• 2018 Podcasts

2018 Festival Podcasts

Ep. 1 – Viet Thanh Nguyen Art and Politics

Viet Thanh Nguyen interviewed by Karen Tei Yamashita

This Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur awardee talks about the role of the writer in society, the importance of art to politics and the power of the written word. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design.

Ep. 2 – Gary Snyder & Kim Stanley Robinson: Mt. Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, and Naming What Can’t Be Named

Gary Snyder, Kim Stanley Robinson, Laurie Glover, introduced by Jack Shoemaker

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Snyder and renowned science fiction writer and environmentalist Robinson climbed a mountain in the Sierras to christen it Mt. Thoreau. With their editor and publisher, they talk about civil disobedience, nature writing, the environmental movement, poetry and naming the unnameable. Sponsored by the Journal of Alta California.

Ep. 3 – Lidia Yuknavitch in Person: On Fearlessness, Truth, and Misfits

Lidia Yuknavitch, interviewed by Daphne Gottlieb

A call for authenticity in life and literature: The author of the award-winning speculative feminist novel “The Book of Joan” and the hypnotic memoir “The Chronology of Water” and self proclaimed “misfit” has penned a book, enhanced by interviews, called “The Misfit’s Manifesto.”

Ep. 4 – #MeToo & Beyond: Continuing to Tell the Truth

Saru Jayaraman, Winnie M. Li, T. Christian Miller, Bernice Yeung, moderated by Sandhya Dirks

Together these writers, who have plumbed the topic of sexual assault deeply (and personally), will deconstruct the movement and explore its future. Sponsored by Zoetic Press.

Ep. 5 – The Power of Literature to Create a Better World: Closing Keynote with Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer, John Freeman

Drawing upon his 32 years as a writer and his 44 years as a traveler, Iyer will close the festival with a keynote illuminating the power of literature to create a world beyond walls. Iyer will then be interviewed by renowned literary critic John Freeman.

Ep. 6 – Resisting Hate with Free Speech

Nadine Strossen interviewed by Erwin Chemerinsky

The former president of the American Civil Liberties Union presents her book “HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship” — released for the first time at the festival in the home of the Free Speech Movement. Interviewed by the dean of UC Berkeley Law. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design.

Ep. 7 – The Common Good with Robert Reich (Saturday Night Keynote)

Robert Reich

What has happened to civility and civic responsibility? What makes a good citizen in today’s America? Reich makes a heartfelt call to a nation on the brink as he shows us how to do our part in saving America’s soul.

Ep. 8 – Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet

Joan Halifax interviewed by Dacher Keltner

Zen Roshi (teacher) and anthropologist Joan Halifax ventures to answer the enduring question: How do we live well for ourselves and others at the same time? Emotion expert and director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center Dacher Keltner will interview. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design.

Ep. 9 – JCC East Bay Presents: Thriving Past Trauma — Holocaust Survivor Dr. Edith Eger with “The Choice”

Dr. Edith Eger interviewed by Elizabeth Rosner

Ninety-two year-old Auschwitz survivor and trauma psychologist comes to us to discuss one of the most compelling books we’ve read this year, which Desmond Tutu called “a gift to humanity.” Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay with the generous support of Eve Gordon-Ramek; in memory of Mayer Goldberg and Henry Ramek.

Ep. 10 – Wrestling with the Devil: Ngugi wa Thiong’o in Conversation

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o interviewed by Namwali Serpell

Taken prisoner by the Kenyan government in 1977 because of artistic defiance of the regime, this Nobel Prize short-listed writer will recount this experience, its effect on his art and the freedom to write. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design.

Ep. 11 – Alice Waters and Jonathan Kauffman: A Revolution in Food

Alice Waters, Jonathan Kauffman, interviewed by Tom Philpott

The purchase, preparation and experience of food are choices that profoundly shape not only our individual lives but social justice and our entire ecosystem. Alice Waters (“the most important figure in the culinary history of North America”) and San Francisco Chronicle food writer Jonathan Kauffman highlight the implications. Sponsored by Mother Jones.

Ep. 12 – Fierce Originality: Eimear McBride interviewed by Sylvia Brownrigg

Eimear McBride interviewed by Sylvia Brownrigg

Compared to a feminist James Joyce, McBride comes to us from Ireland to talk about writing, life, feminism and communicating consciousness through deconstructive writing. With the support of Culture Ireland.

