It’s no secret: nothing makes us happier than a new novel from Joan Silber.
On this week’s episode, Joan Silber discusses Secrets of Happiness (May 4, Counterpoint), the eagerly anticipated follow-up to her National Book Critics Circle Award–winning novel, Improvement (2017).
Kirkus: “A new novel in stories from the master of the form. Silber has her own sly and satisfying system for linked stories, plucking a character from one to helm the next, moving the narrative forward, or sideways, from that person’s point of view. Her latest uses this form to explore all the ways money doesn’t buy happiness and some of the things that actually do. The seven stories begin with and return to a character named Ethan, whose father—who travels a lot for his work in the garment industry—has a secret: a second family in Queens. So begins a journey based in New York, landing lightly in Chiang Mai (“so fun-loving it celebrated three different new year’s”), Bangkok, Dhaka, Kathmandu, and Phnom Penh before returning to Manhattan.….These secrets of happiness really will make you happy, at least for a few sweet hours” (starred review).
Silber and host Megan Labrise talk about the night she won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the premise of Secrets of Happiness, the benefit of shifting perspectives in fiction, the mysterious ways in which we’re all connected, whether she ever considered adding a definite article to the title, the questions she’d most like to answer about her work, and much more.
And in a sponsored interview, Megan talks with renowned yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley, founder of The Underbelly, about Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance (Workman, June 22). It’s a frank, funny, enlightening, and highly personal account of the meaning of yoga, and the sequel to Stanley’s unforgettable debut, Every Body Yoga.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.
Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn, illus. by Victo Ngai (Orchard/Scholastic)
Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (Putnam)
Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter—Then, Now, and Forever by John McWhorter (Avery)
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf)
Also mentioned in this episode:
The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James W. Pennebaker (Bloomsbury)
Thanks to our advertisers this week:
Angel of Mercy and Other Stories by Don Pizzarello
The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana
Snowflake by Arthur Jeon
The Shoemaker’s Daughter: A Novelby Helen Martin Block
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.