BBC Bookclub


James Naughtie and readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best known novels. Authors include: Douglas Adams, Alan Bennett, Alice Sebold and Maya Angelou.
English United Kingdom Arts · TV & Film
50 Episodes
1 – 20

Nadifa Mohamed: The Fortune Men

Nadifa Mohamed joins James Naughtie and readers to talk about her award-winning novel The Fortune Men. Set in Cardiff in the 1950s, the novel is based on the real-life trial of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali seaman accused of murder. It's a powerful, moving read and a dazzling portrait of a…
5 Mar 28 min

Cal Flyn: Islands of Abandonment

James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to Cal Flyn about her acclaimed book, Islands of Abandonment, an exploration of places which have been reclaimed by nature. She talks about her travels to Cyprus, the Orkney Islands, First World War battlefields in France, and beyond, chronicling the fightback that…
5 Feb 27 min

Ross King: Brunelleschi's Dome

Historian Ross King answers listener questions about his book Brunelleschi's Dome. An incredible story of one man's determination to build an apparently impossible structure, it's a tale of ingenuity, artistic rivalries, and single-minded obsession. Although building had started on Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore in the late thirteenth century, it…
1 Jan 27 min

AJ Pearce: Dear Mrs Bird

James Naughtie is joined by writer A J Pearce and a group of listeners, as she answers their questions about her bestselling novel Dear Mrs Bird. Set in London in the 1940s, it’s the story of Emmy who has ambitions to be an intrepid war reporter, but instead finds herself…
4 Dec 2022 27 min

Juan Gabriel Vasquez: The Sound of Things Falling

Juan Gabriel Vasquez answers audience questions about The Sound of Things Falling. Set in Colombia, the novel examines the personal and private impact of the drug wars that ravaged the country during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It's the story of a strange friendship between two men, Antonio and Ricardo,…
6 Nov 2022 28 min

Curtis Sittenfeld: American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld answers listener questions about American Wife, a novel which follows Alice Lindgren's path from school librarian to First Lady, and is based on the life of former First Lady Laura Bush. Our next recording is at Broadcasting House in London on 13th October 2022. Juan Gabriel Vasquez will…
2 Oct 2022 27 min

Hilary Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies

In a special programme first broadcast in 2013, Hilary Mantel discusses Bring Up the Bodies, her second Man Booker Prize-winning novel with James Naughtie and his Bookclub audience. England, 1535. A one-time mercenary, master-politician, lawyer and doting father, Thomas Cromwell has risen from commoner to become King Henry VIII's chief…
26 Sep 2022 27 min

Kathleen Jamie: Selected Poems

Bookclub travels to Edinburgh where Scotland's Makar Kathleen Jamie answers readers questions about her Selected Poems, and her writing life. Many poems here celebrate the natural world; Kathleen Jamie writes about animals and plants with a forensic and empathetic eye, often focussing on unloved and unsung creatures like daisies, spiders…
4 Sep 2022 27 min

Kevin Barry

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, James Naughtie is joined by an in-person audience who are putting their questions to Kevin Barry, about his novel Night Boat To Tangier. It’s a darkly comic, melancholy novel about two gangsters, Maurice and Charlie, waiting in the port of…
7 Aug 2022 27 min

John Preston: The Dig

John Preston talks to a group of readers about his novel The Dig, a fictional take on the excavations at Sutton Hoo. Set in the summer of 1939, with war looming, the novel re-imagines this celebrated discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure, The extraordinary finds attracted the attention of eminent professors and…
3 Jul 2022 27 min

Diana Evans

Diana Evans answers listener questions about Ordinary People, her page-turner of a novel about contemporary black middle class experience in the London of today. An absorbing tale of two couples and their family, the novel documents their struggles with identity, parenthood, sex, grief, ageing, friendship and love. Next month's book:…
5 Jun 2022 27 min

Nick Harkaway

Nick Harkaway answers listener questions about his extraordinary novel Angelmaker. A blend of fantasy, thriller and adventure the novel tells the stories of a young, disillusioned clock maker Joe Spork, former spy, ninety year old Edie Bannister, and the strange events that bring them together. Next month's book: Ordinary People…
1 May 2022 27 min

Karen Joy Fowler

Novelist Karen Joy Fowler joins James Naughtie to answer listener questions about her Booker shortlisted novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, a surprising story about an unusual family, and the lasting impact of an unconventional childhood. Narrator Rosemary looks back fondly on her early years with her sister Fern,…
3 Apr 2022 27 min

Sarah Moss

Sarah Moss joins James Naughtie to answer listener questions about her novel The Tidal Zone - a story of healthcare, parenting, and the echoes of the past. Adam and Emma are parents to 15 year old Miriam and 8 year old Rose. One day, Miriam collapses at school: her heart…
6 Mar 2022 27 min

Stacey Halls

James Naughtie and a group of readers talk to Stacey Halls about her novel The Foundling, set in 18th century London. It's the story of Bess, who gives up her new born baby to the Foundling Hospital. When Bess returns six years later to claim her child, she finds that…
6 Feb 2022 27 min

Abir Mukherjee

James Naughtie and Bookclub readers talk to Abir Mukherjee about A Rising Man, the first in his Wyndham and Bannerjee detective series, set in Calcutta during the time of the Raj. Sam Wyndham is new to the police force and new to India. His sergeant, Bannerjee, offers him invaluable help…
2 Jan 2022 27 min

Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

James Naughtie is joined by bestselling writer Rachel Joyce who is answering listener questions about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. This moving, heartwarming story follows Harold as one day he impulsively sets off on a walk from Devon to Northumberland to visit his long lost friend Queenie; despite having…
5 Dec 2021 27 min

Maja Lunde - The History of Bees

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde is set in three different times and in three different countries - nineteenth century England, present day Ohio and Beijing at the end of the 21st century. Each storyline considers the lot of bees and beekeepers: William is designing a new type of…
7 Nov 2021 28 min

Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr talks to James Naughtie and a group of readers about his novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Set largely in St Malo in the 1940's, It tells the twin stories of Werner and Marie Laure,. They are on opposite…
3 Oct 2021 28 min

Lissa Evans - Old Baggage

Lissa Evans talks to James Naughtie and a group of her readers about her novel Old Baggage. Set in 1928, it tells the story of Matilda Simpkin, who was an activist during the Women’s Suffrage Campaign. Jailed five times, Mattie marched, sang, gave speeches and smashed windows, and nothing since…
5 Sep 2021 30 min
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