About this podcast
The literary podcast presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller. Brought to you by Unbound. Visit www.backlisted.fm
About this podcast
The literary podcast presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller. Brought to you by Unbound. Visit www.backlisted.fm
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
Josephine Tey's classic mystery Miss Pym Disposes (1946) is the subject of this special episode of Backlisted, recorded as part of Aberdeen's Granite Noir festival on February 19th 2021. Joining John and Andy to explore the life and career of Josephine Tey AKA Gordon Daviot AKA Elizabeth MacKintosh (her real name) is Val McDermind, bestselling author and Tey's fellow Queen of Crime. Tey was the author of a series of highly successful novels, and film and TV adaptations, including Brat Farrar, The Franchise Affair and The Daughter of Time, yet she remains something of an enigma. As you'll hear, we thoroughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in her work and learning more about her from Val. Please note: this audio version of the podcast is longer and contains more material than the Granite Noir video webcast. If you would like to watch the original, it's currently available via the Granite Noir website or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omuqekhpM8A.
Job: The Story of a Simple Man by Joseph Roth
Joseph Roth's Job: The Story of a Simple Man (1930) is the subject of this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to explore this austere and powerful novel, first published in German as Hiob: Roman eines einfachen Mannes, are Keiron Pim, whose much-anticipated biography of Joseph Roth will be published in 2022, and a returning Backlisted guest, bibliomemoirist and playwright Samantha Ellis. Roth was a prolific yet enigmatic writer - his other books include The Radetzky March and The Legend of the Holy Drinker - and this episode takes a long, considered look at his (often chaotic) life and work, and where Job fits into both. Also in this episode, Andy shares a reading by Salena Godden from her acclaimed new novel Mrs Death Misses Death, while John is beguiled by the fragmented visions of Max Porter's The Death of Francis Bacon.
Locklisted: Teenage Books Special
This Locklisted episode is the sequel to our earlier Children's Books Special. It was recorded in August 2020 and was previously available exclusively to supporters of our Patreon at patreon.com/backlisted. This time we cover our teenage years and the tricky transition into ‘adult’ readers. Much of the conversation is dominated by of our re-reading of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, but you also get John falling for James Joyce at seventeen (via Wilbur Smith), Nicky moving from Puffin Plus to Douglas Coupland, a digression on the horror novels of Stephen King and James Herbert and a haunting reading by Andy from Graham Greene. Backlisted is entirely funded by the contributions of our Patreons - many thanks to them! If you would like to hear all past episodes of Locklisted and support Backlisted in the process, please sign up as a Locklistener or Master Storyteller at patreon.com/backlisted.
Karoo by Steve Tesich
Karoo (1998), a posthumously-published cult novel by screenwriter and playwright Steve Tesich is the subject of this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to analyse this dark and hilarious tale of a Hollywood script doctor's apocalyptic decline and fall are journalist and podcaster Sali Hughes and novelist John Niven (who previously guested on Backlisted ep. 09 discussing Martin Amis's The Information). Also in this episode, John enjoys This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England, 1760-1960 by Robert Colls, a social history of the English and their relationship to sport. Andy, meanwhile, has been reading Unquiet Landscape, Christopher Neve's recently-republished study of the English imagination in 20th-century landscape painting.
The Bloater by Rosemary Tonks
Rosemary Tonks is the subject of this episode of Backlisted. Our starting point is her fascinating third novel The Bloater (1968) - which is long out of print, unfortunately - but we also discuss her remarkable poetry, her friendship with Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, her eccentric career in fiction, radio and theatre, and her gradual retreat from the world. Joining John and Andy to discover more about this unique and enigmatic writer are two of Tonks's admirers, author and critic Jennifer Hodgson and the comedian Stewart Lee. Also in this episode Andy replenishes his enthusiasm for Elizabeth Taylor with her (bizarrely underrated) novel The Wedding Group (1968), while John shines a light on Andy Charman's Crow Court, a new novel of short stories set in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, in the 19th century, published by Unbound.
