bond, he seemed as surprised as anyone. In “No Time to Die,” Craig gives his final performance as Bond—a role, he tells David Remnick, that sometimes grated on him. Craig hasn’t lost his love of theatre, and is set to play Macbeth on Broadway. “I try not to differentiate” between Shakespeare’s work and Ian Fleming’s, he tells David Remnick. “You’re trying to aim for some truth, to ground things in reality,” and “both require the same muscles.” Though he admits that “there’s a lot more chat” in a Shakespeare script. Plus, the beloved comic character actor Carol Kane discusses her Oscar-nominated turn in 1975’s “Hester Street,” which is being re-released.

Oct 15, 2021
Kara Walker Talks with Thelma Golden
17:12

Kara Walker is one of our most influential living artists. Walker won a MacArthur Fellowship (the “genius” grant) before she turned thirty, and became well known for her silhouettes, works constructed from cut black paper using a technique that refers to craft forms of the Victorian era. Walker has put modest materials to work to address very large concerns: the lived experience and historical legacy of American slavery. Though she often depicts the racial and sexual violence that went largely unspoken for centuries in the past, her work is aimed squarely at the modern world. “What I set out to do, in a way, worked too well,” she said, “which was to say, if I pretty everything up with hoop skirts and Southern belles then nobody will recognize that I’m talking about them. And then they didn’t! They said, ‘The past is so bad.’ But I’m not from the past. . . . I do live here now. And so do you.” Walker was interviewed at The New Yorker Festival by Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Oct 13, 2021
An Interview with Merrick Garland, and Susan Orlean on Animals
33:03

At The New Yorker Festival, the renowned investigative journalist Jane Mayer asked Attorney General Merrick Garland about the prosecution of January 6th insurrectionists, the threat of domestic terrorism, and what the Justice Department can do to protect abortion rights. Plus, the staff writer Susan Orlean talks with David Remnick about her obsession with animal stories, and her new book, “On Animals.”

Oct 08, 2021
Broadway’s Unusual Reopening, and Amanda Petrusich Picks Three
22:14

Broadway theatres are welcoming audiences to a new season, mounting original works and restaging shows that closed in March, 2020. In this unusual season, Broadway is featuring atypical works such as “Is this a Room,” directed by Tina Satter, which stages the F.B.I. interrogation of the whistle-blower Reality Winner using the official transcript verbatim for all of its dialogues. But the most notable thing about Broadway this season is the record-breaking eight plays by Black playwrights, including Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” and the reopening of Jeremy O. Harris’s “Slave Play.” Two theatre critics, Alexandra Schwartz and Vinson Cunningham, discuss whether this diversity is a sign of change on Broadway or a short-term response to the racial reckoning that began in 2020. Plus, the music critic Amanda Petrusich shares three tracks from her playlist for a new baby—featuring Aretha Franklin, Paul and Linda McCartney, and the Velvet Underground.

Oct 05, 2021
Jonathan Franzen Talks with David Remnick About “Crossroads”
27:50

Jonathan Franzen’s sixth novel, “Crossroads,” is set in 1971, and the title is firmly on the nose: the Hildebrand family is at a crossroads itself, just as the America of that moment seemed poised to come apart. In the course of his career, Franzen has evolved away from an early postmodernist sensibility that highlighted “bravura” writing, and “with this book I threw away all the po-mo hijinks and the grand plot elements,” he tells David Remnick. “It’s really only in the course of writing ‘Crossroads’ that I have said to myself, What I am is a novelist of character and psychology. . . . It’s not about formal experimentation and it’s certainly not about changing the world through my social commentary.” Franzen also discusses the complex ethics behind writing a character of another race, and takes issue with the belief of some in the academy (and much of the political right) that leftist sensibilities are stifling free expression; he declined to sign the “Harper’s Letter” last year. Despite political polarization, Franzen says, “It’s a much better time to be an American writer than I would have guessed twenty-five years ago.”

Oct 01, 2021
Should the Climate Movement Embrace Sabotage?
35:15

Andreas Malm, a climate activist and senior lecturer at Lund University, in Sweden, studies the relationship between climate change and capitalism. With the United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow rapidly approaching—it begins on October 31st—Malm tells David Remnick that he believes environmentalists should not place too much faith in talks or treaties of this kind. Instead, he insists that the climate movement rethinks its roots in nonviolence. His book is provocatively titled “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” though it is not exactly an instruction manual. Malm advocates for “intelligent sabotage” of fossil-fuel infrastructure to prevent more carbon from being emitted in the atmosphere. “I am in favor of destroying machines, property—not harming people. That’s a very important distinction,” he tells Remnick. Plus: Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker’s newest staff writer, introduces David Remnick to some notable works off the syllabus of a class she is teaching. It’s called “Writing the Unspeakable,” about the literature of trauma and atrocity.

Sep 28, 2021
Jelani Cobb on the Kerner Report, an Unheeded Warning about the Consequences of Racism
19:54

In 1967, in the wake of a violent uprising in Detroit, President Lyndon B. Johnson assembled the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate what had happened. This seemed futile: another panel to investigate yet another uprising. “A lot of people felt that way—‘We don’t need more studies, nothing’s going to come out of that commission,’ ” Fred Harris, a former senator from Oklahoma and the commission’s last surviving member, tells Jelani Cobb. But the conclusions were not typical at all. In the final analysis, known as the Kerner Report, the commission named white racism—no euphemisms—as the root cause of unrest in the United States, and said that the country was moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.” The report called for sweeping changes and investments in jobs, housing, policing, and more; the recommendations went so far beyond Johnson’s anti-poverty programs of the nineteen-sixties that the President shelved the report and refused to meet with his own commission. The Kerner Report, Cobb says, was “an unheeded warning,” as America still struggles today to acknowledge the reality of systemic racism. 

Jelani Cobb co-edited and wrote the introduction to “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” which was published this year.

Sep 24, 2021
Joaquin Castro: “Americans Don’t Know Who Latinos Are”
22:50

On Tuesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a preliminary report on the long-standing underrepresentation of Latinos in the media. While most people consider Hollywood a relatively liberal industry, “the system as a whole is actually quite regressive and . . . exclusionary,” Joaquin Castro, the representative of a Texas district that includes much of San Antonio, says. “I’m convinced that Americans don’t know who Latinos are,” Castro tells Stephania Taladrid. Unlike Black Americans, who are linked in the white imagination to the civil-rights era and other historical turning points, Castro says, non-Latinos “don’t associate us with any particular time period in American history. They don’t know who among us has contributed to the nation’s prosperity or success. And they have no sense where to place us within American society.” What Castro calls a “void” in America’s narrative gets filled by pernicious stereotypes of Latinos as criminals and “illegals.” “There has been now, for several years at least, this dangerous nexus between representation, portrayal, and the abuse of Latino stereotypes . . . by politicians who abuse them for their own political gain. And, in that dangerous mix, in its worst form, you get what happened in El Paso in August of 2019, where a madman drove ten hours and killed twenty-three people because he considered them Hispanic invaders.” Castro suggests that states and local governments should do more to hold the media accountable, for example, by tying tax breaks for entertainment production to improvements on diversity.

Sep 21, 2021
Wes Anderson and Jeffrey Wright on “The French Dispatch”
29:06

“I wanted to do a French movie, and I had this idea of wanting to do a New Yorker movie,” Wes Anderson explains. “Somehow, I also wanted to do one of those omnibus-type things where it was a collection of short stories.” The result is the new film “The French Dispatch.” Anderson describes his interest in The New Yorker as “almost fetishistic.” Each of the movie’s four story lines was inspired by a work from the magazine or by one of its writers, though Anderson has played freely with biography. Jeffrey Wright, for example, plays Roebuck Wright, an amalgam of James Baldwin, a Black American expatriate in provincial France, and A. J. Liebling, a beloved writer on food and much else from The New Yorker’s early years. “Even in exile,” the actor says, his character “realizes that he’s only at home within himself, that there is no home for him. And maybe there is no home for anyone, really, other than within one’s own body and one’s own soul.” Anderson and Wright join David Remnick to discuss “The French Dispatch” and the classic New Yorker essays that inspired it.

Sep 17, 2021
Bonus: “The French Dispatch” Reads The New Yorker
28:26

Wes Anderson’s new film, “The French Dispatch,” is about a magazine, and it was inspired by Anderson’s long-standing love of The New Yorker. In this special episode, introduced by the articles editor Susan Morrison, cast members read excerpts from classic works associated with the magazine. Bill Murray reads a letter from the editor Harold Ross to an angry writer, Steve Park reads James Thurber, and Elisabeth Moss reads E. B. White. Owen Wilson reads Joseph Mitchell’s piece on rats; Frances McDormand reads Mavis Gallant’s record of the 1968 student uprising in Paris; Tilda Swinton reads a Calvin Tomkins art-world profile; and Jeffrey Wright reads James Baldwin’s “Equal in Paris,” a remarkable indictment of French institutions.

