Writers and Company from CBC Radio

CBC Radio


CBC Radio's Writers and Company offers an opportunity to explore in depth the lives, thoughts and works of remarkable writers from around the world. Hosted by Eleanor Wachtel.

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Min Jin Lee on the untold story of Koreans in Japan

1:02:44 | Oct 29th, 2017

Korean American novelist Min Jin Lee talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her second book, "Pachinko," which was recently named a finalist for the National Book Award.

George Saunders on his Man Booker Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo

52:37 | Oct 22nd, 2017

George Saunders has won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, "Lincoln in the Bardo." In April, Saunders discussed the book with Eleanor Wachtel at a sold-out event in Toronto.

Edna O'Brien on fear, dreams and LSD

52:25 | Aug 6th, 2017

Eleanor Wachtel speaks to the author of "The Country Girls" Trilogy and "The Little Red Chairs" about the power of dreams; her homeland, Ireland; and hallucinogens.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on why she can't stay silent

52:16 | Jul 9th, 2017

Nigerian-American author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke to Eleanor in 2009 about her Orange Prize-winning novel "Half of a Yellow Sun", her story collection "The Thing Around Your Neck", and how Nigeria's civil war continues to haunt her life and fic...Show More

How the true story of the 'American Taliban' led to John Wray's new novel, Godsend

57:52 | Apr 14th

In his fifth novel, the award-winning writer explores identity, rebellion and radicalism through the eyes of a teenage woman. Wray talks to Eleanor Wachtel about the 'pure and dangerous' age of adolescence.

William Atkins on the beauty, myths and harsh realities of desert life

55:44 | Apr 7th

The British author spoke to Eleanor Wachtel about the literary allure and mystique of the world's driest, hottest places - as well as the troubling impact of migration, nuclear testing and environmental disaster.

Aatish Taseer on religion, caste and power in modern India

1:00:35 | Mar 31st

The author and journalist talks to Eleanor onstage in Toronto about his Indian-Pakistani heritage, the impact of modernity on India today, and his new book, The Twice-Born, which explores the city of Benares, the spiritual capital of Hinduism.

How John Grisham turned his passion for justice into bestselling legal thrillers

52:46 | Mar 24th

The phenomenally successful American novelist joins Eleanor Wachtel in Toronto to discuss his new novel, The Reckoning, and his dedication to fighting for the wrongly convicted.

To mark St. Patrick's Day, a conversation with Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney

52:50 | Mar 17th

Eleanor Wachtel's 2010 interview with one of Ireland's great poets, Seamus Heaney. He discusses and reads poems from Human Chain, the last collection published before his death in 2013.

Nora Krug asks tough questions about her German family's wartime past

1:01:14 | Mar 8th

The German-American graphic artist talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her visual memoir, Belonging, an unflinching investigation into her family's involvement in the Second World War.

Sarah Moss on Brexit, borders and the ghosts of England's Iron Age

53:03 | Mar 3rd

In her new novel, Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss connects ancient Britons of the Iron Age to the foundation myths of the Brexit crisis. She talks to Eleanor Wachtel about the influence of northern, isolated places on her life and work.

Opera superstar Jessye Norman reflects on political activism and her 50-year career in music

54:32 | Feb 24th

Winner of the $100, 000 Glenn Gould Prize, the legendary soprano reflects on her life, her music and how she used her voice - on and off the stage

Diana Athill: looking back at a remarkable literary life and career

53:59 | Feb 17th

The celebrated editor and memoirist died on Jan. 23, 2019, at the age of 101. Speaking to Eleanor Wachtel in 2001, Athill discusses her memoir Stet, and some of the writers she worked with over her 50-year career, including Norman Mailer, Jean Rhys a...Show More

Vesna Goldsworthy on re-imagining The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina

54:03 | Feb 10th

Inspired by literary classics, the Serbian-British writer engages with life in London through the lens of Eastern European and Russian characters. She talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her latest novel, Monsieur Ka.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez on how Colombia's violent past has shaped his fiction and his life

52:54 | Feb 3rd

The prize-winning author talks to Eleanor Wachtel about growing up in Bogotá during the height of Colombia's drug wars, and his new book, The Shape of the Ruins, which probes real-life political assassinations from his country's turbulent history.

