Today we’re proud to launch the Spectator’s Books Podcast, a literary younger sibling of our popular weekly podcast on politics and current affairs. Each week I’ll be hosting a discussion about the most interesting recent books and the literary talking-points of the day.
Books contain every subject known to man – and rather than focusing narrowly on fiction or literary biography, we want to take full advantage of their range. We want to roam as widely as the written word itself.
In the coming weeks I’ll be talking to the Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, recently longlisted for the country’s most prestigious non-fiction prize for his exquisite memoir of his dissident father’s abduction by the Gadaffi regime. I’ll be discussing golden-age crime fiction with two eminent practitioners. I’ll be talking about the crisis of masculinity with the authors of two very different books on the subject. And, in his centenary year, we’ll be considering Roald Dahl and asking: Big Friendly Giant, or Twit?
In the first in our series, my guests are the eminent mathematician Marcus du Sautoy and the critic and author Steven Poole, who talk wittily and enlighteningly about some of the most challenging and fascinating issues in science writing. Their concerns, on this occasion, are not with what we know – but with what we can’t know, and what we knew but didn’t know we knew.
Marcus du Sautoy’s What We Cannot Know probes the outer limits of what science can do; while Steven Poole’s Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas wonders looks at the human knowledge doesn’t so much march forward as follow its footprints in circles like Winnie-the-Pooh on a heffalump hunt. Listen and unlearn!