Sep 17, 2021
The Insidious Procedural Traps of the Texas Abortion Law
29:23

The new Texas law Senate Bill 8 effectively outlaws abortion in Texas, violating constitutional protections on reproductive rights. Yet the Supreme Court is in no rush to review it. The law professor and staff writer Jeannie Suk Gersen speaks with Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. They examine the novel ways in which the law insulates itself from judicial review. “It seems like the Texas law is an onion, with layers upon layers of unconstitutionality,” Suk Gersen notes. “It’s basically saying to the courts, ‘We’ll do your job for you. You are cut out of this.’ ” 

 

Plus, Jia Tolentino talks with the pop musician Caroline Polachek, as the singer-songwriter gets ready to play her first live concert since March of 2020, for the biggest crowd of her career.

Sep 14, 2021
Remembering September 11th, and the Future of the Taliban
20:26

Twenty years after the events of September 11th, the writer Edwidge Danticat reads from her essay “Flight,” about the way that tragedies are memorialized by those who survive them. And the New Yorker contributor Anand Gopal reports from Afghanistan, where, he says, the younger rank and file of the Taliban are hardly aware of the way that the 9/11 attacks have shaped the last two decades.

Sep 10, 2021
The Child Tax Credit: One Small Step Toward Universal Basic Income?
29:31

David Remnick talks with Senator Michael Bennet, of Colorado, who campaigned for the Presidency in 2020 advocating for the child tax credit, which is now a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda. Bennet describes why direct cash payments make such a big difference. Our economics correspondent Sheelah Kolhatkar describes the policy as a scale model of universal basic income. She moderates a conversation between two academics on different sides of the issue: Michael Strain, a senior fellow and the director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Amy Castro, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Plus, Radio Hour listeners go toe to toe in a round of The New Yorker’s Name Drop, a new quiz.

Sep 07, 2021
Riz Ahmed on “Mogul Mowgli”
19:40

As a rapper, Riz Ahmed has released critically acclaimed albums, and he was featured on the chart-topping “Hamilton Mixtape.” At the same time, he was becoming a leading man in the movies, with roles including a small part in the Star Wars picture “Rogue One” and an extraordinary, Oscar-nominated performance in “Sound of Metal.” Like his previous film, “Mogul Mowgli” is about a musical artist facing a health crisis that could end his career. Ahmed stars as the British-Pakistani rapper Zaheer—stage name Zed—and he co-wrote the film with Bassam Tariq. “It was very much a kind of inward journey,” Ahmed tells David Remnick. “It was very much about holding up a mirror and hoping that in the honesty and the vulnerability of that exercise, people would just connect emotionally—even if they couldn’t necessarily connect to the specificity of the experience. But for those who could connect to that specificity, you would be, like, ‘Jesus Christ, I never thought I’d see that onscreen!’ ”

Sep 03, 2021
The Joy of Beach Reads
31:13

Our guest host, Vinson Cunningham, looks at the joys of the beach read, hitting Brighton Beach on a hot, muggy day to peer over readers’ shoulders. He relates his own fortuitous encounter with Lawrence Otis Graham’s “Our Kind of People,” after finding the book in a rented house on Martha’s Vineyard. Plus, Rachel Syme feels that “books have a season that they tell you to read them in,” and “summer is the season of the classic Hollywood memoir”; she shares three favorites with David Remnick.

Aug 27, 2021
Kim Stanley Robinson on “Utopian” Science Fiction
18:50

One of the premier writers of thinky sci-fi, Kim Stanley Robinson opened his book “The Ministry for the Future” with an all too plausible scenario: a lethal heat wave descends on India, with vast, horrifying consequences. It’s a sobering read, especially after July, 2021, was declared the hottest month on record. And yet Robinson tells Bill McKibben that his work is not dystopian; his central concern is how the globe could respond to such a disaster and begin to halt the momentum of global warming. “That whole dystopian postapocalyptic strain—it doesn’t serve as a warning, it doesn’t make you change your behavior,” Robinson notes. “I reject all that. I write as a utopian science-fiction writer.” But, “at the moment we’re at right now in world history,” he admits, “I have to set a pretty low bar for ‘utopia.’ If we dodge a mass-extinction event in this century, that’s utopian writing. That’s the best we can expect from where we are right now. Having put that story on the table as being possible, it suggests that we ought to be trying for it.”

Aug 27, 2021
Home Cooking with Jacques Pepin and Klancy Miller
32:34

For generations of cooks, Jacques Pépin has been the master. Early in his career he cooked for eminences like Charles DeGaulle, and was offered a job at the White House. But after a serious car accident ended his time in restaurants, Pépin remade a new career as a teacher, cookbook author, chef, and broadcaster. On television—at first alongside his friend Julia Child—he brought the gospel of French cooking into so many American homes, at a time when there was no other fine cuisine. At eighty-five, he is still active on Facebook Live, with a notably humble variety of use-what-you-got cooking that’s well suited to the pandemic era. Pépin consented to a one-on-one lesson with David Remnick, a cooking novice, and together they tackled the subtle art of making a crêpe. Plus, Klancy Miller, the author of “Cooking Solo,” talks with the food correspondent Helen Rosner about her underlying philosophy: you should treat yourself as well as you would treat anyone else.

Aug 24, 2021
Dexter Filkins on the Fall of Afghanistan
17:33

Dexter Filkins covered the American invasion of Afghanistan when he was a reporter for the New York Times, and has continued to report on conflicts in the region for The New Yorker. Filkins’s best-seller from 2008 carried the resonant title “The Forever War.” Thirteen years after the book’s publication, the forever war is over, but its end has been the chaotic worst-case scenario that many feared. Filkins talks with David Remnick about whether it had to go this way, and whether twenty years of war changed America more than it did Afghanistan. 

Aug 20, 2021
Liesl Tommy, Director of “Respect”
14:34

Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul, the greatest voice of her generation, an eighteen-time Grammy Award winner whose career spanned five decades. She was also a famously private person, which makes the project of directing a film about her life challenging. The job of telling Aretha’s story went to a South African-born director named Liesl Tommy, known for her work in theatre and nominated for a Tony, in 2016. Tommy had also directed episodes of TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Jessica Jones,” but the movie about Franklin—called, almost inevitably, “Respect”—is her first feature film. Tommy’s long-standing passion for the singer, she says, made the job relatively easy, even though she first fell in love with Franklin’s voice as a child living on a different continent.  “I don’t think I ever thought of her as American,” she told Vinson Cunningham. “I thought of her as a woman that I wanted to grow up to be.” As a small child, she recalls, “Even if I don’t understand the feelings specifically, I understand how the way she sang them made me feel. And that was, excited to be alive.”

Aug 13, 2021
Amanda Petrusich Talks with the Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman
23:50

Amanda Petrusich describes herself as a “die-hard fan” of folk music, but not when it feels precious or sentimental. That’s why she loves the Weather Station, whose songs, she thinks, “could take a punch to the face.” A solo project of the songwriter and performer Tamara Lindeman, the Weather Station’s new album, “Ignorance,” focusses on the theme of climate grief: Lindeman was responding to a devastating report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the consequences of elevated carbon levels for human societies. If that sounds heady, Lindeman tells Petrusich that it may be her heritage. “There’s this thread in Canadian music of philosophical songwriting, and that’s how I like my lyrics to be. I like them to be about ideas as well as stories. . . . Most people want songs that just tell a story; they don’t want the complicated ideas. But I do.”

 

The Weather Station performs “Robber” and “Tried to Tell You,” with Evan Cartwright on percussion and Karen Ng on saxophone. 

 

This segment originally aired February 5, 2021.

Aug 10, 2021
Atul Gawande on the COVID-19 Resurgence
25:14

For a few brief moments this summer, in places where the vaccination rate was high, we could imagine life after COVID-19: restaurants and theatres were filling up, gatherings of all kinds were taking place, and many businesses were planning to return to their offices after Labor Day. Then the story changed, as the highly contagious Delta variant began sweeping the nation. Atul Gawande, a professor of medicine and an internationally recognized expert on public health, tells David Remnick that the Delta surge has also caused a vaccination surge, which is promising. They discuss the idea of booster shots and the possibility of a future variant that would resist the vaccine and cause more severe breakthrough infections. The Lambda variant, Gawande says, has already reached the U.S., but little is known yet about how it responds to the vaccines in use here. Plus, forget the big white tent and the plate of rubber chicken: the real New York style is a City Hall wedding, complete with metal detectors. Vinson Cunningham tells us what it’s all about.

 

(Gawande has been nominated by President Biden to lead global health development, including COVID-19 efforts, for the United States Agency for International Development. The appointment awaits confirmation in the Senate.)

Aug 06, 2021
Jack Antonoff on Growing up Jersey
18:05

Jack Antonoff has had a busy pandemic. Sought out by Taylor Swift as a producer, he ultimately made two records for her—one of which, “Folklore,” won the Grammy for Album of the Year. He also worked on albums for Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Clairo that are out or forthcoming this year. And Antonoff just released his own new record, “Take The Sadness out of Saturday Night,” his third album with the band Bleachers. It’s music for driving fast down the highway—heavy on the horns, the power chords, and the emotions. But, like his fellow New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen, Antonoff tells intensely personal stories in his anthems. He talks with David Remnick about how growing up in the suburbs inspired him, and about a death in his family that shaped his songwriting.