Esther Kinsky on the ebb and flow of memory in River

56:07 | Jan 27th

The German novelist, poet and translator won multiple prizes for her novel River when it was first published in Germany. Now available in English, it's earning wide acclaim for its haunting evocation of landscape and loss.

Ondjaki captures the humour and heartache of life in his hometown, Luanda

52:42 | Jan 20th

The Angolan writer, and one of Africa's most important contemporary writers, talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his latest award-winning book - Transparent City - a portrait of his native Luanda in apocalyptic times.

Nadine Labaki highlights the heroism of children in Beirut in her new film, Capernaum

53:21 | Jan 13th

The Lebanese filmmaker made history last year when she became the first female Arab director to win a major prize in competition at Cannes. Nadine Labaki talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her powerful new film, working with a cast of young nonprofession...Show More

Kiese Laymon bears the weight of a difficult past in his powerful memoir, Heavy

59:01 | Jan 6th

The Mississippi writer talks to Eleanor Wachtel about growing up black in the Deep South, his gambling addiction, and his lifelong struggle with weight and body image.

Patti Smith on the immediacy of photography - and why she prefers Polaroids

53:49 | Dec 30th, 2018

The iconic American musician, writer and photographer talked to Eleanor Wachtel onstage in 2013 to celebrate the launch of her photo exhibit, Camera Solo.

Alain Mabanckou on his profound connection to the Republic of the Congo

53:00 | Dec 23rd, 2018

The celebrated Congolese-French writer joined Eleanor Wachtel onstage at the Vancouver Writers Festival in 2016.

The enduring magic of The Little Prince: with Stacy Schiff, Mark Osborne and Éric Dupont

59:33 | Dec 16th, 2018

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the beloved classic, three longtime fans join Eleanor Wachtel to discuss the book's universal appeal - and how it has touched their lives.

Pat Barker on giving voice to the enslaved women of Homer's Iliad

58:41 | Dec 9th, 2018

The British novelist's new book is a powerful retelling of The Iliad, re-imagined from the point of view of Briseis, the 15-year-old queen who becomes Achilles' captured slave.

Bernardo Bertolucci on the art and poetry of cinema

52:46 | Dec 2nd, 2018

Eleanor Wachtel's 2001 conversation with the Oscar-winning Italian filmmaker, who died on Nov. 26, 2018, at the age of 77.

Susan Orlean on loving libraries - and burning books

55:42 | Nov 25th, 2018

The bestselling American writer talked to Eleanor Wachtel about her new title The Library Book, which tells the story of the devastating fire at the Los Angeles Central Library - and the significance of Orlean's own childhood library.

'My mother was a Communist informant.' András Forgách explores his family's secret past

53:07 | Nov 18th, 2018

The Hungarian writer's new book was inspired by a shocking revelation: Forgách's mother worked as an informant for Hungary's Communist regime, reporting on friends, family and even her own children. He joins Eleanor Wachtel on stage in Toronto.

Elliot Ackerman on the scars that remain once the battle is over

53:01 | Nov 11th, 2018

After serving five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, American author Elliot Ackerman uses fiction to explore the devastating impacts of war. He talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his powerful new novel, Waiting for Eden.

Jeet Thayil on Baudelaire, drug addiction and his provocative novel, Narcopolis

50:58 | Nov 4th, 2018

The prize-winning Indian author spoke with Eleanor Wachtel in 2013 about Mumbai's opium dens, recovering from substance abuse and the beauty of poetry.

Lee Child on Jack Reacher and his larger-than-life crime thriller series

53:02 | Oct 28th, 2018

The bestselling author spoke with Eleanor Wachtel about "Past Tense," the latest book in his phenomenally successful Jack Reacher series.

