The LRB Podcast

Weekly conversations drawn from the pages of the LRB, with hosts Thomas Jones, Adam Shatz and Malin Hay.

What was Orwell for?

Colin Burrow and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

22 November 2023 · 1hr 01min

George Orwell wasn’t afraid to speak against totalitarianism – but what was he for? Colin Burrow joins Tom to unpick the cultural conservatism and crackling violence underpinning Orwell’s writing, to reassess his vision of socialism and to figure out why teenagers love him so much.

The Infected Blood Scandal

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, Tom Crewe and Malin Hay, 13 June 2024

15 November 2023 · 49mins

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of haemophiliacs were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood products known to be contaminated. Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Tom Crewe join Malin to discuss the findings and what they mean for survivors. 

The Giant Crypto Fraud

John Lanchester and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

8 November 2023 · 56mins

When Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of fraud last week, the only surprise was how quickly the jury reached their verdict. John Lanchester joins Tom to discuss how the former crypto billionaire ended up facing a life sentence, from his early career in finance and embrace of Effective Altruism to the simple but audacious nature of his crime, and why he found himself in a US court, even though US citizens were banned from using his trading company, FTX.

What is British humour anyway?

Jonathan Coe and Malin Hay, 13 June 2024

1 November 2023 · 36mins

Anglophiles abroad love the British sense of humour – but what does that actually mean? Jonathan Coe joins Malin for a serious chat about comedy and its double-edged role in the UK’s political life.

31 October 2023 · 05mins

Nineteenth-century Britain is often imagined as gloomy and dark, epitomised by Dickensian grime and Queen Victoria’s prolonged state of black-clad mourning. But in reality this period saw an explosion of colour, following a number of scientific discoveries, as shown in Colour Revolution, a new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This is a sponsored episode.

Who wrote the dictionary?

Daisy Hay and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

25 October 2023 · 36mins

Daisy Hay joins Tom to discuss how contributors and their enthusiasms shaped the Oxford English Dictionary to this day.


War in Gaza

Amjad Iraqi, Michael Sfard and Adam Shatz, 13 June 2024

18 October 2023 · 53mins

As the siege on Gaza intensifies, many observers are describing the current Hamas-Israel conflict as a complete overhaul of the region’s status quo. Amjad Iraqi, a senior editor at +972 Magazine, and Michael Sfard, a leading human rights lawyer, join Adam Shatz to discuss the roots and ramifications of the current crisis. 

Wrestling Days

Tom Crewe, 13 June 2024

11 October 2023 · 15mins

Crass, violent, misogynistic, dumb, fake – and irresistible. Tom Crewe reads his 2021 piece unpacking his youthful obsession with pro-wrestling, a sport both ‘hideous’ and ‘Homeric’.

Into the Volcano

Rosemary Hill and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

4 October 2023 · 45mins

Rosemary Hill explains how the 19th century’s obsession with Vesuvius spawned scientific disciplines, artistic innovations and nude picnics.

What is 'woke capital'?

Laleh Khalili and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

27 September 2023 · 58mins

Laleh Khalili joins Tom to discuss the case of Arif Naqvi, who for many on the right epitomises the idea of the 'woke capitalist', and what goes wrong when private equity firms look to profit from public services.

Think of a Number

John Lanchester and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

20 September 2023 · 47mins

In a world where communication is only as effective as its ‘truthiness’, numbers are vital to political success. But, as John Lanchester explains, some of the most influential stats in UK politics are ‘pants’. John joins Tom to discuss why GDP, immigration numbers and English Premier League odds are so frequently misleading, and how we can be better attuned to the misuse of data.

Adolfo Kaminsky, Beyond Borders

Adam Shatz, 13 June 2024

13 September 2023 · 41mins

Adolfo Kaminsky, a first-class forger while still a teenager, saved thousands of lives as an agent of the French Resistance. ‘Forgery wasn’t just an art he perfected,’ Adam Shatz writes, ‘but a vocation and an ethics.’

Fact-Checking ‘Ulysses’

Colm Tóibín and Thomas Jones, 13 June 2024

6 September 2023 · 48mins

As Colm Tóibín explains in a recent piece, Ulysses is pockmarked with errors, only some intentional. Colm joins Tom to discuss Joyce’s deliberate and accidental mistakes, Trieste’s essential influence on the novel, and why a queer reading of Ulysses really does hold water.

The Sucker, the Sucker!

Amia Srinivasan, 13 June 2024

30 August 2023 · 33mins

‘Octopuses,’ Amia Srinivasan writes, ‘are the closest we can come, on earth, to knowing what it might be like to encounter intelligent aliens.’ In our third summer reading, Srinivasan explores the paradoxical nature of octopus lives, and the difficulties humans have in understanding them.

The Case of Agatha Christie

John Lanchester, 13 June 2024

23 August 2023 · 39mins

John Lanchester dissects Agatha Christie’s compulsive readability, and considers why, despite her brazen lack of style, she was a great formalist.