In this episode we are delighted to welcome 2023 Booker Prize Winner Shehan Karunatilaka to discuss Kurt Vonnegut’s eleventh novel, Galapágos. First published in 1985, it is one of his most radical, intricate and humorous works, a Darwinian satire narrated by a ghost from a million years in the future. As Lorrie Moore wrote about it at the time, Vonnegut’s ‘grumbly and idiomatic voice has always been his own, unfakeable and childlike, and his humanity, persisting as it does through his pessimism.’ We talk about where Galapágos book stands in Vonnegut’s long career, its continuing relevance to a world even more dominated by technology and the climate emergency, and whether with the two novels the followed (Bluebeard and Hocus Pocus) it represented a return to form. We discuss Vonnegut’s second career as a quotable talk show guest and ponder the seeming mismatch between his enduring popularity with readers and his less stable critical reputation. Shehan also offers us frank and fascinating insights into the influence that this book and ‘Uncle Kurt’s work in general has had on his own work, particularly the Booker winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, also narrated by a ghost.
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