Laurie Anderson on language, story and losing her archives to Hurricane Sandy

1:02:05 | Oct 21st, 2018

The iconic musician and artist talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her early life; the New York arts scene of the 1970s and '80s; meeting her husband, Lou Reed; and why losing everything in the floods of Hurricane Sandy came as a blessing in disguise.

Poet Terrance Hayes examines race and politics in the age of Trump

58:16 | Oct 14th, 2018

In his powerful new collection, 'American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin,' Hayes responds to the election of Donald Trump and the tense social climate that has emerged in the U.S. The book is a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry...Show More

Amitava Kumar on India, the U.S. and the indelible imprint of the immigrant experience

54:26 | Oct 7th, 2018

The journalist and novelist talked to Eleanor Wachtel about his new book 'Immigrant, Montana' which blends fiction and autobiography in a story about a young Indian man navigating college life in the United States.

Kathryn Harrison on how her grandparents saved her from a broken childhood

52:57 | Sep 30th, 2018

From her painful relationship with her mother, to her sexual affair with her father, Kathryn Harrison's memoirs explore her troubled past with remarkable honesty and insight. Now her new book, On Sunset, tells the story of the unusual, well-travelled...Show More

Michael Winterbottom on the epic journey of his career in film

52:57 | Sep 23rd, 2018

From the Toronto International Film Festival, Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the English director about the literary influences in his work, his attraction to road movies, and the making of his latest film, The Wedding Guest.

Lawrence Osborne on re-imagining Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's iconic sleuth

56:21 | Sep 16th, 2018

The English novelist and journalist talks to Eleanor Wachtel from his home in Bangkok about drawing inspiration from his nomadic lifestyle, and reinventing a literary icon in his new book, 'Only to Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Novel.'

Teju Cole, Madeleine Thien and Dionne Brand on the places and spaces that inspire their writing

58:48 | Sep 9th, 2018

The celebrated writers joined Eleanor Wachtel on stage in Toronto for a discussion about the significance of location in literature.

Zadie Smith on the ups and downs of female friendship in Swing Time

1:03:11 | Sep 2nd, 2018

The award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty discusses friendship and rivalry in her most recent novel, and her lifelong attraction to musical films.

Ruth Ozeki, Chris Abani and Tash Aw on faces and identity

59:52 | Aug 26th, 2018

Three writers were invited to contribute essays to a series called The Face - a look at how our faces do, and don't, reveal who we are. In 2016, they talked to Eleanor Wachtel about the deeply personal experience of writing those pieces.

Roddy Doyle on telling the stories of Dublin's working class - with wit and sensibility

51:19 | Aug 19th, 2018

After winning the Man Booker Prize in 1993 for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, the Irish writer talked to Eleanor Wachtel about tackling the topic of domestic violence in The Woman Who Walked Into Doors.

Marlon James on writing himself into a new life

52:50 | Aug 12th, 2018

Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize in 2015, becoming the first Jamaican ever to receive the award. Here he talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his prize-winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and how writing has allowed him to create a new r...Show More

'I don't believe in God, but I miss him.' Julian Barnes on why he puts his faith in stories

52:42 | Aug 5th, 2018

The celebrated English writer talked to Eleanor Wachtel in 2011, shortly after winning the Man Booker Prize for The Sense of an Ending.

Pat Barker on how her grandfather's war wound inspired her WWI trilogy

53:02 | Jul 29th, 2018

The English novelist talked to Eleanor Wachtel in 1997 about her powerful 'Regeneration' trilogy, which explored the impact of trench warfare on soldiers in World War I. The trilogy's final novel, 'The Ghost Road,' won the 1995 Man Booker Prize.

J. M. Coetzee on language, writing and the pleasure of reading

53:11 | Jul 22nd, 2018

A rare conversation with the South African writer and Nobel Prize laureate. Coetzee talked to Eleanor Wachtel in 2000, soon after winning the Man Booker Prize for a second time, for his novel Disgrace.

