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Arts: Literature

Suzanne-oSullivan-for-Forum

For more than 20 years, neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan has treated
patients who have debilitating physical symptoms — such as pain
and seizures — with no identifiable cause. These patients,
O’Sullivan notes, “find themselves trapped in a zone between the
worlds of medicine and psychology, with neither community taking
responsibility.” O’Sullivan joins Forum to talk about her new book
“Is It All in Your Head?,” an exploration of psychosomatic disorders
and their causes.

zadie-smith-c-dominique-nabokov-for-web

Zadie Smith’s latest novel “Swing Time” follows the lives of two biracial girls who dream of becoming dancers, though only one has enough talent to succeed. The two take very different paths into adulthood, one becoming a personal assistant to a pop star, while the other slips back into poverty. Smith, whose debut novel “White Teeth” was widely celebrated, joins us to talk about her writing, her own multiracial background and why the results of America’s presidential election resonate so personally for her even though she is English.

Information on Zadie Smith’s Book Passage Appearance

ferris-bueller-for-forum

Why do teen movies from the 1980s endure? In his new book “Brat Pack America,” San Francisco-based author Kevin Smokler celebrates films like “The Breakfast Club,” “Back to the Future” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” through interviews with cast members, fun trivia and visits to iconic locations including the Chicago suburbs and Santa Cruz (Santa Carla in “The Lost Boys”). We’ll talk to him about the book, and we want to hear from you: What ’80s teen flick ruled your world?

First-time novelist Yaa Gyasi says she was a voracious reader growing up, and "never turned down a trip to the library."

While traveling to Ghana on a Stanford research fellowship, Yaa Gyasi visited the Cape Coast Castle, where she learned about the role Africans played in perpetuating the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This knowledge became the impetus for her debut novel “Homegoing,” which chronicles the lives of two Ghanaian sisters and their experiences of slavery. We speak with Berkeley-based Gyasi about the novel, which has been named a New York Times notable book for 2016.

Peter Orner

“Stories, both my own and those I’ve taken to heart, make up whoever it is that I’ve become.” So writes author Peter Orner, whose life has always centered around books, both as a writer and as an educator. In his new collection of essays, “Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live,” the San Francisco State Professor combines literary reflections with personal memories, delving into theories on literary giants like Kafka and Chekhov, and also exploring his relationship with his deceased father. Orner joins us in-studio to discuss the connections between literature, life, memory and identity.

Reading About Reading About Reading: On Peter Orner’s ‘Am I Alone Here?’ (KQED Arts)

Door to Hell

Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton are on a mission to make you rethink where you travel. Their new book, “Atlas Obscura,” is filled with hidden gems to explore throughout the world, from a Portuguese church decorated with bones and skulls to the sparkling glowworm caves of New Zealand. In this hour of Forum, the three authors, who also run the popular Atlas Obscura website, tell us about unknown wonders worth seeking out. And we want to hear from you: What’s your favorite obscure landmark or place?

Images from “Atlas Obscura”

Door to Hell
Door to Hell (Photo: Alamy Stock Photo/Tim-Whitby)
Fremont Troll
Fremont Troll (Photo: Moonspenders)
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Glowworm Caves (Photo: Martin Rietze)
Deyrolle Taxidermy
Deyrolle Taxidermy (Photo: Paul Léger)

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a woman reads on a bed

It’s time for Forum’s annual holiday books show. Whether it’s a new biography of Eleanor Roosevelt or that best-selling novel you stayed up all night finishing — what was the best book you read in 2016? We’ll also check in with Bay Area bookstores about what books to give your friends and family this year.

 

Michael’s Suggestions

Suggestions from Karen West of Book Passage

Suggestions from Michael Barnard of Rakestraw Books

Suggestions from Faith Bell of Bell’s Books

Listener Recommendations Mentioned On Air

See More Listener Recommendations on our Facebook page

A statute of the late martial arts icon Bruce Lee is seen in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles June 16, 2013.

It’s no coincidence that the Bay Area has such a thriving martial arts scene. Bruce Lee, one of the sports’ modern masters was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown and returned to the area as a teen. Not long after he came back, Lee transformed martial arts, combining various styles and bringing freedom and self expression to the traditional disciplines. Forum talks about Bruce Lee’s years in the Bay Area and the thriving martial arts scene he helped establish.

ron-hanson-for-forum

Author Ron Hansen has tackled some of the most iconic stories of the American Old West. His novel about the murder of outlaw Jesse James was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. In his new book, “The Kid,” Hansen takes on one of the most prominent figures of western mythology — Billy the Kid. Hansen, a professor at Santa Clara University, joins us to talk about “The Kid,” western mythology and his approach to historical fiction.

First-time novelist Yaa Gyasi says she was a voracious reader growing up, and "never turned down a trip to the library."

While traveling to Ghana on a Stanford research fellowship, Yaa Gyasi visited the Cape Coast Castle, where she learned about the role Africans played in perpetuating the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This knowledge became the impetus for her debut novel “Homegoing,” which chronicles the lives of two Ghanaian sisters and their experiences of slavery. We speak with Berkeley-based Gyasi about the novel, which has been named a New York Times notable book for 2016.

Book Review: ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi (KQED Arts)

Thomas Friedman

In his new book, “Thank You for Being Late,” Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman examines the social and economic challenges posed by a world where everything is getting faster. He writes about workers’ anxiety as machines perform increasingly sophisticated tasks, and shares his prescription for more sustainable economic growth.  We speak with the longtime foreign affairs columnist about the book and what a Trump administration might mean for the global economy.

poet

Chinaka Hodge has two big passions: hip hop and her native Oakland. As a teen, Hodge co-founded her own music group called “The Getback” and established herself as a spoken word performer with Oakland’s Youth Speaks and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Hodge doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, tackling issues like gentrification, race and the killing of Oscar Grant. In her new book of poetry, “Dated Emcees,” Hodge finds inspiration in her sometimes messy love life. She joins us to talk about her writing and her upcoming project with “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler.

Ann Patchett poses for a portrait.

Ann Patchett’s writing has covered a wide landscape of topics, from the romance between hostages and their captors in “Bel Canto” to the painful toll of her friend’s cancer and heroin addiction in the memoir “Truth and Beauty.” Patchett’s newest novel, “Commonwealth,” is loosely based on her own family history, as six stepsiblings struggle to heal from the trauma of their childhoods. Patchett discusses what happens when an author turns the lens on herself, her thoughts on feminism and writing, and why she identifies more as an independent bookseller than a famous author.

dalzell-for-forum

Tom Dalzell has spent years walking the streets of Berkeley, observing and documenting the city’s many eccentricities. In his new book “Quirky Berkeley,” he shares his oddest discoveries, from bowling balls as lawn art to a “Fish House” on Matthews Street, and presents profiles of the residents who gift their art to the street. In this hour of Forum, we talk with Dalzell about the visual and cultural idiosyncrasies that contribute to Berkeley’s free-spirited reputation. And we want to hear from you: What quirks make you love your neighborhood?

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