The Book Show

Tuesdays, 3pm - 3:30pm; Thursdays, 8:30pm - 9pm

Each week on The Book Show, host Joe Donahue interviews authors about their books, their lives and their craft. It is a celebration of both reading and writers. 

As the son of a librarian, Joe has been part of the book world since childhood. His first job was as a library assistant, during college he was a clerk at an independent book store and for the past 25 years he has been interviewing authors about their books on the radio.

He is also the host of The Roundtable on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, a 3-hour general interest talk show. Notable authors he has interviewed include: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, John Updike, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Anne Rice, Philip Roth, E.L Doctorow, Richard Russo, David Sedaris and Maya Angelou. 

Joe  has won several awards for his interviews, including honors from the Associated Press, the Edward R. Murrow Awards, the New York State Association of Broadcasters, The Headliners, The National Press Club and the Scripps-Howard Foundation. 

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Twitter: @The_Book_Show

Albany, NY – Physicist and novelist are not professions usually found in the same individual, but Janna Levin manages to embody both identities with what some have called a "rock-star" quality. In this interview, Gretchen talks to Janna Levin about her new novel "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines," which uses real-life mathematicians and codebreakers Alan Turing and Kurt Godel to explore how brilliant minds can have trouble coping with real life.

Albany, NY – Theoretical physicist and novelist are not professions usually thought of together, but Janna Levin combines them with a hip, rock-and-roll aplomb. In this interview with host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, Levin talks about her latest book "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines." The book follows the lives of two real-life mathematicians, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing, brilliant scientists who found themselves confounded by normal life.

Albany, NY – Historian Martha Hodes talks to host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina about her new book "The Sea Captain's Wife," the true story of a white, working-class New England widow who remarries a black mariner from the West Indies, ironically raising her social status by doing so. Hodes talks about how the story illustrates racial attitudes of the 19th century, both in America and the West Indies.

Albany, NY – Bill Bryson, whose humorous book on science "A Short History of Nearly Everything" was an award-winning success, talks to Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina about his newest book, a memoir about his childhood in 1950's Iowa. "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" covers Bryson's early years in Des Moines and uses them to provide profound insights on the ways in which times have changed in the United States.

Albany, NY – Novelist Kate Atkinson doesn't think of her newest novel "One Good Turn" as a crime thriller, but admits that it does have an awful lot of dead bodies littering its pages in this interview with Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina. Atkinson talks about the book's Edinburgh setting and the advantages of writing about your hometown. She also explores the characters that populate this darkly humorous novel.

Albany, NY – Michael Cox's novel "The Meaning of Night" mixes historical fiction with murder mystery to tell the story of a Victorian-era man who discovers that he may be the heir to an English title and the secrets behind his heritage. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks with the author about the themes of identity and self that weave throughout the book's complex plot, and about the narrative quirks the writer uses in presenting it.

Albany, NY – Alexander McCall Smith sets his latest novel "The Right Attitude to Rain" in his home town of Edinburgh, Scotland. Smith, the author of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" novels, talks about why he focuses on female protagonists and the power of certain primal emotions in storytelling. He also discusses his part in a recent collection of retold myths from around the world.

Albany, NY – Mary Gordon is known for her novels, but now a collection of her short stories, "The Stories of Mary Gordon," has appeared. She talks with Gretchen about the way that a story, like a poem, can capture the intensity of a moment. She also shares her thoughts on the way short stories are unjustly viewed in the literary world as a lesser form.

Albany, NY – Museum exhibit designer Jeff Hoke has written a one-of-a-kind book that combines elements of graphic novels, science and alchemy texts, and crafts projects in an attempt to provide readers with the experience of moving through Hoke's own personal museum. Gretchen talks to the author about the various sections of his museum.

Albany, NY – With five decades' worth of experience in the academic world, William Chace's new book "100 Semesters: my adventures as student, professor and university president, and what I learned along the way" holds many insights into the evolution of higher education in America and the obstacles it now faces. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to the author about campus politics, finances and much more.

Albany, NY – Exiled Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o talks to Gretchen about his new novel "Wizard of the Crow," which was 10 years in the making. It tells the story of two revolutionaries in a fictional African country who rail against their dictatorial govenrment. Gretchen and Ngugi discuss the power of words to topple governments and Thiong'o's experience returning to his country two years ago.

Albany, NY – Ward Just's 15th novel, "Forgetfulness," tells the story of a portrait artist with a prior history of intelligence work who finds himself grappling with his own feelings when he is given the opportunity to confront the terrorists who murdered his wife. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to the author about artists as good protagonists and musical influences on writing.

Albany, NY – Gretchen's guest this week is author Kim Edwards, whose new book "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" tells the story of a doctor who sends away his newborn baby, afflicted with Downs Syndrome, and tells his wife the baby died. A nurse disregards the doctor's instructions and raises the child on her own, which leads to the Downs Syndrome child leading a parallel and secret life apart from her biological family.