Aravind Adiga paints a relentlessly bleak, yet surprisingly comic picture of modern India

52:22 | Jul 15th, 2018

The Indian novelist stunned the literary world in 2008 when he won the Man Booker Prize for his very first novel, The White Tiger - a fiercely irreverent take on class and social injustice in modern India.

Peter Carey reimagines the life and death of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly

53:07 | Jul 8th, 2018

Australian novelist Peter Carey spoke with Eleanor Wachtel in 2001 about his second Man Booker Prize-winning novel, True History of the Kelly Gang.

Hilary Mantel vies for Golden Man Booker Award with Tudor novel, Wolf Hall

53:44 | Jul 1st, 2018

The two-time Booker winner talked to Eleanor in 2012 about her novels exploring the reign of Henry VIII. Wolf Hall is shortlisted for the special 50th anniversary Golden Man Booker Award, to be announced July 8, 2018.

In Warlight, Michael Ondaatje explores family secrets and betrayal

54:08 | Jun 24th, 2018

The Canadian literary icon joined Eleanor Wachtel onstage at the Rialto Theatre in Montreal. His new novel, Warlight, is being hailed as a masterpiece.

Danzy Senna's darkly comic take on racial identity

55:30 | Jun 17th, 2018

The American novelist draws on her experience growing up in an interracial family in her edgy, prize-winning fiction. In her latest novel, New People, she writes with insight and subversive humour about what it means to be half-black and half-white.

Jonas Hassen Khemiri crosses borders through words and imagination

53:38 | Jun 10th, 2018

The Swedish novelist and playwright has received international acclaim for his innovative, politically charged work. Khemiri spoke with Eleanor Wachtel about his latest novel, "Everything I Don't Remember," onstage at the Blue Metropolis Literary Fes...Show More

The incomparable Philip Roth: looking back on his life in fiction

55:15 | Jun 3rd, 2018

The acclaimed American author of novels such as Portnoy's Complaint and The Plot Against America died on May 22, 2018. He spoke with Eleanor Wachtel in 2009 at his apartment in New York City.

Rachel Kushner examines California's prison system in her new novel, The Mars Room

55:45 | May 27th, 2018

One of the most dynamic American novelists writing today, Rachel Kushner has a new novel, The Mars Room, which centres on a former stripper and single mother serving two life sentences in a California prison.

Looking back at Tom Wolfe, groundbreaking author and journalist

54:30 | May 20th, 2018

Regarded as a pioneer of New Journalism, the American author, journalist and essayist died on May 14 at the age of 88. He spoke with Eleanor Wachtel in 2005 about his novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons.

From the Norse sagas to Björk — Hallgrímur Helgason on Iceland's explosion of culture

54:43 | May 13th, 2018

Eleanor Wachtel talks to the prize-winning painter and novelist about Iceland's transformation from a forgotten nation to a booming cultural hub. Helgason's latest book, Woman at 1,000 Degrees, is an international bestseller.

From Hans Christian Andersen to hygge — Dorthe Nors on the Danish psyche

52:46 | May 6th, 2018

Eleanor Wachtel travels to Copenhagen to talk to prominent Danish writer Dorthe Nors. The author's latest novel, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, is about a woman dealing with family, loneliness and learning how to drive.

Karl Ove Knausgaard: after My Struggle, a new outlook on the world

55:57 | Apr 29th, 2018

The Norwegian author of the epic memoir My Struggle talks to Eleanor Wachtel about a new series, The Seasons Quartet, which takes the form of a letter to his daughter.

The haunting world of Nordic noir, with Hans Rosenfeldt

57:42 | Apr 22nd, 2018

Eleanor talks to the Swedish screenwriter, novelist and creator of the hit show The Bridge, in part one of a new series, Darkness and Light: The Nordic Imagination.

Philippe Sands maps the intersection of unspeakable crime and modern justice in East West Street

59:29 | Apr 15th, 2018

The English writer and lawyer talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his groundbreaking book, East West Street, which explores the origins of human rights law at the Nuremberg Trials... and follows Sands on a journey to uncover the truth about his own family...Show More

How Jane Austen inspired Amma Asante's films about race and class in Britain

52:39 | Apr 8th, 2018

The award-winning British filmmaker talks to Eleanor Wachtel about breaking down barriers in the film industry, and why she turns to period romance to explore modern concerns relating to race and politics.

