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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, told through Antonio's eyes. He sets out to investigate his friend's mysterious life, after Ricardo is murdered. It's a novel about memory and storytelling, and about the lasting impact of living in a country ruled by violence and criminality.

Our next guest on Bookclub is A J Pearce answering your questions about her debut Dear Mrs Bird. To take part email

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 talking about his novel, The Sound Of Things Falling. To take part and ask a question, email

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 adviser. He learnt everything he knew from his mentor Cardinal Wolsey, whose place he has taken.

Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her path to Henry's side cleared by Cromwell. But Henry remains without a male heir, and the conflict with the Catholic Church has left England dangerously isolated as France and the Holy Roman Empire manoeuvre for position.

Mantel charts how the King begins to fall in love with the seemingly plain Jane Seymour at her family home of Wolf Hall; how Cromwell must negotiate an increasingly dangerous court as he charms, bullies and manipulates nobility, commoners and foreign powers alike to satisfy Henry, and advance his own ambitions.

Hilary Mantel was the first author to win two Man Booker Prizes with consecutive novels. She discusses Bring Up the Bodies with Jim and her readers at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival in Devon - and gives tantalising insights into the final part of the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light.

Producer : Dymphna Flynn

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 and frogs. In this collection there are also poems about the struggles of motherhood, and memories of her Scottish childhood - her friends, her family, her school days.

This programme was recorded in front of an audience at Greenside Parish Church in Edinburgh .

The next Bookclub recordings are with Curtis Sittenfeld (14/09/22) answering questions about American Wife in a virtual recording, and Juan Gabriel Vasquez (13/10/22) on The Sound of Things Falling , at an in-person event. Contact to take part in either recording.

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 Algeciras, hoping to spot Maurice’s runaway daughter. And as they wait, they reminisce and swap stories.

Our next Bookclub is recording at Greenside Parish Church in Edinburgh on Thursday 25th August at 7pm. Our guest is Kathleen Jamie, Scotland's Makar, talking about her Selected Poems and her writing life. For more details, and to book a place, email

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 national museums but the original discovery was the work of a self taught local archaeologist, Basil Brown. And in The Dig, Basil is given his chance to tell his story, as one of the narrators.

To get in touch with us at Bookclub and take part in any of our recordings, email

Our next guest is Kevin Barry. This will be an in-person event at BBC Broadcasting House on Wednesday 13th July at 7.30pm. Please email us if you would like to come along and ask a question, Kevin will be discussing Night Boat to Tangier.

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: The Dig by John Preston. Email to join the virtual recording or send in a question in advance.

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 by Diana Evans. Email to ask a question.

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, but all is not as it seems.

The novel has an unexpected twist and this programme contains spoilers.

Our next read on Bookclub is Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. Do get in touch if you'd like to take part.

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 briefly stopped beating. She is rushed to hospital. The Tidal Zone considers the impact of this event on Miriam, and all of her family, as they spend time in hospital and then learn to live with what has happened. Interwoven with this story of contemporary family life, is the story of the re-building of Coventry Cathedral after the Second World War, the subject of Adam's academic research. The novel ask questions about how we rebuild and recover after trauma, and how we learn to live with history, both personal and political.

Our next recordings for Bookclub are with Karen Joy Fowler and Nick Harkaway. Follow the links on the website to take part and ask a question.

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 her daughter has been taken by someone else.
Stacey answers listener questions about motherhood; her research; the sights and smells of Georgian London and writing from the point of view of two women, who are both fighting for the same child.

Our March guest on Bookclub is Sarah Moss, talking about The Tidal Zone. Do read along with us.

To find out about future guests click Take Part In A Recording on our website.

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 not only with investigating a murder but also with navigating the complex political and social landscape of Calcutta in 1919.

James Naughtie’s next guest on Bookclub will be Stacey Halls, talking about her novel The Foundling. Do send your questions via the website and join the recording.

Image copyright: Nick Tucker

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