Ep. 13 – Loaded: Guns in America

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz interviewed by Adam Hochschild

After every mass shooting, calls for stricter gun regulations ring out on one side; on the other, an insistence on guns, even on campuses, in the name of protection. Famed activist and feminist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discusses her new book on the second amendment with Pulitzer Prize winner T.J. Stiles.

Ep. 14 – Murder and Survival: The Remarkable Story of Indian Rebirth in the Wake of Genocide

Benjamin Madley, Peter Cozzens, moderated by Greg Sarris

Two eminent historians and a tribal chairman discuss the trauma visited upon Native tribes and explore the challenges and opportunities of the current moment, including Native activism. With support from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Ep. 15 – Translating Trauma

Katherena Vermette, Winnie M. Li, moderated by Natasha Singh

These writers showcase the art of writing trauma — one focusing on Native women and the other inspired by her own experience as a survivor of assault. With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Ep. 16 – Income Inequality: A World Gone Mad, Mean and Immoral

Steven Clifford, Jeff Clements, Robert Reich, moderated by John Diaz

Disparity in wages and opportunity between the rich and the rest of us has grown rapidly in the U.S.; what are the causes and consequences? With support from the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation.

Ep. 17 – Jabberwalking with Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

This festival favorite and former U.S. Poet Laureate will teach you everything he knows about being a poet on the move. While his new book is technically for kids, anyone can learn to jabberwalk! With support from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Ep. 18 – Men and Boys 2018: Cultural and Personal Masculinities

Dacher Keltner, Michael Kimmel, moderated by Otis R. Taylor Jr.

As women across the world make their painful experiences visible, men have begun to grapple with how the masculine identity shapes the power imbalance.

Ep. 19 – Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy

Magdalena Yesil interviewed by Laura D. Tyson

This smart, compassionate woman — who arrived in this country as a near-penniless immigrant student and became one of the founding board members of Salesforce — gives other smart women the tools they need to win. Sponsored by Strong Legacy Planning.

Ep. 20 – Smart Activism: History and Hope, with L.A. Kauffman and Rebecca Solnit

L.A. Kauffman, Rebecca Solnit

One of the Bay Area’s most famous activists talks with a movement insider on the history and future of activism. How have past movements used disruptive tactics to catalyze change? Is there hope in the dark, and how do we act on it? Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design.

Ep. 21 – Murder She Writes: Catherine Coulter Talks with Laurie R. King

Catherine Coulter interviewed by Laurie R. King

The New York Times bestselling suspense writer will be interviewed by Mystery Writers of America NorCal President, a bestselling author of 25 novels. They’ll talk Coulter’s craft, art and life of writing. Sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, Northern California Chapter.

Ep. 22 – The Empire and the Resistance of Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir interviewed by Ben Schwartz

Through her characters, Pakistani-American young adult fiction writer Sabaa Tahir shows us what’s right, what’s possible, and what sorts of governance need not be tolerated.

Ep. 23 – Melissa de la Cruz Writes It All: History, Fantasy, Modern Life

Melissa de la Cruz interviewed by Jessica Lee

This versatile author has written more than 45 chart-topping books — from the historical love story of Alex and Eliza Hamilton to the fantastical prequel to “The Descendants.” She talks the challenges of risky writing and how she finds her groove.

Ep. 24 – Timeless: Historical Fiction

Heather O’Neill, Linda Spalding, Adrienne Sharp, moderated by Terry Gamble

Great historical fiction rewards readers with entertainment and education at the same time. With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Ep. 25 – Resist: Unlocking the Political Power of a Novel

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Rodrigo Hasbún, Madeleine Thien, moderated by Mal Warwick

These talented novelists explain how the novel can illuminate political change in ways that no non-fiction account can. With the support of the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Ep. 26 – Viv Albertine, Formerly of The Slits, Sits Down with Greil Marcus

Viv Albertine interviewed by Greil Marcus

Post punk rocker (formerly of the feminist cult band The Slits) comes to us from the UK to confront questions of feminism, family and inevitable death with her trademark raw, intimate, vulnerable style.

Ep. 27 – Utter Fascination: The Art of the Exceptionally Complex Character

Åsa Avdic, Therese Bohman, Carl Frode Tiller, moderated by Laleh Khadivi

Come hear how writers dream up, and then capture on the page, entirely new people who are exceptionally complicated. With the support of the Norway House Foundation, NORLA – Norwegian Literature Abroad, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco.

