The 92 Street Y in New York has just launched an amazing online resource, 92Y On Demand, with recordings from their massive catalog of some of the interviews and performances that have occurred there going back to 1949. Some of the many speakers include Kurt Vonnegut, Chinua Achebe, Sherman Alexie and Sapphire, Dylan Thomas, Maria Bamford, Lou Reed, Dan Savage, Junot Díaz and Jamacica Kincaid, Maurice Sendak, Ruth Reichl with Ann Patchett, David Rakoff, and Leonard Lopate, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Kurt Vonnegut went to Biafra shortly before its fall in 1970 (Biafra previously). This is what he had to say about it.
How Things Fell Apart, By Chinua Achebe - 'In an excerpt from his long-awaited memoir, the inventor of the post-colonial African novel in English discusses his origins as a writer and the seeds of revolt against the British Empire.'
I can say that my whole artistic career was probably sparked by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. I still had access to a number of relatives who had not converted to Christianity and were called heathens by the new converts. When my parents were not watching I would often sneak off in the evenings to visit some of these relatives.[more inside]
Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
BBC World Service has over 500 audio documentaries you can download. The subject matter is incredibly wide ranging, for example, internet cafés, the influence of Islamic art on William Morris, South African female AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane, Yiddish, the importance of cows, novelist Chinua Achebe, financial risk management, Obama as an intellectual, the physical and emotional effects of a car crash and many, many more. If the quantity and variety are overwhelming, you can subscribe to a podcast, which delivers a new documentary to you every single day.
Many Americans' understanding of the idea of reparations for African slavery in the U.S. stems from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's field order that slaves made refugees by his march through the South be given parcels of Charleston's former sea island plantations and one of a surplus of Army mules. [more inside]
The Atlantic Monthly has helpfully indexed literary interviews from its archives. These include, among others, Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe, Dennis Lehane, Zadie Smith, Charles Simic, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sontag and John Irving.
86 the Stone Age. And don’t say Primitive or Tribal on the BBC. It might be OK to say “changed little since the Stone Age.” Or maybe Stone Age is a fine euphemism for uncivilized. Perhaps the west needs more than 30 years to rethink it’s own tribal superstitions.