Episode 236: Chibundu Onuzo, author of Sankofa (Counterpoint), on how she saw the fictional country of Bamana:

“I’ve done a lot of research. I didn’t want to just make things. I feel like sometimes people do that with Africa… like it’s an empty space. They just project things onto it. So I didn’t want to call my fictional country “Manga Bungo” and pick some random phrases that mean nothing, because Africa is this empty space where you can project anything you want… “Bamana” is a real Old West African kingdom. I tried to ground things like that in reality, so it felt real.”

Episode 238: Tiphanie Yanique, author of Monster in the middle (riverhead) on the Vivian Gornick caption she chose for the book (Put romantic love at the center of a novel these days, and who can be convinced that the characters in her pursuit will achieve something great?

Her argument in her book (The end of the novel of love) was that love novels dondon’t really work for us as a culture anymore. Because we know – in quotes know– that romance won’t save us in the end. That falling in love is not what saves us. And I thought, this woman is smart but i don’t know if i believe her† II’m not sure if theyright, you know? So I thought, I’m going to write a book to see if I can tease this statement – to see if I agree with her, or to challenge her…Her whole book was basically a launch pad for Monster in the middle In a way I haveI’m testing her theory.

Episode 240: Rax King, author of Tasteless: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer (vintage) about the distinction between tasteless and mess

For me, something tacky might be closest to campy or kitschy. Itis fun in a way that makes you feel bad for enjoying it. What I hope to do is take that guilt away and make people feel like these are things that are like this Okay to enjoy. While something junk has a bad name for a reason. ItIt’s not just kitschy and campy and Technicolor and too cute and goofy to love. ItIt’s something that has a bad reputation that it deserves a little bit. it does not mattermake people feel good real to engage in something thatIt’s so gross it makes you feel good, in that guilty way, to engage in something thatis sticky.

Editor in General Megan Labrise is the host of the Fully booked podcasting. Find new episodes every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts and Spotify or at kirkusreviews.com/podcast