Aug 03, 2021
John Kerry on the Battle Against Climate Change
32:21

With the world overheating, glaciers melting, and landscapes in flames, it’s difficult to think of a harder or more important job than John Kerry’s. The former senator and Secretary of State is now the special Presidential envoy for climate, a Cabinet-level post created by President Biden. Kerry talks with David Remnick about reasserting the United States’ fitness to lead on global climate action in the wake of Trump Administration policies, and about how to get allies and adversaries to engage in the battle together. He is heading to Glasgow for talks that aim to hold the warming level to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “Imagine what happens at 1.5, if you already see what’s happening at 1.2,” Kerry exclaims. “Is that what we want? You would think not!” Plus, an evangelical historian who is the wife of a pastor breaks from her church’s doctrine, arguing that Biblical readings of female submission are mistakes. She has felt the personal consequences of taking this stance.

Jul 30, 2021
An Iranian Plot Grew in Brooklyn, and the Revelations about Pegasus
26:28

The indictment reads like a not-so-great spy novel: the operatives would kidnap the dissident from her home in Brooklyn, deliver her to the waterfront to meet a speedboat, bring her by sea to Venezuela, and then move her on to Tehran—where she would, presumably, face a show trial, and perhaps execution. But this was no potboiler. The Iranian nationals charged in the indictment were allegedly researching an audacious plot to capture a naturalized American citizen, on U.S. soil. The target of the scheme was Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who has been critical of the Iranian theocracy and particularly vocal in speaking out against the compulsory wearing of hijab; she has a large following on social media and a show on Voice of America. Her brother has been jailed in Iran, and her sister was forced to renounce her on television. The F.B.I. took the threat to Alinejad seriously enough to sequester her and her husband, Kambiz Foroohar,  in a series of safe houses, where they stayed for months. Alinejad and Foroohar spoke about their ordeal with David Remnick, and explained why the regime regards her as such a threat. “For Iran, hijab is like the Berlin Wall was to the Soviet system,” Foroohar points out. “The narrative of the Islamic Republic was that women are choosing to wear hijab, and Masih is challenging that narrative.” Plus, the revelations about Pegasus. Marketed as a tool against terrorism, the spyware was also deployed by governments against journalists and activists. Isaac Chotiner interviews one of the targets, the Indian journalist and scholar Siddharth Varadarajan.

Jul 27, 2021
Eric Adams Talks with David Remnick
23:53

The New York City mayoral primary, which culminated in a vote held in June, was full of surprises, including the introduction of ranked-choice voting to a confused electorate, and the presence of Andrew Yang, a newcomer to municipal politics who quickly attained front-runner status. But the winning Democrat was no surprise. Eric Adams is the borough president of Brooklyn and a former state senator, making him an establishment favorite. He was also, for more than two decades, a police officer. With policing at the center of public attention since last year’s uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, Adams occupies a unique position in the debate. He was a firebrand in the N.Y.P.D. and an advocate for Black officers; and he was, as a teen-age boy, a victim of police abuse himself. But Adams is also a strong defender of the police department. He has spoken about the correct way to implement stop-and-frisk policies, which have been previously carried out in ways that were ruled unconstitutional. He rebuked candidates to his left who talked about defunding the force. And he made the national spike in violent crime part of his candidacy, when others focussed their platforms elsewhere.  

 

The nation’s cities face a budgetary crisis, the COVID crisis, a crisis of confidence in policing, and more. Adams doesn’t seem fazed. “We need to be very honest that our city is dysfunctional. And it always has been for a large number of New Yorkers,” he told David Remnick. “I could take you throughout the city where the conditions have remained the same through mayor after mayor. What I must do is stop the dysfunctionality of a city that has normalized being dysfunctional.” Remnick spoke with Adams on July 21, 2021.

Jul 23, 2021
Helen Rosner’s Summer Drinks, Plus an Anxious Future in Afghanistan
34:45

Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the co-founder of Afghanistan’s only all-girls boarding school, and she is anxiously waiting to see if the Taliban—which brutally opposes the education of girls and women—will make inroads in Kabul. “I was speaking with a young woman,” Basij-Rasikh told the staff writer Sue Halpern, “and she said, ‘Yes, sure, the Taliban will kill more of us. The Taliban will kill a lot more of us. But they will never, ever rule over us.’ ” Plus, the food-and-drink writer Helen Rosner prepares three summer cocktails to toast a reopening world: a Cynar spritz; a Michelada made with nonalcoholic Upside Dawn Golden Ale; and a classic piña colada, complete with umbrella.

Jul 20, 2021
The Golden Arches in Black America
15:12

Marcia Chatelain, a historian at Georgetown, recently won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.” Chatelain looks at how McDonald’s leveraged the social upheaval of the nineteen-sixties to gain a permanent foothold in Black communities across the country. McDonald’s strategically positioned franchise ownership as an economic goal for Black entrepreneurs. Black franchisees, she notes, have navigated the economic promise and the pitfalls of that corporate relationship, while the wages for fast-food workers, who are disproportionately Black and Latino, have remained notoriously low.

Jul 16, 2021
Gillian Flynn, Akhil Sharma, and Alison Bechdel on Their Most Memorable Jobs
16:46

The U.S. economy seems to be showing real signs of life, and lots of people are finally returning to the labor force—eight hundred and fifty thousand in the month of June alone. At the same time, job resignations are at a record high, and many workers are changing careers. With work life at top of mind, we asked three writers to tell us about the most memorable jobs they’ve had in the past. Gillian Flynn, the author of novels including “Sharp Objects” and “Gone Girl,” remembers having to wear a frozen-yogurt costume as a teen-ager. Akhil Sharma talks about lying his way into a lucrative gig as a banker, spinning stories that played into ethnic stereotypes, before becoming the author of books such as “Family Life” and “An Obedient Father.” Plus, the cartoonist Alison Bechdel shares how she rewarded herself after her shortest job ever. 

 

 

This story originally aired on August 25, 2017.

Jul 13, 2021
Bon Iver Live at the New Yorker Festival
24:56

In the winter of 2007, a songwriter by the name of Justin Vernon returned to the Wisconsin woods, not far from where he grew up. Just a few months later, he emerged with “For Emma, Forever Ago”—his first album produced under the name Bon Iver. Since then, Vernon and various bandmates have released three more records, won two Grammys, and collaborated with Kanye West, becoming one of the most celebrated bands in indie music. The music critic Amanda Petrusich spoke with Vernon at The New Yorker Festival, alongside his bandmates Brad Cook and Chris Messina. They discuss using made-up words as lyrics; Vernon’s deep, deep love of “Northern Exposure”; and how a group like Bon Iver engages with current events in today’s toxic political climate. 

 

Bon Iver performed “U (Man Like),” “Marion,” and “RABi”; Vernon was accompanied by Sean Carey, Jenn Wasner, and Mike Lewis.  

 

This story originally aired November 29, 2019

Jul 09, 2021
Janet Mock Finds Her Voice
24:46

Janet Mock first heard the word “māhū,” a Native Hawaiian word for people who exist outside the male-female binary, when she was twelve. She had just moved back to Oahu, where she was born, from Texas, and, by that point, Mock knew that the gender she presented as didn’t feel right. “I don’t like to say the word ‘trapped,’ ” Mock tells The New Yorker’s Hilton Als. “But I was feeling very, very tightly contained in my body.” 

 

Eventually, Mock left Hawaii for New York, where she worked as an editor for People magazine. “[Everyone was] bigger and louder and smarter and bolder than me,” she tells Als. “So, in that sense, I could kind of blend in.” After working at People for five years, she came out publicly as trans; since then, she has emerged as a leading voice on trans issues. She’s written two books, produced a documentary, and signed a deal with Netflix. In 2018, she became the first trans woman of color to be hired as a writer on a TV series—Ryan Murphy’s FX series “Pose,” which just concluded its final season.

 

This story originally aired January 4, 2019

Jul 06, 2021
Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino Investigate Britney Spears’s Conservatorship
31:49

Britney Spears has been one of the world’s most prominent pop stars since her début, in the late nineteen-nineties. But, since 2008, she’s been under a court-ordered conservatorship—a form of legal guardianship—which has restricted nearly all aspects of her life. Details about the arrangement have been kept out of public view, all while Spears has continued to turn out records and perform lucrative shows, earning millions of dollars for those around her. But the pop star is now directly confronting the people and structures that have ruled her life for the past decade. In recent court testimony, Spears openly detailed her experience under the conservatorship for the first time. She demanded her liberty and expressed her anger, profound sadness, and frustration. She even alleged that her conservatorship, which is led by her father, prevented her from getting an IUD removed from her body, which the family denies. The staff writers Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino have investigated how Spears wound up in this situation, in the article “Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Nightmare.” They speak with David Remnick about Spears’s life under relentless public scrutiny, her cultural significance, and the thorny legal problems posed by conservatorships. “Conservatorships essentially deem someone incapacitated,” Tolentino says. “And from that point, because they do remove your rights by necessity, they sort of foreclose the possibility of proving or gaining capacity to anyone under it.”