Ep. 28 – The Art of Memoir: A Story That Must Be Heard

Francisco Cantu, Julie Lythcott-Haims, Elizabeth Rosner, moderated by Marie Mockett

Memoir writers have the especially challenging task of confronting their own past and creating themselves as a character. In their memoirs, these writers address the U.S. Border Patrol, the experience of Holocaust survivors and growing up mixed-race in America.

Ep. 29 – The Book Review: Top Reviewers Share How It’s Done

Lydia Kiesling, Paul Laity, John McMurtrie, Ismail Muhammad, moderated by Jane Ciabattari

These established reviewers take us inside the process: Lydia Kiesling, editor of The Millions; Paul Laity, non-fiction reviewer at The Guardian; Ismail Muhammad, reviewer for The Millions and contributor to Slate and the Paris Review; and Jane Ciabattari, BBC reviewer and former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Ep. 30 – What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Frank Ostaseski interviewed by Kate Campbell

World-renowned Buddhist teacher Frank Ostaseski will discuss the tenets of a life well lived and share simple suggestions everyone can practice. Sponsored by North Berkeley Investment Partners.

Ep. 31 – YES to Girls & Science!

Emily Calandrelli

The “SpaceGal” delivers a new character, Ada, who inspires young readers to ask questions and lean into their curiosity, showing them that scientists and engineers can look just like them!

Ep. 32 – Off the Map: Traveling, Self, and Other

Sylvia Brownrigg, Kerry Campbell, Geoff Dyer, John Freeman, Moderated by Olivia Sears

The best travel writing is about exploration of “the other” and an embrace of this new terrain into self and one’s understanding of the greater world. These writers explore the concept of “place” from very different perspectives.

Ep. 33 – Race and Racism in America

Edward L. Ayers, Khaled Beydoun, Julie Lythcott-Haims, moderated by Scott Shafer

These authors — an eminent historian, an attorney and critical race scholar and a mixed-race lawyer — explore race and the deep origins and expressions of racism in this country.

Ep. 34 – Women & Speculative Fiction: In the Footsteps of Atwood, Butler, and Le Guin

Åsa Avdic, Maggie Shen King, Lidia Yuknavitch, Meg Elison, moderated by Charlie Jane Anders

A new generation of female authors holds in their hands the future of speculative fiction. With the support of Zoetic Press, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and the Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco.

Ep. 35 – Brenda Hillman and Geoffrey G. O’Brien: A Conversation

Brenda Hillman, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, introduced by Rachel Richardson

What is the role of creative political resistance in a time of ascendant fascism? From the elegy to the love poem, from the individual to the collective, these poets will explore how words give us strength.

Ep. 36 – Timeless Wisdom: Greg Sarris on Telling Tales and Native American Literary Tradition

Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris’s book, “How a Mountain Was Made,” mythologizes the Northern California landscape with Native stories — fables with universal resonance and beauty. Sponsored by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Ep. 37 – Nina LaCour Up Close and Personal

Nina LaCour interviewed by Regan McMahon

Nina LaCour’s characters look a lot like her readers. This awardwinning author has devoted her life to young adults: first as a teacher, then as a writer. Her new novel “We Are Okay” deals with trauma, isolation, coping and change.

Ep. 38 – The Imperative for Truth: Academy Award-Winning Documentarian Errol Morris in Conversation with Edward Frenkel

Errol Morris interviewed by Edward Frenkel

In a time when truth is ever more embattled, one of its greatest creative and intellectual practitioners releases his new book at the festival.

Ep. 39 – Pep Talk for Writers!

Grant Faulkner, Brooke Warner

A must-see for anyone who believes they have a book in them: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Executive Director Grant Faulkner appears in person with coach and publisher Brooke Warner to discuss turning inspiration into a tangible product.

Ep. 40 – What Makes a Life Worth Living? Powerful Memoirs of Love and Loss

Lucy Kalanithi, Rebecca Soffer, Elizabeth Percer, moderated by Elizabeth Scarboro

The widow of Paul Kalanithi, author of the bestselling “When Breath Becomes Air,” is joined by Rebecca Soffer, editor of the new anthology “Modern Loss,” and contributor Elizabeth Percer to discuss grief and meaning. Sponsored by SACHI – Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India.

