Episode #8: "Take the Big Swing"
with Esmé Weijun Wang and Brandon Taylor 

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On this episode, we're excited to bring you Esmé Weijun Wang in conversation with Brandon Taylor.

 

We're excited to bring you Esmé Weijun Wang, New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias and the novel The Border of Paradise, which was called a Best Book of 2016, by NPR. Esme is in conversation with Brandon Taylor, author of the national bestseller Filthy Animals, which won the 2022 Story Prize and was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and his first novel, Real Life, which was a finalist for the 2020 Booker Prize and was named a New York Times Notable Book.

Don't miss out, Esmé's new nonfiction writing school, The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy, is open for registration through May 8. You can learn more about it at www.unexpectedshapeacademy.com.

 

In a heart-warming reunion, these two friends detail how their shared passion for film photography helps their writing, why they miss the early days of Twitter and what surprises are in store for their editor as they work on their latest novels. Prepare to be surprised, as well. 

Read Along!

The Collected Schizophrenias

An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core.

 

Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.

Filthy Animals

A group portrait of young adults enmeshed in desire and violence, a hotly charged, deeply satisfying new work of fiction from the author of Booker Prize finalist Real Life.

In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, set among young creatives in the American Midwest, a young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates a series of sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. In other stories, a young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family; menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night; a little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink; and couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.

Psychologically taut and quietly devastating, Filthy Animals is a tender portrait of the fierce longing for intimacy, the lingering presence of pain, and the desire for love in a world that seems, more often than not, to withhold it.

We are proudly supported by:

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Desert Island Bookshelf

This episode's Independent Bookseller shout-out goes to:

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The Book Club

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