Jul 03, 2021
A Family Divided Over the COVID-19 Vaccine
20:07

Across the country, COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available for teen-agers. But most states still require parental consent for minors to receive the shot. David Remnick spoke with a teen-ager who asked that we call him Aaron Williams. He is desperate to be vaccinated, but his parents are skeptical. “We waited three months, and, during the span of that time, they started going through all sorts of conspiracy rabbit holes,” reading fabrications about mRNA vaccines’ changing the recipient’s genetic code, he said. “They pushed it back to six months, to a year, to two years, until they just said, ‘You’re never getting the vaccine.’ ” Misinformation continues to pose a public-health risk around the world, but for this family the stakes are also personal. “I’m missing out on friends’ gatherings and other things at school,” Williams told Remnick. “But they’re saying that I’m hurting them because I’m causing stress.” Plus, Naomi Fry on a turning point for reality TV. As “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” comes to a close after almost a decade and a half, Fry talks with David Remnick about “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” “90 Day Fiancé,” and other shows that look at real social issues in unique, dramatic ways. 

Jun 25, 2021
The Newspaperman Who Championed Black Tulsa
36:33

In the years leading up to the horrific Tulsa massacre of 1921, the Greenwood district was a thriving Black metropolis, a city within a city. Buoyed by money from Oklahoma’s oil boom, it was home to the original Cotton Club and to one of the first Black-owned daily newspapers in the United States, the Tulsa Star. The Star’s founder and editor was A. J. Smitherman, a lawyer and the Alabama-born son of a coal miner. He addressed his eloquence and his ire at local nuisances like prostitution and gambling halls, as well as the gravest injustices of American life. The Radio Hour’s KalaLea is the host of “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning.” She looks in this story at how Smitherman documented Greenwood at its height, and how he tried to prevent its destruction. 

“Blind Spot: Tulsa Burning” is a six-part podcast co-produced by the History Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with KOSU and Focus Black Oklahoma. The team includes Caroline Lester, Alana Casanova-Burgess, Joe Plourde, Emily Mann, Jenny Lawton, Emily Botein, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Bracken Klar, Rachel Hubbard, Anakwa Dwamena, Jami Floyd, and Cheryl Devall. The music is by Hannis Brown, Am’re Ford, Isaac Jones, and Chad Taylor. The executive producers at the History Channel are Eli Lehrer and Jessie Katz. Raven Majia Williams is a consulting producer. Special thanks to Herb Boyd, Kelly Gillespie, Shelley Miller, Jodi-Ann Malarbe, Jennifer Lazo, Andrew Golis, Celia Muller, and Andy Lanset. Maurice Jones was the voice of A. J. Smitherman. Additional voices: Terrance McKnight, Dar es Salaam Riser, Javana Mundy, John Biewen, Jack Fowler, Tangina Stone, Emani Johnston, Danny Wolohan, and Jay Allison.

Jun 22, 2021
Naftali Bennett and the New Hard Line in Israeli Politics
13:38

In 2013, David Remnick published a profile of Naftali Bennett.  He wrote that Bennett was something new in Israeli politics, a man who would “build a sturdy electoral bridge between the religious and the secular, the hilltop outposts of the West Bank and the start-up suburbs.” Though religiously observant, Bennett was cosmopolitan: fluent on Facebook, and as quick to quote Seinfeld as he was the Talmud. He had been a leader of the settler movement, and, although he lived in a modern house in a well-to-do Tel Aviv suburb, there was no ambiguity about Bennett’s hard-line stance on the Palestinian question. He disdained the peace process of an earlier time. “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state,” he told Remnick. “No more illusions.”


Bennett has now unseated his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister of Israeli. Remnick spoke with two writers in the region about this political upheaval. Raja Shehadeh, who is based in Ramallah, says that the changing of the guard will mean little on the West Bank, where the recent bloody conflict was a propaganda victory for Hamas. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, says that, while the peace movement seems all but dead, the changing of a political epoch, and the presence of the first Arab-Israeli party ever represented in the Knesset, has to be seen as an opportunity for change.

Jun 18, 2021
A Rift over Racism Divides the Southern Baptist Convention, Plus, the Fallout from Gamestop
33:43

The largest Protestant denomination in America is in crisis over the group’s reluctance to acknowledge systemic racism; our reporter talks with the Reverend Dwight McKissic, who considered himself a loyalist but may have reached a breaking point. Plus, our producer looks at the GameStop squeeze of last winter and tries to figure out the motives of the small investors on r/WallStreetBets. Are they out for vengeance on the Man? Are they after lulz? Or are they just trying to make a buck?

Jun 14, 2021
Jon M. Chu on “In the Heights”
16:08

It’s easy to see why the director Jon M. Chu was adamant that the release of “In the Heights” wait until this summer, when more people could see it in theatres: it’s big, it’s colorful, the dance sequences are complex—it’s a spectacle in the best sense of the term. “In the Heights,” based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit stage musical, is a love letter to the largely Latino community in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan. The characters are dreaming big and wrestling with what happens when those dreams start to pull them away from the neighborhood. For Chu, who directed the enormous hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” directing the film was a risk—it’s said that Miranda teased him by writing “Don’t fuck this up” on his copy of the script. As an Asian-American from California, Chu “was already one step removed from this neighborhood,” he tells David Remnick. “How do you make sure you don’t miss a detail? The director is probably the only person on set who can stop everything and say, ‘Let’s discuss this.’ . . . That’s what made me nervous, making sure I was always present to hear those things.”

Jun 11, 2021
Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax on Beethoven’s Politics of the Cello
21:17

Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax have both been playing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major for over forty years. But it took a global pandemic for the two of them to fully understand it. “This is such open, hopeful music,” Ax said. But when Beethoven dedicated the original piece to a friend, he signed the manuscript, “amid tears and sorrow.” Beethoven, Ma and Ax reflected, finished the sonata during a tumultuous period in which Napoleon was at war with Austria and the composer was losing his hearing. “I thought this was a good piece for this moment,” Ma told The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross. “Because people are suffering, and we do think that music can give comfort.” The musicians spoke to Ross and performed from an empty concert hall as part of the New Yorker Festival. 

 

The segment originally aired November 13, 2020.

Jun 08, 2021
A Vaccinated Day at the Ballpark, and Sarah Schulman on ACT-UP
28:47

The staff writer Patricia Marx checks out the new vaccinated sections at New York’s Major League Baseball parks. The author and activist Sarah Schulman talks with David Remnick about her new book on the early years of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. The group’s radical tactics forced changes in government policy and transformed how America saw gay people and AIDS patients.

Jun 04, 2021
Looking Back at the Year of Protest Since the Death of George Floyd
34:34

We look back on the year since the murder of George Floyd galvanized the nation. David Remnick talks with Vanita Gupta, the No. 3 official in the Justice Department, who is charged with delivering on President Biden’s bold promises to address racial injustice. A Minneapolis activist explains why it is so hard to abolish the police. Plus, Hilton Als on why America finally rose up against long-standing abuses of Black people.

Jun 01, 2021
Spike Lee on the Knicks’ Resurgence

Spike Lee is one of the most passionate and committed fans of the New York Knicks—not to mention one of the most celebrated filmmakers of our time. Underdogs for many years, the Knicks are enjoying a renaissance, and Lee is in his glory. David Remnick and Vinson Cunningham called Lee to talk about a life of fandom, the politics of activism in the N.B.A. and the N.F.L., and Lee’s multipart documentary about life in New York since September 11th, which will be released to mark the twentieth anniversary of the attacks.

May 28, 2021
Can We Finally End School Segregation?
49:01

By many accounts, American schools are as segregated today as they were in the nineteen-sixties, in the years after Brown v. Board of Education. WNYC’s podcast “The United States of Anxiety” chronicled the efforts of one small school district, Sausalito Marin City Schools, in California, to desegregate. Fifty years after parents and educators there first attempted integration, the state’s attorney general found that the district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained a segregated system, violating the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. The district’s older public school, which served mostly Black and Latino students, suffered neglect; meanwhile, a new charter school, though racially diverse, enrolled virtually all the white children in the district. The reporter Marianne McCune explored how one community overcame decades of distrust to finally integrate.

May 21, 2021
“Fire in Little Africa,” A Rap Album about a Historical Tragedy
30:09

The Tulsa massacre of 1921 was a coördinated assault on and destruction of the thriving Black community known as Greenwood, Black Wall Street, or Little Africa. Even today, the death toll remains unknown. In fact, for generations, most people—including many Tulsans—did not know about the massacre at all. This year marks its hundredth anniversary, and it is being commemorated with documentaries, official events in Tulsa, and one very unusual rap album: “Fire in Little Africa,” which comes out in May on Motown Records. It features about forty rappers, and thirty other singers, musicians, and producers who tell the story of Greenwood at its height—and of their dreams of a revitalized Black Tulsa. The freelance producer Taylor Hosking explains the creation of the album to The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham.