Ep. 41 – Beyond Borders: Powerful Writers on Immigration

Francisco Cantu, Hernan Diaz, Lauren Markham, moderated by Ian Gordon

This diverse panel — a former U.S. Border Patrol agent haunted by the job he quit, a novelisthistorian and a journalist — provides a sweeping perspective on this vital issue. Sponsored by Mother Jones.

Ep. 42 – The Modern Writer’s Practice, Presented by California College of the Arts

Faith Adiele, Tonya Foster, Aimee Phan, Leslie Carol Roberts, moderated by Tom Barbash

Writers shoulder a responsibility as voices for their time. Faculty members from CCA’s MFA in Writing program, spanning travel, memoir, fiction and poetry, interrogate the role of creative practice in the 21st century. Sponsored by the California College of Arts MFA in Writing Program.

Ep. 43 – The Future of Publishing

Emily Bell, Niels Hooper, Elaine Katzenberger, Avalon Radys, moderated by Brooke Warner

An informed, freewheeling discussion for aspiring and published authors and anyone curious about the state of book publishing. Panelists represent the many faces of publishing — from big house to small, university press to hybrid, traditional and non-traditional alike.

Ep. 44 – Native Voices Changing the Story

Tommy Orange, Katherena Vermette, moderated by Carolina De Robertis

These powerful rising voices are breaking new ground in Native literature. The first 100 attendees will receive an excerpt of Orange’s book, set to hit shelves in June. With support from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Ep. 45 – Breaking Literary Ground: Ambitious Young Writers from Ireland

Eimear McBride, David Hayden, Liz Nugent, moderated by Rosemary Graham

The small country of Ireland has always had an outsize influence on world literature. For the third year in a row, the festival showcases some of today’s most powerful writers who come from this land of literary pioneers. With the support of Culture Ireland.

Ep. 46 – Barbara Ehrenreich on Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Barbara Ehrenreich interviewed by Clara Jeffery

Ehrenreich has taken on the minimum wage, abortion rights, women’s lives, marijuana laws, and now, in her new book, death itself. She examines diet culture, disease screenings and all of the other practices humans engage in to ensure a long life. Sponsored by Mother Jones.

Ep. 47 – How Stories Make the World

Joyce Carol Oates, Scott Saul, Ismail Muhammad, Anthony Marra, moderated by Joe Di Prisco

These titans of storytelling discuss the power stories have to galvanize the world, create cultures and bind us all together. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Arts + Design and the Simpson Family Literary Project.

Ep. 48 – The Power of History: Turning Groundbreaking Scholarship into Page-Turning Prose

Edward L. Ayers, Peter Cozzens, Joel Richard Paul, T. J. Stiles, moderated by Steve Wasserman

Is best-selling history bad history? Does good history have to be dull reading? Award-winning historians and biographers reveal how they explore big questions of American history through captivating narratives that win esteem in the academy yet appeal to wide audiences. Sponsored by Reed Schmidt, with partial support from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Ep. 49 – Women Changing the World: How Phoebe Hearst, Jane Stanford, and Other Women Funded Feminism, Founded Universities, and Inspire Philanthropy Today

Joan Marie Johnson, Catherine Pyke, Alexandra Nickliss, Moderated by Julie Castro Abrams

Phoebe Hearst was the eclectic mother of the University of California at Berkeley, just as Jane Stanford co-founded her namesake university through hands-on activism. What lessons do the stories of these brilliant, empowered women hold today for any woman who wants to use financial resources to shape society? Sponsored by the Journal of Alta California.

Ep. 50 – Writing and Risk: A Conversation with Laleh Khadivi and Michael David Lukas, University of San Francisco MFA in Writing

Laleh Khadivi, Michael David Lukas, moderated by Bich Minh Nguyen

The process of writing something daring doesn’t end with publication — authors have to live with the consequences of taking these risks, personally and socially. These panelists invite audience members to ask their own risky questions. Sponsored by the University of San Francisco, MFA in Writing Program.

Ep. 51 – Muckraker: The Life and Times of Warren Hinckle

Pia Hinckle, Robert Scheer, Ron Turner, Steve Wasserman, moderated by Peter Richardson

Drawing on a new anthology dedicated to legendary writer and editor Warren Hinckle and his final book, these writers reflect on the life and work of a Bay Area original. Sponsored by the Journal of Alta California.