James Ivory on his storied career and Oscar-winning screenplay

53:00 | Apr 1st, 2018

At the age of 89, the writer and director just won his first Academy Award for his screenplay for the hit movie, Call Me by Your Name. While in Toronto for TIFF's Books on Film series, James Ivory spoke to Eleanor Wachtel about some of his most famou...Show More

‘He was my best teacher.’ Liv Ullmann on the legendary Ingmar Bergman

52:33 | Mar 25th, 2018

From "Persona" to "Scenes from a Marriage," Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann captivated audiences in the films of Ingmar Bergman. But since the early '90s, she's found her true calling as a director. In 2014, Ullmann spoke to Eleanor Wachtel about her l...Show More

Mary Gaitskill: from bad behaviour to surprising tenderness

1:00:13 | Mar 18th, 2018

Eleanor Wachtel speaks to literature's "bad girl," American writer Mary Gaitskill. In a book of essays, Gaitskill explores her unexpected bond with three inner-city children, her complicated relationship with her dying father, and the profound grief ...Show More

With 'Bunk,' Kevin Young reminds us there's nothing new about fake news

58:13 | Mar 12th, 2018

In his new book, the African American poet and essayist traces the history of the hoax — from P. T. Barnum to made-up memoirs — making the case that hoaxes are embedded in race.

Ali Smith on the circular movement of time — in nature, life and art

51:58 | Mar 4th, 2018

Eleanor talks to the award-winning Scottish writer about her recent books, "Autumn" and "Winter," which marked the launch of a new series inspired by the seasons.

BONUS: James McBride on the complicated history of race in the United States

52:44 | Feb 25th, 2018

The surprise winner of the 2013 American National Book Award talked to Eleanor Wachtel about his prize-winning book, "The Good Lord Bird," which centres on the controversial abolitionist John Brown; and about the life lessons he learned from his Poli...Show More

Daniel Mendelsohn on his journey with his father through Homer's Odyssey

52:49 | Feb 25th, 2018

Eleanor talks to the American writer and classicist about his recent memoir, "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic." The book explores Mendelsohn's relationship with his late father, and the "Odyssey Cruise" they took together, retracing the jour...Show More

Edna O'Brien: from Ireland's outcast to celebrated icon

53:14 | Feb 18th, 2018

Her books were burned and banned, but Edna O'Brien's writing opened up a new chapter in modern Irish literature. Eleanor Wachtel talks to the 2018 winner of the PEN/Nabokov award about her controversial first novel, her mother, and breaking down "soc...Show More

Kapka Kassabova on the untold stories of Bulgaria's haunted borderland

58:55 | Feb 11th, 2018

Poet, travel writer and memoirist Kapka Kassabova talks to Eleanor Wachtel about returning to the forbidden borders of her communist childhood — between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece — and engaging with the stories of the land and its people. Her book,...Show More

Sebastián Lelio on the fantastic woman at the heart of his Oscar-nominated film

52:54 | Feb 4th, 2018

The Chilean director of the hit film 'Gloria' and the Oscar-nominated 'A Fantastic Woman' talks to Eleanor Wachtel about casting transgender actor Daniela Vega, and why he's attracted to stories about the complex lives of women.

Ursula K. Le Guin explored the nature of reality through her imaginative fiction

53:40 | Jan 28th, 2018

From the Writers & Company archives, Eleanor Wachtel speaks to celebrated fantasy and science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin, who died on January 22 at the age of 88. The conversation is followed by a reading from Le Guin's short story collection, ...Show More

Xiaolu Guo traces her life's unlikely journey from East to West

52:51 | Jan 21st, 2018

In her new memoir, Nine Continents, Chinese writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo takes an unsentimental look at her family and country's history, and how it has shaped her art.