May 18, 2021
The Post-Pandemic Dress Code, Plus Hilton Als on Alice Neel
30:24

When a very long year of doing business from home—in sweatshirts and pajamas and slippers—is over, how much effort will people be willing to expend on dressing for the office? Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor and the author of “Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History,” tackles that question along with the New Yorker editor Henry Finder. Clothing, he says, has mostly been used to maintain social hierarchies, but it has also occasionally helped to overthrow them. Dressing up, he says, can be a form of transgression: historically, in Black communities, refined dress has been used to demand dignity and resist white supremacy. Plus, the celebrated critic Als on the work of Alice Neel, who painted her neighbors, friends, and colleagues in a multicultural New York.

May 11, 2021
Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee on the State of the Pandemic
19:47

After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. Atul Gawande tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who reported on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.

May 07, 2021
Thomas McGuane Reads “Balloons”
17:03

Thomas McGuane reads his story from the May 10, 2021, issue of the magazine. McGuane has published more than a dozen books of fiction, including the story collections “Gallatin Canyon,” “Crow Fair,” and “Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories,” which came out in 2018.

May 04, 2021
Three Women Who Changed the World
19:38

“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden, tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”

May 04, 2021
Are U.F.O.s a National Security Threat?
31:14

In June, the director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense are expected to deliver a report about what the government knows on the subject of “unidentified aerial phenomena,” more commonly known as U.F.O.s. The issue is nonpartisan: while he was the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat, secured funding for a secret Pentagon project to investigate the subject; John Podesta, a chief of staff in the Clinton White House, argued for government transparency on the topic; most recently, the Republican senator Marco Rubio introduced language in last year’s Intelligence Authorization Act calling for the forthcoming report.

This is a shocking turn of events. For generations, U.F.O.s were in the purview of late-night call-in radio shows and supermarket tabloids, not the Department of Defense. Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports on how this change came about. The journalist Leslie Kean, who published a bombshell story in the New York Times, explains how the C.I.A. got involved in casting doubt on U.F.O. sightings. Reid tells Lewis-Kraus that the Pentagon refused to authorize his inspection of contractor facilities which, it was rumored, held U.F.O. crash debris. And a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Christopher Mellon, says that the phenomena observed in many sightings cannot be explained as advanced technology built by one of our rivals. “I really doubt that the Russians or Chinese could be that far ahead of us,” he says. “It looks like centuries ahead.” So, whereas the word “aliens” still seems like taboo in serious conversation, he adds, “it's hard to come up with a hypothesis to explain that without considering the possibility that some other civilization is involved.”

Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s “How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously” appears in the May 10th issue of The New Yorker.

This segment features scoring by Pablo Vergara. Additional archival clips were provided courtesy of James Fox.

Apr 30, 2021
A Surge at the Border, and the Children of Morelia
37:08

Nearly a century ago, during the Spanish Civil War, a group of parents put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. Few of the refugees ever saw their parents again. The youngest of the children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, who was just three. On this week’s show, her granddaughter, the writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, traces the impact of her grandmother’s trauma down through the generations. Plus, the immigration reporter Jonathan Blitzer ties the story to today’s refugee crisis at the U.S. southern border, where a surge in arrivals has put the Biden Administration on its heels. 

Apr 27, 2021
Jelani Cobb on Derek Chauvin’s Conviction and the Future of Police Reform
12:42

The murder of George Floyd galvanized the public and led to the largest protests in American history. Even Donald Trump said of the videos of Floyd’s killing, “It doesn't get any more obvious or it doesn't get any worse than that,” presumably referring to the use of force by police. America waited anxiously for the outcome of the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution’s case was notable for the unusually candid and definitive statements against Chauvin’s actions that were made by senior figures in the Minneapolis Police Department. The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb covered the trial and says that this testimony sends a message to law enforcement. “There are now circumstances where public scrutiny and public outrage and egregious offenses that come to light can actually generate enough outrage that you actually will not be defended by your fellow-officers,” he tells David Remnick. “It may seem like a low bar. But, given what we’ve seen previously, that’s a pretty astounding development.” 

Apr 23, 2021
What Is Happening in the Internment Camps in Xinjiang
49:27

In a special episode on the crisis in Xinjiang region of China, the staff writer Raffi Khatchadourian investigates Xi Jinping’s government’s severe repression of Muslim minorities, principally Uyghurs and Kazhaks. Accounts from a camp survivor and a woman who fled detainment show how, even outside the camps, life in the province of Xinjiang became a prison. The crisis meets the United Nations’ definition of genocide, and the U.S. State Department has also made that determination. With the 2022 Winter Olympics coming up in Beijing, what can the world do about Xinjiang?

Apr 16, 2021
Rickie Lee Jones’s Life on the Road
22:36

Rickie Lee Jones emerged into the pop world fully formed; her début album was nominated for five Grammys, in 1980, and she won for Best New Artist. One of the songs on that record was “The Last Chance Texaco,” and Jones has made that the title of her new memoir. The song evokes a service station on a long stretch of highway, and Jones’s book reflects on her almost obsessive need to travel and uproot herself at almost any cost. “All I wanted to do was leave” from a very young age, she says.“When I talk about it from here, it seems like it was so horribly dangerous.” She adds, “Suddenly I’ll [say], ‘I think I’ll go to Big Sur,’ and I’m in a car, going. But the chaos and trouble that brings to a life!” The producer Scott Carrier, who hosts the podcast “Home of the Brave,” interviewed Jones near her home in New Orleans. 

Apr 13, 2021
The Brody Awards, and Louis Menand on “The Free World”
27:35

Oscars, schmoscars! Richard Brody is a critic of wide tastes and eccentric enthusiasms. His list of the best films of the year rarely lines up with the Academy’s. Each year, he joins David Remnick and the staff writer Alexandra Schwartz to talk about the year’s cinematic highlights. Plus, the staff writer Louis Menand talks with Remnick about his new work of cultural history, “The Free World.” Menand writes about the postwar flowering of American culture, when the United States evolved from an economic and military giant into a global creative force. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the world. Painters got out from under the long shadow of Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Writers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. It was a time, Menand writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”

Apr 09, 2021
David Fincher on “Mank,” and Daniel Alarcón’s Favorite Children’s Books
24:06

David Fincher made his name in Hollywood as the director of movies that pushed people’s buttons—dark thrillers like “Fight Club,” “The Game,” “Seven,” and “Gone Girl”—but his new film belongs to one of Hollywood’s most esteemed genres: stories about Hollywood. Around thirty years ago, his father, the late Jack Fincher, gave him the draft of a screenplay about Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane” and other classics. Fincher tells David Remnick that Mankiewicz was a key figure in film—one of that first generation of writers who invented a vibrant language for movies as they came into the sound era.  Nominated for ten Academy Awards (including a Best Director nomination for Fincher), “Mank” is the story of the writer’s conflict with Orson Welles in the making of “Citizen Kane,” and their struggle is one that has bedevilled creators and critics down the decades: Who really authors a film? Plus, the journalist and fiction writer Daniel Alarcón talks about three children’s books he’s been enjoying with his son during the pandemic.

Apr 06, 2021
Race and Taxes, and Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
25:43

The investigative reporter Jane Mayer recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we discussed in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile. Plus, Dorothy Brown, a professor of tax law, uncovers how the seemingly race-neutral tax code compounds many inequalities in American life, and prevents Black people from building wealth. She talks with Sheelah Kolhatkar about her new book, “The Whiteness of Wealth.”

Apr 02, 2021
The Complex Story of Being Trans in Africa, and Derek DelGaudio on Deception
32:35

Our producer talks with the South African scholar Dr. B Camminga, whose essay “Disregard and Danger” deconstructs the viewpoints of so-called TERFs—trans-exclusionary radical feminists—through an African-feminist lens. And we speak with Derek DelGaudio, whose magic special on Hulu is “In & Of Itself.” DelGaudio says that he’s never liked tricking people, and he credits his brief stint as a “bust-out dealer”—a professional card dealer who cheats the players on behalf of the house—with changing his perspective on the power of deception. DelGaudio compares the claims of a rigged election that preceded the actual election to his work as a crooked dealer: he made his legitimate deals look shady in order to camouflage the bad ones.

Mar 30, 2021
Will the Most Important Voting-Rights Bill Since 1965 Die in the Senate?
17:13

No sooner had Joe Biden won the Presidential election than Republican state legislatures began introducing measures to make voting more difficult in any number of ways, most of which will suppress Democratic turnout at the polls. Stacey Abrams, of Georgia, has called the measures “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” Congress has introduced the For the People Act, known as H.R. 1. Jelani Cobb looks at how the bill goes beyond even the 1965 Voting Rights Act in its breadth, and how it will likely fare in the Senate. And Jeannie Suk Gersen speaks with David Remnick about the Supreme Court’s views on voting rights. The Court is currently weighing an Arizona case that will help decide what really counts as discrimination in a voting restriction.

Mar 26, 2021
Remembering a City at the Peak of Crisis
49:13

April 15, 2020, was near the apex of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, which was then its epicenter. On that day, a crew of New Yorker writers talked with people all over the city, in every circumstance and walk of life, to form a portrait of a city in crisis. A group station manager for the subway talks about keeping the transit system running for those who can’t live without it; a respiratory therapist copes with break-time conversations about death and dying; a graduating class of medical students gets up the courage to confront the worst crisis in generations; and a new mother talks about giving birth on a day marked by tragedy for so many families. The hour includes contributions from writers including William Finnegan, Helen Rosner, Jia Tolentino, Kelefa Sanneh, and Adam Gopnik, who says, “One never knows whether to applaud the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life, or look aghast at the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life. That’s the mystery of the pandemic.” 

