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Chang-rae Lee and Anne Anlin Cheng

Feb 3, 2022

On Being Unmoored

Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng

New Books Network 2022

Season three of Novel Dialogue launches in partnership with Public Books and introduces some fresh new voices into the mix. John and Aarthi welcome Chris Holmes, Emily Hyde, Tara Menon, and Sarah Wasserman into the ND pod as guest hosts. And have they brought a series of scintillating conversations with them! In our series premiere, Sarah sits down with acclaimed novelist Chang-rae Lee and Anne Anlin Cheng, renowned scholar of American literature and visual culture at Princeton.

The conversation goes small and goes big: from the shortest short story to the totalizing effects of capitalism. Chang-rae is no stranger to such shifting scales: his novels sweep through large stretches of time and space, but their attention to detail and meticulous prose makes for an intimate reading experience. Chang-rae’s latest novel, My Year Abroad, fuels a discussion about how we can form meaningful bonds in current conditions (hint: it’s often around a table) and about the specters of other, better worlds that haunt Chang-rae’s fictions. He discusses his relationship to his own work and the benefits of taking an “orbital view” on his writing. Chang-rae also offers a tantalizing glimpse into his current project, a semi-autobiographical novel about Korean-American immigrants in 1970s New York. In response to a brand new signature question for the podcast this season, Chang-rae reveals the talent he wishes he could suddenly have... one that Anne already possesses!

Mentioned in this Episode

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.


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Also Hosted By Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz