Acclaimed American author Kurt Vonnegut is known for his legacy of satirical literature, including his best-selling novel Slaughterhouse Five and his short-story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. His writing often mixed dark humor with speculative fiction, calling attention to important issues in American society, politics, and life. Listen to learn more about Vonnegut’s influential work from interviews with the author himself.
Though Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch 22” was published more than a half century ago, its ideas and attitudes remain relevant today. The book’s title has even become a part of our language. The novel, which takes place on the battlefield during World War II, was inspired by Heller’s own experiences in war. He decided not to write a typical war novel, though, and early critics were surprised and even offended by the book’s tone and content. Listen to hear why “Catch 22” felt new and different at the time it was published, and learn how its ideas have continued to endure today.
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was published in 1945. Its message was explicitly political as a statement and a satire against Stalinism and the dictatorial socialism of the Soviet Union. Understanding this allegory gives deeper meaning to the talking animals who take control of their farm. Seventy years later, does this message of failed revolution resonate in a communist nation with a similar revolution and trajectory? Listen to learn how a later theatrical adaptation of the book is being understood in modern day China.
Current Event November 13, 2013
Jonathan Swift’s 1726 classic “Gulliver’s Travels” is a satirical tale of travels to a long-lost land. A modern-day movie, starring actor Jack Black, takes the centuries old classic and begins the story in modern day New York City. Listen to learn more about the original novel and this new movie adaptation.
Current Event October 30, 2013
Playwright Samuel Beckett is known for his postmodernist, absurdist and dark comedy writing. His work, including his most famous play 'Waiting for Godot,' is hard to grasp initially but reflected the post World War II era and his own worldview. Beckett had a complex life as a man and a writer. Listen to learn more about Samuel Beckett’s life and his plays.