'My grandparents were Nazis.' Novelist Rachel Seiffert mines her family's dark past

54:15 | Jan 14th, 2018

The Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of "The Dark Room" and "A Boy in Winter" talks to Eleanor Wachtel about how her German family's history informs her powerful fiction.

Witi Ihimaera and Ali Cobby Eckermann on the power of Indigenous storytelling

58:26 | Jan 7th, 2018

Maori novelist Witi Ihimaera (The Whale Rider) and Australian Aboriginal poet Ali Cobby Eckermann (Ruby Moonlight) discuss how stories can bring us closer to reconciliation, and what it's like to navigate between two cultures.

Julian Barnes on love, loss and Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich

53:10 | Dec 31st, 2017

In this intimate, onstage conversation from 2016, British writer Julian Barnes talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his recent novel, The Noise of Time, and how writing has helped him cope with the death of his wife.

Shirley Hazzard: looking back on her life of great adventure

54:10 | Dec 24th, 2017

The celebrated writer, who died last year, led an extraordinary life that took her around the world working for British Intelligence and the U.N. She spoke to Eleanor in 2001, shortly before winning the National Book Award for her novel, The Great Fi...Show More

Edwidge Danticat on the powerful influence of her Haitian childhood

52:56 | Dec 17th, 2017

The Haitian-American writer has won the 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, also known as the 'American Nobel.' In this conversation from 2013, Danticat talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her novel, Claire of the Sea Light.

From Zanzibar to England, Abdulrazak Gurnah explores the pain of dislocation

52:49 | Dec 10th, 2017

Abdulrazak Gurnah writes about immigrant life, dislocation, power and shame. He talks to Eleanor about his new book, Gravel Heart — a powerful story of a young man's experience as an immigrant to England, which reflects elements of Gurnah's own life.

Richard Holmes reflects on his life as a 'Romantic biographer'

52:44 | Dec 3rd, 2017

One of Britain's leading literary biographers, Holmes writes passionately about Romantic era greats — such as Shelley, Coleridge, Keats and Blake. He talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his new book, This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer...Show More

Colm Tóibín on redrawing Greek tragedy for modern times

52:27 | Nov 26th, 2017

Colm Tóibín talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his new novel, House of Names — a troubling tale of family, murder and vengeance that draws from Greek myth. They spoke onstage at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Novelist Anuradha Roy explores beauty, violence and power in modern India

53:19 | Nov 19th, 2017

Anuradha Roy's elegant, provocative fiction looks at life in India from unusual angles. Eleanor spoke to Roy about her latest book, "Sleeping on Jupiter," which won the DSC South Asia Prize for Fiction.

Remembering Leonard Cohen: biographer Sylvie Simmons on Montreal's beloved poet

59:42 | Nov 12th, 2017

Eleanor speaks to Sylvie Simmons, author of the bestselling biography "I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen," about the man behind the music, poetry and fiction — his early influences, struggles with depression, spiritual explorations, and more.

David Bellos on why 'Les Misérables' still resonates today

53:18 | Nov 5th, 2017

Eleanor talks to biographer and translator David Bellos about 19th-century French writer, Victor Hugo, and the dramatic history behind Hugo's masterpiece, Les Misérables — the most frequently adapted novel of all time.

Spanish novelist Javier Marías on secrets and betrayal — in politics and fiction

52:51 | Oct 15th, 2017

Spain's most celebrated contemporary writer talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his country's dark past, his own family history, and his new novel that draws on both, "Thus Bad Begins."

Nobel Prize for Literature winner Kazuo Ishiguro on his novels of 'great emotional force'

53:24 | Oct 8th, 2017

Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the Japanese-British author and recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature about his novels "The Buried Giant" and "Never Let Me Go."

Daniel Mendelsohn on his journey with his father through Homer’s Odyssey

52:48 | Oct 1st, 2017

In his memoir "An Odyssey," American writer and critic Daniel Mendelsohn gives an account of what happened when his elderly father sat in on his university seminar on Homer’s epic poem.