 

This episode originally aired on April 24, 2020. 

Mar 19, 2021
“2034,” and Torrey Peters on the Taboo of Detransitioning
32:32

The retired admiral James Stavridis teamed up with Elliot Ackerman, a journalist and former Marine, to imagine how, in the shadow of an increasingly tense relationship between the U.S. and China, a small incident in contested waters could spiral into catastrophe. The result is “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.” The book is a thriller, and also a cautionary tale about a failure of military planning: “We have plenty of intelligence,” Ackerman says. “What we often lack is imagination.” And Torrey Peters describes how her book “Detransition, Baby”—a dishy novel on a taboo subject—aims to move beyond the marginal spaces in which trans writing has flourished, into mainstream success with a major publisher.

Mar 16, 2021
Can the Royal Family Withstand Oprah’s Scrutiny?
17:38

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry, the Duchess and Duke of Sussex, was riveting celebrity television, but it may also be a significant turning point in the history of the British royal family. Revelations about racism and about Meghan’s struggles with mental health are already reshaping public perception of the powerful institution. The interview also touched on racism and mental health, issues that are familiar to many families. “In the future, we will look to this interview as a real touchstone marking the change of who it is we see as authorities of their own experience,” says Doreen St. Félix. In conversation with St. Félix and the eminent historian Simon Schama, the author of a three-volume history of Britain, David Remnick discusses how the interview plays into culture wars in the U.K. and in American.

Mar 12, 2021
Bonus Episode from La Brega: Basketball Warriors
37:42

Despite being a U.S. colony, Puerto Rico competes in sports as its own country on the world stage. Since the 70s, Puerto Rico’s national basketball team has been a pride of the island, taking home trophy after trophy. But in the 2004 at the Athens Olympics, the team was up against the odds, with an opening game against a U.S. Dream Team stacked with players like Lebron James and Allen Iverson. This episode of La Brega, from Futuro Media and WNYC Studios, tells the story of a basketball game that Puerto Ricans will never forget, and why he thinks now, more than ever, is a crucial moment to remember it. 

The documentary "Nuyorican Basquet" is here.

If you want to see the famous photo of Carlos Arroyo, click here.  

To read more about sovereignty and sports, we recommend The Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico, by Antonio Sotomayor. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Hiram Martinez’s workplace in 2004 as El Nuevo Dia. It was El Vocero. The story has been updated.

Mar 10, 2021
Living in the Shadow of Guantánamo
49:31

When Mohamedou Salahi arrived at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, in August of 2002, he was hopeful. He knew why he had been detained: he had crossed paths with Al Qaeda operatives, and his cousin had once called him from Osama bin Laden’s phone. But Salahi was no terrorist—he held no extremist views—and had no information of any plots. He trusted the American system of justice and thought the authorities would realize their mistake before long. 

He was wrong. 

Salahi spent fifteen years at Guantánamo, where he was subjected to some of the worst excesses of America’s war on terror; Donald Rumsfeld personally signed off on the orders for his torture. And, under torture, Salahi confessed to everything—even though he had done nothing. “If they would have wanted him to confess to being on the grassy knoll for the J.F.K. assassination, I’m sure we could have got him to confess to that, too,” Mark Fallon, who led an investigation unit at Guantánamo, said.

Ben Taub reported Mohamedou Salahi’s story for The New Yorker and tried to understand what had gone wrong in the fight against Al Qaeda. Salahi met Ben in Mauritania, because, when the U.S. released him, it was under the condition that Mauritania would withhold his passport. He would like to go abroad—he needs medical treatment, and he hopes to live in a democracy. But, for an innocent victim of Guantánamo, being released isn’t the same as being free. 

 

This episode originally aired August 2, 2019. Ben Taub’s reporting on Mohamedou Salahi won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2020.

Mar 05, 2021
Clubhouse Opens a Window for Free Expression in China
14:57

Clubhouse is an audio-only social-media platform offering chat rooms on any subject, allowing thousands of people to gather and listen to each other. Jiayang Fan, who often reports on China, tells David Remnick that the chance to talk in private and without a text trail has opened a window of free expression for Chinese users. (Recently, some questions have been raised about whether the app is as secure as its makers claim.) Suddenly, in chat rooms with names like “There is a concentration camp in Xinjiang?,” Chinese users are able to address politically taboo subjects out loud in large groups. A Clubhouse chat-room moderator explains to Fan that for Han Chinese, who are the beneficiaries of the government’s persecution of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, the app offers a space for reckoning and protest comparable to America’s Black Lives Matter movement. The government has clamped down on Clubhouse, but tech-savvy young people are used to finding workarounds.

Mar 02, 2021
Anthony Hopkins on “The Father,” and Patricia Lockwood’s First Novel
34:49

At an age when many actors are slowing down or long retired, Anthony Hopkins has kept up a feverish pace, with recent roles including Pope Benedict XVI in “The Two Popes” and Odin in Marvel’s “Thor” movies. In his new film, “The Father,” Hopkins’s character, Antony, is beginning to suffer from dementia, but he doesn’t want to accept a caregiver when his daughter, played by Olivia Colman, can no longer live with him. The film brings the viewer into Antony’s experience, particularly his confusion about what’s happening around him. Hopkins tells Michael Schulman that he hasn’t dealt with dementia in his own family, thankfully, but that he wasn’t daunted by the role. “When you’re working with a superb script, it’s a road map, and you follow it,” he says. He advises younger actors, “Don’t act too much. Keep it simple.” Plus, the writer Patricia Lockwood, who’s just published her first novel, on how she created literature out of the fractured consciousness of an obsessive Twitter user.

Feb 26, 2021
Atul Gawande on the COVID Vaccine, and Daniel Kaluuya on “Judas and the Black Messiah”
32:09

Atul Gawande, the staff writer and public-health expert, talks with David Remnick about the progress of the vaccine rollout, the new strains of the coronavirus, and whether we will ever take our masks off. And the actor Daniel Kaluuya talks about playing a man many regard as a martyr, in the new film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Kaluuya stars as Fred Hampton, a young leader in the Black Panther Party, who was shot in his bed by Chicago police in a predawn raid. The actor talked with Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety,” about how the F.B.I. and many whites saw Hampton’s affirmation of Black people as tantamount to terrorism.

Feb 23, 2021
Congressman Jamie Raskin on Impeaching Donald Trump—Again
18:15

Tommy Raskin, a twenty-five-year-old law student, took his own life on New Year’s Eve, after a long battle against depression. His family laid him to rest on January 5th, and, the next day, his father went to the United States Capitol, where he serves in Congress. Representative Jamie Raskin, who represents Maryland’s Eighth District, had an enormous task ahead of him: he was mounting the defense of the Electoral College vote. When a violent mob incited by Donald Trump breached the building, Raskin’s life was in danger, along with the lives of his daughter and son-in-law, who had joined him that day for support. Just weeks later, when the House impeached Donald Trump for his role in inciting that insurrection, Raskin was the lead manager prosecuting the case. Raskin told David Remnick about the devastation of a suicide in the family, his condolence calls from President Biden and Vice-President Harris, and how he believed the entire Senate would unite to convict Donald Trump.

Feb 19, 2021
The People Who Will Decide Donald Trump's Fate on Facebook
19:55

Facebook created the Oversight Board to adjudicate high-level claims about what can and can’t be posted, independent of the company’s leadership. This is a big deal: when Donald Trump was displeased by one of the board’s appointees, he contacted Mark Zuckerberg directly, as Kate Klonick learned in her reporting. And then Trump himself became the new board’s biggest test case. Facebook asked the board to rule on whether the former President should be reinstated, after he was banned from the platform for his role in inciting the Capitol riot. Klonick, an assistant professor of law at St. John’s University, had an unusual degree of access to Facebook to document the creation of the board. She talked with David Remnick about how independent the Oversight Board can be, how it may rule on Donald Trump, and why it’s so hard to get Jewish space lasers off Facebook.

Feb 12, 2021
The Supreme Court of Facebook
48:56

Facebook is at the center of the hottest controversies over freedom of speech, and its opaque, unaccountable decisions have angered people across the political spectrum. Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to this mess is to outsource: Facebook recently created and endowed a permanent body it calls the Oversight Board—like a Supreme Court whose decisions will be binding for the company. And Facebook immediately referred to the board a crucial question: whether to reinstate Donald Trump on the platform, after he was banned for inciting the January 6th riot at the Capitol. In this collaboration between the New Yorker Radio Hour and Radiolab, the producer Simon Adler explores the creation of the Oversight Board with Kate Klonick, whose reporting appears in The New Yorker. What they learn calls into question whether Zuckerberg’s fundamentally American-style view of free speech can be exported around the world without resulting in sometimes dire consequences. 

