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© WNYC Studios and The New Yorker
WNYC Studios and The New Yorker presents
The New Yorker Radio Hour
Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.
October 19, 2021
Jon Stewart: “That’s Not Cancel Culture”
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” defined an era. For more than sixteen years, Stewart and his many correspondents skewered American politics. At the , 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.”
October 15, 2021
Daniel Craig Takes Off the Tux
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.
October 13, 2021
Kara Walker Talks with Thelma Golden
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 by Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
October 8, 2021
An Interview with Merrick Garland, and Susan Orlean on Animals
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.”
October 5, 2021
Broadway’s Unusual Reopening, and Amanda Petrusich Picks Three
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.
October 1, 2021
Jonathan Franzen Talks with David Remnick About “Crossroads”
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 “” 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.”
September 28, 2021
Should the Climate Movement Embrace Sabotage?
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.
September 24, 2021
Jelani Cobb on the Kerner Report, an Unheeded Warning about the Consequences of Racism
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 . 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.
September 21, 2021
Joaquin Castro: “Americans Don’t Know Who Latinos Are”
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 . 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.
September 17, 2021
Wes Anderson and Jeffrey Wright on “The French Dispatch”
“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.
September 17, 2021
Bonus: “The French Dispatch” Reads The New Yorker
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.
September 14, 2021
The Insidious Procedural Traps of the Texas Abortion Law
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.
September 10, 2021
Remembering September 11th, and the Future of the Taliban
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.
September 7, 2021
The Child Tax Credit: One Small Step Toward Universal Basic Income?
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.
September 3, 2021
Riz Ahmed on “Mogul Mowgli”
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!’ ”
August 27, 2021
Kim Stanley Robinson on “Utopian” Science Fiction
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 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.”
August 27, 2021
The Joy of Beach Reads
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.
August 24, 2021
Home Cooking with Jacques Pepin and Klancy Miller
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.
August 20, 2021
Dexter Filkins on the Fall of Afghanistan
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. Plus, The New Yorker’s puzzles editor puts David Remnick and Naomi Fry through a couple of rounds of the new online quiz, Name Drop.
August 13, 2021
Liesl Tommy, Director of “Respect”
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 . “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.”