Locklisted: Children's Books Special, Part One
This Locklisted special on children's books was recorded in August 2020 and was previously available exclusively to supporters of our Patreon at patreon.com/backlisted. Join us on a journey through time and space as John, Andy and Nicky discuss the books they loved as children (so actually no pubs were involved or even mentioned on this occasion). The discussion covers the importance of libraries, the Proustian aroma of parquet flooring, the challenges of the display spinner, the significance of the Puffin Club, the utility of book tokens and the joys of early audio books. The books mentioned make for an eclectic mix and include Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner, The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars, the Hitchhikers series by Douglas Adams, I-Spy books, the epic sweep of Sweet Valley High, Great Northern by Arthur Ransome, The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, the audiobook of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (as read by Glenda Jackson), the audiobook of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, comics such as Mandy and Look-in, the sublime Peanuts collections by Charles M. Schulz and last but definitely not least, Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters by Malcolm Hulke. We so enjoyed making this episode that we recorded a sequel on our favourite teenage reading, which will be shared here soon. Backlisted is entirely funded by the contributions of our Patreons - many thanks to them! If you would like to hear all past episodes of Locklisted and support Backlisted in the process, please sign up as a Locklistener or Master Storyteller at patreon.com/backlisted.
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Susan Cooper's magical novel The Dark Is Rising (1973) is the subject of a bumper Christmas special episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss this classic winter solstice read, and the four other books that make up the Dark Is Rising sequence, are writer Robert Macfarlane and writer and illustrator Jackie Morris, co-authors of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells and fellow Susan Cooper devotees. And because it is Christmas, John also talks about a beautiful ice-and-snow bound story from the Chuckchi people of the Bering Sea, When the Whales Leave by Yuri Rytkheu, and Andy reads The Tree Room, a poem from Caroline Bird's new collection The Air Year that seems to sum up the spirit of Christmas 2020. Wherever this podcast finds you in the world, Merry Christmas from us all. When the dark comes rising, six shall turn it back...
The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski
The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953) is a terrifying short novel by the writer, broadcaster and lexicographer Marghanita Laski. Joining Andy and John is the novelist Eley Williams, author of the awarding winning Attrib. and Other Stories and this year’s wonderful novel of mendacious lexicography, The Liar’s Dictionary. The episode also features Andy’s report back from the summit of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and John excavates an old Puffin anthology called Authors’ Choice which contains ‘The Tower’ (1955), another deeply unsettling story by Marghanita Laski story, chosen and introduced by Alan Garner.
The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans & Ronald Searle
The Compleet Molesworth (1958) by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle is the beloved book we're celebrating in this special fifth birthday episode of Backlisted cheers cheers. Joining John and Andy to discuss some of the funniest and most influential fictional creations of the 20th century - Nigel Molesworth, Basil Fotherington-Thomas ect ect ect - are satirical cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson and the novelist Lissa Evans, who as any fule kno was our guest on the very first episode of Backlisted in 2015. Also in this episode John contemplates The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness by Patrick Wright and Andy is enchanted by Piranesi, Susanna Clarke's long-delayed second novel, her first being the bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius by Terrance Dicks
Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius (1977) by Terrance Dicks is the much-loved book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss the life and career of a hugely influential and prolific author - and the history of the Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories, which between them are estimated to have sold over 13m copies - are two writers who are both enthusiastic fans and bona fide experts: broadcaster Matthew Sweet and returning guest Una McCormack. We also take a look at The Gifts of Reading, the recently-published anthology to which Andy has contributed a memoir (on Terrance Dicks), alongside new essays from Philip Pullman, Robert Macfarlane, Candice Carty-Williams, S.F. Said and more, proceeds from which go to the international literacy charity Room To Read.
It's our Hallowe'en special ! For this year’s Hallowe’en episode our subject is the Old English poem, Beowulf, composed somewhere in England more than a thousand years ago. The atmospheric tale of supernatural monsters and human heroes has inspired scores of translations over the centuries and we will discuss several, including versions by Seamus Heaney, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Morpurgo and the powerful new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley (the 2007 computer-animated film adaptation by Robert Zemeckis and Neil Gaiman also makes an appearance). Andy and John are joined by regular Backlisted Hallowe’en guest Andrew Male, the senior associate editor of MOJO magazine, and Dr Laura Varnam, who first appeared on our last Hallowe’en episode to discuss Daphne Du Maurier’s collection, The Breaking Point. As well as being a Du Maurier expert, Laura is also the Lecturer in Old and Middle English Literature at University College, Oxford and teaches Beowulf to undergraduates. Before that, to put everyone in a suitably spooky mood, we all discuss stories taken from Robert Shearman’s remarkable experiment in storytelling, We All Hear Stories in the Dark.