Feb 12, 2021
Amanda Petrusich Talks with the Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman
26:59

Amanda Petrusich describes herself as a “diehard fan” of folk music, but not when it feels precious or sentimental. That’s why she loves the Weather Station, whose songs, she thinks, “could take a punch to the face.” A solo project of the songwriter and performer Tamara Lindeman, the Weather Station’s new album, “Ignorance,” focusses on the theme of climate grief: Lindeman was responding to a devastating report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the consequences of elevated carbon levels for human societies. If that sounds heady, Lindeman tells Petrusich that it may be her heritage. “There’s this thread in Canadian music of philosophical songwriting, and that’s how I like my lyrics to be. I like them to be about ideas as well as stories. . . . Most people want songs that just tell a story; they don’t want the complicated ideas. But I do.”

 

The Weather Station performs “Robber” and “Tried to Tell You,” with Evan Cartwright on percussion and Karen Ng on saxophone. 

Feb 09, 2021
Trump Closed the U.S. to Asylum Seekers. Will Biden Reopen It?
22:52

Immediately after Inauguration, the Biden Administration began trying to unwind some of Donald Trump’s most notorious policies on immigration. But, over four years, Trump’s advisers made more than a thousand seemingly bureaucratic, technical rule changes that have had profound consequences. Sarah Stillman reports on the case of a mother and daughter who arrived at the southern border from Honduras. After the family ran afoul of local politicians and crime figures, the father was assassinated and an older daughter was raped in the presence of a police officer. Yet their appeal for asylum was rejected by a Trump-appointed judge, who went to unusual lengths to explain her reasoning. Replaying a recording of the hearing, Stillman walks through the series of legal barriers designed to send the women back into severe danger. “In order to qualify for asylum,” Stillman remarks, you almost have to have been murdered to show that you could be murdered.”  


(Many of the Trump Administration policies were driven by Stephen Miller, the ultra-hard-line immigration adviser; The New Yorker Radio Hour reported in 2020 on Miller’s influence.) 

Feb 05, 2021
Kurt Vile Talks with Amanda Petrusich
14:10

Kurt Vile—that’s his real name—helped found the rock band the War on Drugs. But he left that band shortly after its début to make records of his own. His albums include “Childish Prodigy,” “Smoke Ring for My Halo,” and the recently released “Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep.)” Vile’s music has been characterized as “slacker rock,” but he takes songwriting seriously. He’s popular enough to have been honored with Kurt Vile Day in his home town of Philadelphia, but he tells the music critic Amanda Petrusich that he still can’t get a reaction from his hero, Neil Young. He joined Petrusich in the fall of 2018, at the New Yorker Festival, for a conversation and to perform a live version of “Pretty Pimpin.” 

 

This segment originally aired April 12, 2019.  

Feb 02, 2021
William Barber, and the Question of Faith and Politics
35:40

The North Carolina pastor William Barber, who spoke at the inaugural prayer service at the start of the Biden Administration, wants politics to be guided by faith and morality. But conservatives, Barber thinks, are deeply confused about Christ’s teachings. Then Paul Elie considers Biden as only the second Catholic President. Elie thinks that Catholics demoralized by decades of the Church’s abuse scandals are welcoming Biden as a “moral authority” outside the religious hierarchy.

Jan 29, 2021
Unearthing Entombed
20:11

Now that we are some sixty years into the digital era, the early days of modern computers are growing distant and mysterious to us. The field of game archeology seeks to uncover the origins and uses of these technological artifacts, and to determine what they tell us about the industry that created them. The New Yorker writer Simon Parkin and his producer Alex Barron try some archeology of their own on a video game from 1982 called Entombed. With the tiny amount of memory on an Atari 2600 cartridge, Entombed accomplished something new, and to this day nobody can figure out how it worked. Was it really developed during a programmer’s drunken blackout?

Jan 26, 2021
Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos on the Balance of Power at the Start of the Biden Administration
29:43

With Donald Trump rated the least popular President in the span of modern polling, President Biden might feel confident in claiming a mandate to advance his progressive agenda. Yet Democratic majorities in Congress are slim in the House of Representatives, and razor-thin in the Senate. That gives a small number of Democratic conservatives and moderate Republicans outsized influence over what legislation can pass. Senator Mitch McConnell, in a power-sharing arrangement with the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, remains a force to be reckoned with. What will this balance of power mean for the new Administration? David Remnick poses this question to Jane Mayer, who has reported on McConnell’s tenure as a political operator, and to Evan Osnos, who covered Biden’s campaign and wrote a biography of the new President.

Jan 22, 2021
How Far Has the F.B.I. Gone to Protect White Supremacy?
16:49

Today, Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s work on civil rights is celebrated as bringing about one of the turning points of the twentieth century in America. But, in his own time, King was a divisive figure, unloved by millions of Americans—many members of government among them. The F.B.I. surveilled him constantly. President Lyndon Johnson worked with King to shape benchmark civil-rights legislation, but, after King spoke out against the Vietnam War, he was effectively alienated by the Administration. Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover’s agents at the F.B.I. began active measures to destroy King’s reputation and end his public influence, threatening to expose an extramarital affair. The documentary “MLK/FBI,” directed by Sam Pollard, examines this low point in the federal government’s abuse of power. Pollard tells Jelani Cobb that Hoover must have wondered, “ ‘How dare a Black man try to change the America I grew up in?’ The America he knew and loved was on a road to change. And he was totally against it.” Even today, as a leaked document shows, some within the F.B.I. see Black activists’ calls for justice and recognition as potential dangers to be watched carefully.

Jan 18, 2021
Donald Trump’s American Carnage Comes to Washington
33:05

Luke Mogelson and Susan B. Glasser report on the convulsions of Donald Trump’s final days in office, an unprecedented second impeachment of a President, and the threat of insurrectionary violence hovering over the entire nation. And a game designer offers insights on how the fantastical, wholly fictional narrative of QAnon has captivated so many people—to such dangerous effect.

Jan 15, 2021
Questions about the Variant Virus, and Posthumous Albums by Pop Smoke and others
23:03

A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is making its way around the world; in the U.S., it has been found in at least three states: California, Colorado, and New York. Joe Osmundson, an assistant professor of biology at New York University, speaks with the New Yorker staff writer Carolyn Kormann about why this new strain is particularly concerning. It has twenty-three mutations—far more than scientists would expect an RNA virus to have—which makes it at least fifty per cent more contagious than the original virus. The response, Osmundson says, should be to double down on reducing transmission by encouraging a culture of caution. Mask wearing, he warns, might be with us for a long time. Osmundson came of age as a gay man during the AIDS crisis, and he compares our pressing need for social distancing to the cultural change that took place during that era. “It was not a joy, growing up, to worry about H.I.V. every time I had sex, and to feel like if I don’t wear a condom, I might die,” he tells Kormann. “And yet that was part of how we cared for each other. It is a way to care.” Plus, a music editor and writer picks some favorites from a very specific genre: posthumous rap albums. 

Jan 12, 2021
Democrats Take the Senate, and a Mob Storms the Capitol
15:29

On January 6th, pro-Trump fanatics stormed the Capitol, galvanized by the President’s claims that the 2020 election had been stolen. That day, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were declared the victors of their respective Senate runoff races against Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, two champions of Trump’s incendiary theories. Charles Bethea, a New Yorker staff writer based in Atlanta, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss whether this is the end of an era or just the beginning.

Jan 08, 2021
Bruce Springsteen Talks with David Remnick
48:53

Bruce Springsteen, an American music legend for more than four decades, published his autobiography, “Born to Run,” in 2016.  David Remnick called it “as vivid as his songs, with that same pedal-to-the-floor quality, and just as honest about the struggles in his own life.” In October of that year, Springsteen appeared at the New Yorker Festival for an intimate conversation with the editor. (The event sold out in six seconds.) This entire episode is dedicated to that conversation. Springsteen tells Remnick how, as a young musician gigging around New Jersey, he decided to up his game: “I’m going to have to write some songs that are fireworks . . . I needed to do something that was more original.” They talked for more than an hour about Springsteen’s tortured relationship with his father, his triumphant audition for the legendary producer John Hammond, and his struggles with depression. As Springsteen explains it, his tremendously exuberant concert performances were a form of catharsis: “I had had enough of myself by that time to want to lose myself. So I went onstage every night to do exactly that.”

 

 This episode originally aired in 2016.  

Jan 01, 2021
Atul Gawande and Andrew Bird Discuss the Art and Science of Cancer
19:54

Atul Gawande is a New Yorker staff writer, a practicing surgeon, and an indie-music fan, and he loves the work of the songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and whistling virtuoso Andrew Bird; Gawande has included Bird’s songs in playlists he uses in the operating room. In 2016, at the New Yorker Festival, Gawande spoke with Bird about songwriting, confronting illness, the nature of cancer, and whistling. Andrew Bird performed “Capsized,” in which he played all of the parts with the help of looping devices.


Bird’s latest record is “Hark!” a Christmas-themed album. Atul Gawande was recently appointed to the incoming Biden Administration’s COVID-19 task force.