Albany, NY – Lily King's novel "The English Teacher" tells the story of a woman who is capable of dealing with life only through the literature she teaches, a flaw which begins affecting her son, new husband and stepchildren. On this week's show, the author talks with Gretchen about what it's like to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Albany, NY – Theories about what lies beneath the Earth's surface have been a part of many human civilizations throughout history, and David Standish's new book "Hollow Earth" explores the science and literature that have developed around the idea. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to Standish about the various explanations people have come up with about underground worlds.

Albany, NY – Although Githa Hariharan's novel "In Times of Siege" was published in 2003, it is still well worth examining, given its continued relevance. Gretchen talks to the author about the book's story of a mild mannered Indian university professor who finds himself forced to defend his teachings from religious extremists while simultaneously dealing with an alluring young student who has moved in with him.

Albany, NY – Host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina interviews author Elizabeth Buchan, whose latest novel, "Wives Behaving Badly," is a sequel to her best-seller "Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman." Buchan talks about how she tried to make the sequel stand on its own terms, and about the themes of aging and gender roles that are prevalent in her work.

Albany, NY – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina welcomes back author T.C. Boyle to talk about his new book "Talk Talk," a novel about a deaf woman who goes on a journey to find the man who has stolen her identity. Her search for justice and revenge end up taking on a life of their own in the thrilling new tale.

Albany, NY – This week, Gretchen talks to author James Shapiro about his latest book, "A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599," a unique biography of the Bard. Shapiro traces the events of what was perhaps Shakespeare's most creative year and dissects the personal and financial factors that made it so. Gretchen and James also discuss the differences between American and British perspectives on history and why James feels a limited focus is a good choice when writing a biography.

Albany, NY – Award-winning novelist Monica Ali is the guest on this week's show, talking about her latest novel "Alentejo Blue." The book tells a number of intertwining stories about the residents of a small Portuguese village, some natives, some expatriates. Ali discusses the book's non-linear structure and her individual take on the importance of research to a writer.

Albany, NY – Anthony Giardina's latest novel "White Guys" uses a true-crime story, that of a Boston man who shot and killed his pregnant wife and blamed it on a black man, as its inspiration. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to Giardina about his novel, a tale of a group of Irish and Italian-American friends who navigate the cultural changes wrought by the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Albany, NY – Best-selling British author Hilary Mantel talks to host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina about her latest novel "Beyond Black." It tells the story of a psychic struggling to deal with the rarely-explored consequences of her talent. She is aided by an uncouth spirit guide and a woman who is her polar opposite in her quest to come to terms with her life.

Albany, NY – Ryan Knighton developed a rare disorder in his teens that slowly robbed him of his sight. Ironically, the experience caused him to get a new perspective on the world around him, allowing him the opportunity to write about it in his new book, "Cockeyed: A Memoir." Host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to Knighton about the unexpectedly humorous and irreverent book.

Albany, NY – Host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to author Patricia Klindienst about her latest book "The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans." The book chronicles Klindienst's travels around the country, studying the gardens of various cultures and what they reveal about the peoples who tend them.

Albany, NY – Author Sara Gruen talks to host Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina about Gruen's new novel, "Water for Elephants." The book tells the story of an elderly man in a nursing home who finds someone who truly cares for him there, while he reminisces about his years in a circus during the Great Depression. Gruen discusses the origins of the novel and the reasons elephants are so important to it.

Albany, NY – The world of academia is the setting for Elinor Lipman's newest novel "My Latest Grievance," the story of a girl raised by her two left-wing college professor parents and the effect on their family when an old flame of her father's returns to wreak havoc.

Albany, NY – Jodi Picoult, author of "My Sister's Keeper" and "Vanishing Acts," comes onto The Book Show to discuss her newest novel "The Tenth Circle." It tells the story of the Stone family, which is rocked when Trixie Stone, daughter of Daniel and Laura, is date-raped. Daniel finds himself facing an angry part of himself he thought long gone, and Laura must deal with her guilt over being with her lover when her daughter needed her. Picoult discusses the research done for the novel and the book's unique nature as a novel-comic hybrid.

Albany, NY – Hilma Wolitzer's books "Heart's Ending" and "Tunnel of Love" earned her critical acclaim and a devoted following, but she experienced a long period of writer's block, which she talks candidly about in this interview. Her new novel "The Doctor's Daughter," is her first in 12 years, and tells the story of a book doctor in her 50s who begins to have doubts about her marriage, career and relationship with her deteriorating father.

Albany, NY – Walter Mosley, of "Easy Rawlins" fame, talks to Gretchen about his newest novel, "Fortunate Son," the story of two boys - one privileged and white, the other black with a hole in his lung - who are raised together and forced to separate. Mosley talks about the book's themes of race and fate, and about how it has been received by readers and critics.

Albany, NY – Sarah Waters' newest book "The Night Watch" tells the story of lesbian ambulance drivers during the Blitz of London. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina talks to the author about how she got into writing historical fiction, what things were like for Londoners in World War II, and her thoughts on being perceived as a lesbian writer.