French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani joins Harriett Gilbert in the Radio Theatre at the BBC and readers from around the world to talk about her novel Lullaby, the devastating story of a nanny, Louise, who kills two children in her care.
The book – an international bestseller – opens with this horrific crime then travels back in time to discover why an apparently perfect nanny turned into a cold blooded murderer. Through the lives of Louise and her employers, Slimani explores Paris’s economy and society, depicting a city where poverty and wealth live side by side and people know little about one another.
The third programme in World Book Club’s year celebrating international women’s writing, this novel raises urgent questions about women’s lives and maternal instincts, and what is expected of them.
(Photo: Leïla Slimani. Photo credit: Catherine Hélie/Editions Gallimard.)
Petina Gappah - The Book of Memory
Harriett Gilbert is joined by Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah for this month’s edition of World Book Club, continuing 2020’s celebration of women’s writing.
Petina will be answering questions from readers around the world about her novel The Book Of Memory. It’s narrated by Memory, an albino woman convicted of murdering her wealthy white guardian, who took her away from life in the townships when she was a child. In this testimony, written from her prison cell, Memory looks back over her life and confronts the events that led to this conviction.
(Photo: Petina Gappah. Credit: Marina Cavazza)
Naomi Alderman - The Power
Naomi Alderman talks about her extraordinary novel The Power which imagines that women suddenly develop an electrifying strength, putting them firmly in control - of everything. The new order spreads around the globe, liberating women from enslavement and subjugation but also freeing their darker ambitions. It’s a pacey read, teeming with characters and plot lines. Alderman focusses on Roxy, the teenage daughter of a London crime lord; Tunde a Nigerian journalist chasing the story around the globe, and in America Ali, a young orphan who becomes a spiritual leader and Margot, an ambitious politician who sees the opportunities the new world order offers her.
In this edition of World Book Club, Naomi Alderman talks about the inequalities which inspired her story and her hopes for the future.
(Photo credit: Justine Stoddard.)
Jenny Erpenbeck - Visitation
This month World Book Club is in Germany marking the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall with a programme from the St George’s Bookshop in the heart of the capital. We’re speaking with one of the country’s greatest living writers Jenny Erpenbeck about her highly acclaimed novel, Visitation.
Visitation’s central character is a beguiling house on the forested banks of a lake in Brandenburg near Berlin, which is inhabited by various occupants, one dislodging the next over the course of a turbulent century of upheaval and calamity. Encompassing the years from the Weimar Republic, through World War II to the subsequent Soviet-led Communist regime, and finally to reunification and its aftermath, Visitation forms a literary mosaic of the horrors of twentieth century German history filtered through the beauty of one house and the landscape it’s rooted in.
(Image: Jenny Erpenbeck. Credit: Katharina Behling.)
David Nicholls - Us
David Nicholls talks about his internationally successful novel Us.
Almost three decades after their improbable relationship first blossomed in London biochemist Douglas and his attractive artist wife Connie live seemingly happily enough with their moody 17-year-old son, Albie just outside London. Then Connie drops a bombshell: she thinks she wants a divorce.
Devastated but determined to fight to save their marriage, Douglas insists that the family stick to a previously planned Grand Tour of Europe where he secretly hopes to win his wife and son back.
Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest point of view, Us is the bittersweet but often very funny story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learn how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.
(Photo: David Nicholls. Credit: Sophia Spring)