Haifaa Al Mansour on Mary Shelley, the woman behind Frankenstein

52:59 | Sep 24th, 2017

In her new film "Mary Shelley," Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour explores the passion and pain that led the teenage author to write her groundbreaking novel, "Frankenstein." Eleanor spoke to Al Mansour at the Toronto International Film Festi...Show More

Kei Miller maps the intersections of race, class and privilege in Jamaica

57:44 | Sep 17th, 2017

The Jamaican poet, novelist and essayist spoke to Eleanor Wachtel about his award-winning collection "The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion," and his imaginative new novel, "Augustown."

John le Carré on his legacy as a spy-turned-novelist

1:07:46 | Sep 10th, 2017

The master of the political thriller talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his storied career as both a spy and a writer, and discusses his new book, "A Legacy of Spies," which sees the return of his most iconic character, George Smiley.

Philip Roth on his life in fiction

53:21 | Sep 3rd, 2017

From "Goodbye, Columbus" to "The Plot Against America," the celebrated novelist reflects on his literary identities, fame, family, controversy and growing old in this conversation with Eleanor Wachtel from 2009.

Cartoonist Lynda Barry on reclaiming the art of child's play

52:19 | Aug 27th, 2017

In this conversation from 2009, Eleanor talks to American cartoonist Lynda Barry about her Filipino heritage, her friendship with Matt Groening, and her darkly funny and moving work, which revolves around the lives of children.

Graphic novelist Reinhard Kleist on Germany's refugees, then and now

50:47 | Aug 20th, 2017

Eleanor speaks to the award-winning German comic book artist about his wide-ranging subjects — from Johnny Cash; to a man who escaped Auschwitz by boxing; to Samia Yusuf Omar, a Somalian Olympic runner who drowned trying to reach Europe.

Margarethe von Trotta on telling the story of Germany through the eyes of women

1:02:49 | Aug 13th, 2017

Eleanor spoke with revered German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta as part of our 2016 special series, "At the Centre of Europe: A Changing Germany".

Tracy K. Smith on life, death, poetry and outer space

55:23 | Jul 30th, 2017

In this conversation from 2016, Eleanor talks to the new Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith. Her last collection, "Life on Mars", won a Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir, "Ordinary Light", explores race, faith and her relationship with her m...Show More

Patricia Grace on telling the stories of New Zealand's Indigenous people

52:20 | Jul 23rd, 2017

In this conversation from 2003, Eleanor talks to Patricia Grace — one of New Zealand's most celebrated Maori writers.

Edward Said's ideas about power and identity still resonate today

50:58 | Jul 16th, 2017

Eleanor spoke with Edward Said, the eminent literary and cultural critic, in 1993. The author of "Orientalism" and "Culture and Imperialism" discusses Western attitudes toward the East, and explores the connection between politics and literature.

How Canada made Michael Ondaatje a writer

52:27 | Jul 2nd, 2017

In this conversation from 1998, Eleanor talks to Canadian literary master Michael Ondaatje - author of "The English Patient" - about "Handwriting," a collection of poems about loss, landscape and the power of history in Sri Lanka.

Arundhati Roy on love, war and the fragility of happiness

57:23 | Jun 25th, 2017

Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy joins Eleanor to discuss "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness", the long-awaited second novel from the author of the Booker Prize winner, "The God of Small Things".

Sherman Alexie on his bittersweet relationship with his mother

56:53 | Jun 18th, 2017

Eleanor speaks with Native American writer Sherman Alexie about his memoir, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." The book focuses on his complicated relationship with his mother, and his difficult upbringing on a Spokane reservation in Washington sta...Show More

Naturalist Charles Foster says living like a badger helped him understand humans

51:52 | Jun 11th, 2017

Eleanor speaks with English writer, professor, veterinarian and barrister, Charles Foster. His latest book, "Being a Beast", is a quest to see the world through the senses of five different animal species.

