Why was the CIA involved in literature? Stephanie and Michelle talk to Dr Alys Moody about the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA-funded group that financed a whole range of literary activities in the mid-twentieth century. They ponder shadowy government organisations, cover-ups, and what happens when a bunch of writers find out that the CIA is funding their conferences.
Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad are two of the most talked about American titles of the past few years, with Paul Beatty winning the Booker Prize in 2016 and Colson Whitehead taking home the 2016 National Book Award. This week, Stephanie and Michelle discuss The Sellout and The Underground Railroad, and think about why these books have resonated so widely with audiences around the world at this particular moment in time. In this episode, Stephanie predicts that The Underground Railroad will win the Pulitzer Prize, which has now come to pass. Stephanie enjoys being right.