Silence by Shūsaku Endō
Silence (1966) is Shūsaku Endō’s masterpiece, a novel set in 17th Japan, following two Portuguese Jesuits posted there to search for their former teacher, who is feared to have abandoned his faith. Joining John and Andy to discuss this intense and powerful exploration of religious belief and its limits is the novelist Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent, Melmoth and, most recently, Essex Girls. Also in this episode John enjoys The Appointment, a mordantly funny debut novel by literary agent, Katharina Volckmer and Andy wallows in the profound comedic achievement that is From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast.
The Odd Women By George Gissing
George Gissing's The Odd Women (1893) is the groundbreaking book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss this fascinating, proto-feminist novel - and the incident-packed life of its prolific author - are novelist and biographer Janet Todd and the professor of Victorian literature at the University of Durham, Simon James. Also in this episode Andy has been reading The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping by Samantha Harvey; and John enjoys A Musical Offering, a suite of stories about music by the Argentine writer Luis Sagasti.
Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola
Thérèse Raquin (1868), the third novel by French writer Émile Zola, is the book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss the sensational and still shocking founding text of Naturalism are the novelists Rachel Joyce and Andrew O'Hagan. Also in this episode John has been reading Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy, while Andy takes a tour of the National Portrait Gallery's cancelled Cecil Beaton exhibition with Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things by Robin Muir.
I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Dĕd
I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Dĕd, translated by Ranjit Hoskote, is the subject of this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss this modern rendering of the poetry (or 'vakhs') of the 14th-century Kashmiri saint and mystic poet Lal Dĕd (Mother Lalla), also known as Lalla or Lalleshwari, is the writer, dancer and poet Tishani Doshi. In addition John has been reading Hurricane Season, the acclaimed novel by the Mexican author Fernanda Melchor, while Andy discusses Summer by Ali Smith, the final instalment of her seasonal quartet.
Summer Reading 2020
It's a summer reading episode of Backlisted. We are showcasing books John, Andy and the show's producer Nicky have been reading during lockdown. These include A Helping Hand by Celia Dale; A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid; A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory; The Anthill by Julianne Pachico; That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu; The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas; and English Climate: Wartime Stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner. This episode features both newly recorded material and also excerpts from Locklisted, the bonus podcast available exclusively to our Patreon supporters. Please visit patreon.com/backlisted for further details.
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) is the groundbreaking book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to discuss this influential study of philosophy, psychology and faith - and the life and beliefs of its author, whose younger brother was the novelist Henry James - is John Williams, daily books editor and a staff writer at the New York Times.
How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher
How to Cook a Wolf (1942) by the inimitable M.F.K. Fisher is the book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to heed this call to culinary arms, written at a time of national crisis and thus exceptionally relevant to 2020, are journalist and food writer Felicity Cloake and author and adventurer Dan Richards. Also in this episode John has been delving into the backlist of Booker-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo with The Emperor's Babe (2001), while Andy enjoys Barry England's existential thriller Figures in a Landscape, shortlisted for the very first Booker Prize in 1969.
The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
The Diary of a Nobody (1892) by George and Weedon Grossmith is the book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to celebrate this touching and funny classic of suburban manners, first published in 1892 and never out of print since, are writer and critic Laura Cumming and novelist and Grossmith expert E.O. Higgins. Also in this episode Andy has been on an imaginary pub crawl round The Local by Maurice Gorham and Edward Ardizzone, while John has been enjoying Percival Everett's 2009 novel I Am Not Sidney Poitier, newly published in the UK by Influx Press.
The Inheritors by William Golding
William Golding's second novel The Inheritors (1955) is the book featured in this episode of Backlisted. Joining John and Andy to explore this intense, visionary account of the fall of Neanderthal man, published just a year after Lord of the Flies, are two returning Backlisted guests, SF novelist Una McCormack and writer and critic Andrew Male. Also in this episode Andy has been reading Square Haunting by Francesca Wade, while John talks about Staying Human, a forthcoming poetry anthology from Bloodaxe Books.