Category Archives: Interviews

A Two-Way Street: Talking to Josiah Ober

By Andy Fitch 

This conversation focuses on Josiah Ober’s books The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, and Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule. Ober, Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University, focuses on the contemporary relevance of the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world. From probing the complicated (and intellectually generative) social status of economically powerful yet politically marginalized elites, to prioritizing democratic-tending Athens’s distinct capacities for producing/sharing both practical and specialized fields of knowledge, to reconceptualizing the commercial prowess and relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth across ancient Greece’s diversified macro-ecology, Ober consistently has prompted new methods for rethinking when, how, and why dialogue might open up eudaimonic possibilities within the lives of its participants. And even as these methods have received praise across numerous academic disciplines, Ober never has lost his deft touch for showing why our own ever-provisional democratic culture (both inside and outside the academy) ought continually to look to classical precedent as one practical means for engaging the most pressing social questions of the present. Ober’s latest book Demopolis: Democracy before Liberalism in Theory and Practice, recently published by Cambridge University Press, will be the subject of a sequent conversation. Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 6 — A Q&A With Advising Editor Jason Y. Ng

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This interview, like the previous one in this series with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, is with someone who wears many hats.  Jason Y. Ng is a lawyer, a columnist, an adjunct professor of law, and the President of PEN Hong Kong, as well as the author of books such as Umbrellas in Bloom: Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement Uncovered.  He is also someone who has been quoted extensively in the press on various issues.  Often, journalists ask him to comment on the latest protests or acts of repression in Hong Kong, as they know how eloquent and informed he can be speaking on those sorts of topics.  Here, though, befitting the fact that he has made time in his busy life to serve as an advising editor to the LARB China Channel, I’ve posed questions to him about books and films, variations on things I’ve asked others in this series. Continue reading

Total Junk Rubbing Up Against Glorious, Gorgeous Lyricism: Talking to Daniel Kane

By Andy Fitch

This present conversation (transcribed by Phoebe Kaufman) focuses on Daniel Kane’s Do You Have a Band?”: Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City. More than once, I have picked up a Daniel Kane book and realized he somehow had anticipated just what I (and many poets, scholars, artists I know) would most want to read about. “Do You Have a Band?” certainly falls into that category, as did All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s (University of California Press, 2003), and We Saw the Light: Conversations Between the New American Cinema and Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2010). Kane is Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Sussex. My admiration for his own interview work made this particular talk a particular pleasure. Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 5 — A Q&A with Academic Editor Eileen Cheng-yin Chow

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This is the fifth in our BLARB series made up of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. This week’s Q&A is with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, who has, like some other interviewees, worked as both a writer and a translator—in her case, in one very high profile case, also as a co-translator, of the bestselling Yu Hua novel Brothers. She also has two institutional homes, which I’ll ask her about, one at Duke and another in Taipei. JW  Continue reading

The Non-Expressible Part of Thinking: Talking to Etel Adnan

By Andy Fitch

This conversation focuses on Etel Adnan’s two-volume selected works To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader and her more recent diptych SEA and FOG (winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, and the California Book Award for Poetry). Just as Adnan’s work has spread widely across a range of artistic and intellectual practices (most consistently, perhaps, painting, poetry, journalism, philosophy), an adventurous and indefatigable disposition has taken her across the world many times over. Born in Beirut in 1925, Adnan studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, at UC-Berkeley, and at Harvard, and taught at Dominican College in San Rafael from 1958 to 1972. In solidarity with the Algerian War of Independence, Adnan began to resist the political implications of writing in French and became a painter. Through her participation in the movement against the Vietnam War, Adnan then began to write poetry and became, in her words, “an American poet.” Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 4: A Double Q&A with Advising Editors Mengfei Chen and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This is the fourth in a series of interviews BLARB has been running to introduce some people with key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. The interview with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow promised last week will come soon, but first we wanted to share some views on books by two China Channel advising editors, one of whom used to co-edit LARB’s China Blog with me (Maura Elizabeth Cunningham) and the other of whom currently does so (Mengfei Chen). This Q&A will involve fewer questions to make room for two sets of answers. Continue reading

Three Questions for Sarah Rafael García Regarding Her Short-Story Collection, SanTana’s Fairy Tales

By Daniel A. Olivas

As a college classmate of mine, Bruce Handy, notes in his new book, Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, fairy tales, “in their original, unadulterated, 120-proof versions, are so gruesome and bleak, even barbarous, as to raise the question whether they should be thought of as children’s literature at all.” Continue reading

Name Dropping: An Interview with Chris Campanioni

By Kristina Marie Darling

Chris Campanioni’s new book is Death of Art (C&R Press). His recent work appears in Ambit, Gorse, Hotel, Whitehot, and RHINO. He is a Provost Fellow and MAGNET Mentor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is conducting his doctoral studies in English. He edits PANK, At Large, and Tupelo Quarterly and teaches literature and creative writing at Pace University and Baruch College. Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 3 — A Q&A with Commissioning Editor Anne Henochowicz

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This is the third in a series BLARB will be running of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. (Stay tuned for one with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow coming soon that may be the last in the series.) Regular readers of the China Blog will be familiar with at least one thing this week’s interviewee, Anne Henochowicz, has done: this review she wrote for BLARB last year. This Q&A, though, will fill them in on more about her, while also introducing her to those who have only recently begun to check out the China Blog or were led to this post via social media. JW  Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 2 — A Q&A with Commissioning Editor Nick Stember

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This is the second in a BLARB series made up of interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the soon-to-launch LARB China Channel. This week’s Q&A is with Nick Stember, who has worked both as a writer and a translator, with his special areas of focus including Chinese science fiction and comics. JW  Continue reading