For those who may not know, Dame Edna O'Brien is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet, and short story writer. This past week, she was given the PEN/Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award "for breaking down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond." I have always loved her short stories the most and have featured them in this series in the past. This month, let's celebrate and honor her with a roundup of some of these short stories (free to read online.) The themes she often returned to in these stories were of the challenges faced by Irish rural communities, mother-daughter conflicts, girls coming of age (with their "conscious innocence,” as John Mullan calls it), the other woman, and so on.
In this month's installment, let's look at podcasts related to writing. I am a huge fan of literary podcasts (especially the ones from BBC Radio 3 and 4 and, of course, NPR) because I get to listen to conversations with favorite writers from the comfort of my home, at my convenience, and while I'm multi-tasking. The podcasts I am listing below, however, are ones I have stuck with for more than three years or so. I do not listen to every single episode but I do subscribe to their feeds. One thing I will say upfront about these is that they are not as diverse as I would like them to be. To be clear, I do not mean only in terms of racial or ethnic diversity, though that is also a gap, but diversity in terms of gender identity, class, caste, sexuality, disability, etc. I do hope this will improve over time.
The 2016 BASS collection is my all-time favorite edition of the entire series so far. For one, a terrific writer of color who actively advocates for other writers of color has guest-edited it: Junot Diaz. For another, it includes stories from smaller literary venues and not just the traditional establishment names. What is rare for me is that I enjoyed every single story in this particular collection so much (with, perhaps, the exception of one -- see below) that I am unable to even pick my top favorites. So, instead of choosing, I have simply shared ten out of the twenty stories because they are all available free online. Stories by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Ted Chiang, Louise Erdrich, Ben Marcus, John Edgar Wideman, Yuko Sakata, Meron Hadero, Daniel J O'Malley and Karen Russell.