Dec 29, 2020
Lawrence Wright on How the Pandemic Response Went So Wrong
31:24

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine mark what we hope will be the beginning of the end of the global pandemic. The speed of vaccine development has been truly unprecedented, but this breakthrough is taking place at a moment when the U.S. death toll has also reached a new peak—over three thousand per day. How was the response to such a clear danger mismanaged so tragically? The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright—who has reported on Al Qaeda and the Church of Scientology—has followed the story of the pandemic unfolding in the United States since the first lockdowns in March. Wright walks David Remnick through key moments of decision-making in the Trump White House: from the response to the first reports of a virus to botched mask mandates and testing rollouts, up through the emergency-use authorization of the vaccine. The Trump Administration bears much responsibility for the bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic, but Wright also finds ample evidence of larger, systemic breakdown. “The magnitude of our failure,” he tells David Remnick, “is unparalleled.” 

Dec 28, 2020
Looking Back at an Unimaginable Year
29:07

It’s a cliché now, but by no means an overstatement, that the past twelve months have been unimaginable. This week, we’ll hear four short reflections on the events of 2020. Dhruv Khullar describes the early days of the pandemic, when he was taking care of patients in a COVID-19 ward. Anna Wiener visits California’s Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which burned during the catastrophic West Coast fire season that destroyed acreage close to the area of Massachusetts. Simon Parkin waxes nostalgic—already!—for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a video game that occupied untold hours of families at home together. And Kevin Young, The New Yorker’s poetry editor, picks two poems that stand as monuments to what we have lived through: “George Floyd,” by Terrance Hayes, and “The End of Poetry,” by Ada Limón, both of which were read by the authors.

Dec 25, 2020
Bryant Terry “Blackifies” Fennel, and Ian Frazier Says Goodbye to 2020, in Verse
18:39

Bryant Terry is a chef, educator, food-justice activist, and cookbook author. He joined Helen Rosner virtually to cook a dish from his recent book, “Vegetable Kingdom”: citrus and garlic-herb braised fennel. The dish calls for marinating the bulb in mojo, a citrus-juice-based Cuban condiment more typically paired with meat. Terry says that he wants to “Blackify” fennel, as part of his project to “uplift” Black culinary traditions from the global African diaspora. Plus, Ian Frazier reads a poem written for the 2020 holiday season.

Dec 22, 2020
The Republican Rift in Georgia, and the Protests Sweeping Nigeria
30:41

In the past month, a fracture has opened up in the G.O.P. between those who grudgingly accept Joe Biden’s win and those who falsely claim that the election was rigged. In Georgia, supporters of Donald Trump have turned on Republican election officials—in some cases, with threats of violence. The Atlanta-based staff writer Charles Bethea explains why this rift is dangerous for Republicans. Georgia’s two incumbent Senate seats are up for grabs in a runoff election in January; the G.O.P. needs to retain at least one to maintain its majority and to give Mitch McConnell near-veto power over the Biden agenda. But the more that the President and his followers attack the election, the less likely Republican voters are to turn out to vote—which would create an advantage for the Democratic Senate hopefuls. Bethea spoke with Gabe Sterling, an election official in Georgia; Lin Wood, an attorney who is fuelling conspiracy theories; and voters at a Trump rally in Valdosta. Plus, protests against police violence took place around the world this year; in Nigeria, they might lead to the undoing of a notoriously lawless and brutal police unit. 

Dec 18, 2020
The “Times Square Two” Fight to Clear Their Names
26:07

As teens, in the nineteen-eighties, Eric Smokes and David Warren were arrested for the robbery and murder of a tourist near Times Square on New Years Eve; an acquaintance had accused them, receving a lighter sentence for an unrelated crime in exchange for coöperating with police. Warren refused a plea deal in which he would have had to accuse Smokes, and both received lengthy sentences. Over decades in prison, they maintained their innocence, but they faced an impossible dilemma: without parole, they might have spent the rest of their lives behind bars, and, in order to get parole, they would have to take responsibility and express remorse for a crime they insist that they didn’t commit. Now middle-aged men, and still best friends, Warren and Smokes continue to fight to vacate the charges against them. Jennifer Gonnerman looks at the impossible choices they faced in the justice system.

Dec 15, 2020
Ayanna Pressley and Abigail Spanberger on the Rift in the Democratic Party
20:03

In November, when the Democratic Party lost seats in the House and a hoped-for victory in the Senate fizzled, centrist Democrats were quick to blame left-leaning progressives. Rhetoric about democratic socialism and defunding the police, they said, had scared away moderate voters and was costing the Party its influence. David Remnick speaks with two prominent House members on opposite sides of this debate: Abigail Spanberger, a centrist whose caustic comments about progressive rhetoric were leaked to the press; and Ayanna Pressley, one of the four progressives known as “the Squad,” who insists that “impact,” rather than compromise, is the best way to sway voters.

Dec 11, 2020
Steve McQueen Comes Home
32:33

Steve McQueen is the director of four feature films, including the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave.” His new series, “Small Axe,” which is streaming on Amazon, consists of five portraits of the West Indian community in London from the late nineteen-sixties through the nineteen-eighties. For McQueen, the stories allowed him to reflect on painful aspects of his own upbringing in that time and place—like the way many children of immigrant families were shunted into “subnormal” schools. “I wanted to feel that I exist,” McQueen tells Richard Brody. “This is part of the narrative of the world, part of the narrative of life. And sometimes things like that never get seen or never get noticed or never get the recognition.” Plus, the staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar on what happens to families in Haredi Jewish communities when one parent leaves the faith.

Dec 08, 2020
Atul Gawande on Taming the Coronavirus
17:48

Can a vaccine be distributed fairly? What will be the impact if a large number of people don’t take it—as they say they won’t? Atul Gawande, a New Yorker staff writer who was recently appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, walks David Remnick through some of the challenges of this pivotal moment. F.D.A. approval of at least one vaccine is expected imminently, but hospitalizations are still rising rapidly around the country, and Gawande is concerned that news of an approval could lead to more irresponsible behavior. “If, once people start getting vaccinated, they start throwing the masks away and you can’t get them to do social distancing,” he said, “then you’re really relying on vaccination as the sole prong of the strategy.” More than forty per cent of people polled say that they are reluctant to take the new vaccines, but Gawande suspects that the real number of resisters may be much smaller. “Part of the reason it’s good that health-care workers would go first is [that] . . . health-care workers are everywhere. Which means we’re all going to know people who got vaccinated, and we’re going to see that they did all right.”

Dec 04, 2020
Live at Home Part II: Phoebe Bridgers
32:21

Phoebe Bridgers’s tour dates were cancelled—she was booked at Madison Square Garden, among other venues—so she performs songs from her recent album, “Punisher,” from home. The critic Amanda Petrusich talks about the joys of Folkways records, and the novelist Donald Antrim talks about a year in which he suffered from crippling depression and rarely left his apartment, finding that only music could be a balm for his isolation and fear.

Dec 01, 2020
Live at Home Part I: John Legend
16:39

Like everyone in the United States, John Legend has spent much of the past year in lockdown. He has been recording new music (via Zoom), performing on Instagram, and promoting his upcoming album. Though many artists have delayed releasing records until they can schedule concert dates—increasingly the most reliable revenue in the music industry—Legend didn’t want to hold back. The new album, “Bigger Love,” was written before the pandemic and the current groundswell of protest for racial justice, but his message about resilience and faith resonates. All art, Legend tells David Remnick, “is there to help us imagine a different future.”

Nov 27, 2020
A Novel About a Secret Family, and Adam Gopnik on Being Old
33:53

Sanaë Lemoine’s début novel, “The Margot Affair,” is about a seventeen-year-old high-school student whose father, a high-ranking official, does not acknowledge her or her mother publicly. In telling Margot’s story, Lemoine drew upon her own complex family history: when she was twenty-one, she discovered that her father had a secret second family. In an act of literary justice, Margot decides to take action to force her father’s public acknowledgement, in a way that Lemoine herself did not. Plus, Adam Gopnik explores the predicament of an aging population. People of retirement age will outnumber children in the U.S. in about fifteen years, but they are poorly served by the field of design. Gopnik sets out to experience their difficulties firsthand.

Nov 24, 2020
The Fight to Turn Georgia Blue
15:48

This month, Georgia flipped: its voters picked a Democrat for President for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first-term election. To a significant degree, Charles Bethea says, this was owing to political organizing among Black voters; after all, Donald Trump still received approximately seventy per cent of the white vote. Bethea tells David Remnick about the political evolution of the state, and he speaks with two Democratic organizers: Nsé Ufot, the C.E.O. of the New Georgia Project, and Royce Reeves, Sr., a city commissioner in Cordele, Georgia.

Nov 20, 2020
Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, and Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax
40:01

Between the two of them, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin have nearly a century of experience in the delicate art of telling jokes. In a conversation with Susan Morrison during the 2020 New Yorker Festival, they discussed their long careers, learning how to adjust to new cultural forces, and the process of aging. Plus, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform a piece of music that they have both been playing for more than forty years: Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 in A Major. “This is such open, hopeful music,” Ax said. Yet Beethoven signed one manuscript of the music, “amid tears and sorrow.” “I thought this was a good piece for this moment,” Ma told The New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross. “Because people are suffering, and we do think that music can give comfort.”

Nov 17, 2020