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The Fictional World of Edward P. Jones

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A.O. Scott, The Times’s co-chief film critic, returns to the Book Review’s podcast this week to discuss the work of Edward P. Jones, the second subject in Scott’s essay series The Americans, about writers who give a sense of the country’s complex identity.

“The matter of Black life, of Black lives, is really his subject,” Scott says of Jones. “I was also thinking about how the two books of stories — ‘Lost in the City’ and ‘All Aunt Hagar’s Children’ — are all set almost entirely in Washington, D.C. And it sort of occurred to me that that city, for all it gets talked about and all of its importance in our national life, is kind of underrepresented in American literature. In a way, he’s kind of a great regional writer, and the region is the District of Columbia.”

Eric Jay Dolin visits the podcast to discuss his new book, “A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes,” including the plethora of primary material he drew on for the project.

“As I like to say, I wrote a book on whaling and I’ve never harpooned a whale,” Dolin says. “I wrote a book on the fur trade; I’ve never trapped a beaver. I wrote a book on pirates; I’ve never done piracy on the open ocean. And here I’ve written a book on hurricanes, and I wouldn’t classify myself as a meteorologist or even a severe-weather nerd, but I was able to tap into what those people are thinking and doing by virtue of what they’ve written over the years.”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Lauren Christensen and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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