Journeys – both literal and literary – weave through the latest edition of Book Talk, in which I sit down with authors Olivia Lang, Sarah Hall, Pedro Lenz and translator Donal McLaughlin to talk about their latest projects.

Granta Best Young British Novelist Sarah Hall reads a creepy excerpt from her new short story collection, The Beautiful Indifference, and discusses the very human need to fight, and how modern-day living has stripped us of the opportunity to do so. Find out where she got the inspiration for her excerpted story, She Murdered Mortal He, and why she finds it easiest to write short stories on the road.

How does a Swiss German novel wind up being translated to Glaswegian Scots? With a little inspiration from James Kelman and some unique urban landscapes. Ryan discusses Donal McLaughlin‘s translation of Pedro Lenz‘s novel, Naw Much of a Talker, and discovers what’s really important in a good translation (and it’s not necessarily being slavishly faithful to the source!).

Finally, Olivia Lang speaks up about alcoholism as a destructive force in literature, as detailed in her nonfiction book, The Trip to Echo Spring. Detailing the lives of six authors with well-documented relationships with alcohol (Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever, John Berryman, F Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, and Raymond Carver), Lang seeks to pull away the pervasive myth that it was cool for writers to drink a lot. In reality, it was a destructive force for them, as it is for anyone else, that may have cost the world some great literature. Hear one of the crazier anecdotes detailed in the book, and why Lang found the sobering subject matter so interesting.

Podcast contents

0:00-0:47 Introduction
0:47-11:20 Sarah Hall Interview
11:20-24:10 Pedro Lenz and Donal McLaughlin interview
24:10-32:37 Olivia Lang Interview