British novelist Rose Tremain on love, heroism and the Swiss soul

51:38 | Jun 4th, 2017

Eleanor speaks with Orange Prize-winning author Rose Tremain about her latest novel, "The Gustav Sonata" — an exploration of political and personal neutrality set in Switzerland before and after the Second World War.

Novelist Tayeb Salih on culture and conflict in the Sudan

51:28 | May 28th, 2017

From 2002, Eleanor's conversation with the late Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, one of the foremost writers of the Arab world. His 1967 novel "Season of Migration to the North" has been called the most important Arabic novel of the 20th Century.

Helen Macdonald on grief, dreams and birds of prey

51:32 | May 21st, 2017

Eleanor speaks with England's Helen Macdonald about her best-selling memoir, "H is for Hawk". In this interview from 2015, Macdonald discusses how she dealt with her father's sudden death by training a goshawk — the fiercest, wildest bird of prey.

Voice and identity in America: Francisco Goldman, Imbolo Mbue and David Treuer

52:10 | May 14th, 2017

Francisco Goldman, Imbolo Mbue and David Treuer reflect on cultural collision in the United States. Eleanor sat down with the three prize-winning writers on stage at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal.

Anita Desai - winner of the 2017 Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival's Grand Prix

58:09 | May 7th, 2017

In front of a live audience in Montreal, at the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, Eleanor speaks with the festival's Grand Prix winner, Anita Desai, about her life and the award-winning books she's written over more than fifty years.

Paula Fox on tackling the book of her own life

52:15 | Apr 30th, 2017

A look back at Eleanor's conversation with American novelist and children's book author Paula Fox from 2002. Paula Fox died last month at age 93. In this interview, she discusses her memoir, "Borrowed Finery".

George Saunders on love, war, and the American presidency

53:29 | Apr 23rd, 2017

Eleanor sits down with American writer George Saunders onstage at the Toronto Reference Library. The master of the short story talks about writing his first novel, "Lincoln in the Bardo", which unfolds in a graveyard over a single night in 1862.

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott on voice, place, and finding home

52:12 | Apr 16th, 2017

Eleanor Wachtel's 2006 conversation with the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, who died in March at the age of 87. Walcott was known for poetry that bridged cultures and traditions, making links between his Caribbean and European heritage.

Robert Lepage revisits his childhood during Quebec's cultural revolution

53:41 | Apr 9th, 2017

Eleanor speaks with Canadian theatre visionary, Robert Lepage. World-renowned for his highly innovative, multimedia productions, his latest work, "887", explores childhood memories in a divided Quebec.

French-Syrian cartoonist Riad Sattouf captures his childhood in full colour

51:49 | Apr 2nd, 2017

Eleanor speaks with the award-winning comic artist about growing up in Syria, Libya and France, and his bestselling graphic memoir, "The Arab of the Future."

Elif Batuman on her love affair with Russian literature

56:51 | Mar 26th, 2017

Eleanor talks to Turkish-American writer Elif Batuman about her infatuation with Russian literature, and her debut novel, "The Idiot", a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about language and romance in the year 1995.

Joan Didion on the evolving nature of grief

52:30 | Mar 19th, 2017

In this conversation from 2005, legendary American novelist and journalist Joan Didion talks to Eleanor about the deaths of both her husband and daughter, and about writing her heartbreaking memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking."

Hari Kunzru on racism, politics, and the blues

52:14 | Mar 12th, 2017

Eleanor speaks with British-Indian novelist and journalist, Hari Kunzru. His latest book, "White Tears", addresses the dark history of exploitation and greed in American blues music.

Filmmaker Olivier Assayas on ghosts, real and imagined

52:31 | Mar 5th, 2017

Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the French filmmaker about his roots, his obsessions, and his new film "Personal Shopper", starring Kristen Stewart.

Yiyun Li on the Tiananmen Square massacre and her novel Kinder Than Solitude

53:39 | Feb 26th, 2017

Eleanor talks with Chinese-American author Yiyun Li about her 2014 novel Kinder Than Solitude, set in the shadow of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and inspired by real life events.