• To the Best of Our Knowledge: Literature of Memory

  • By: Jim Fleming
  • Length: 52 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending won the 2011 Man Booker Prize. It's the story of a man in his sixties who's forced to confront a traumatic episode from his past. Barnes talks with Steve Paulson about the complications of memory, aging and moral reckoning.

Then, Poet Anna Rabinowitz found a shoe box full of old letters and photos of family and friends killed in the Holocaust. She felt compelled to tell their stories, so she wrote the book-length poem "Darkling" to feature their voices. She tells Anne Strainchamps about the acrostic buried in the poem. We also hear excerpts from the opera "Darkling."

Next, novelist and essayist Andre Aciman is fascinated by memory, though he says what we remember is rarely straightforward. It's also tinged by our longing and some of what we remember may have only happened in our imagination. Aciman talks with Steve Paulson about memory and writing and the formative influence of Proust.

And finally, as a child, Michael Ondaatje took a long ocean voyage from Sri Lanka to England. He's now gone back to that experience and used a highly fictionalized account for his novel The Cat's Table. He talks with Jim Fleming about the fine line between fiction and memoir and his own experience as a young boy who sailed to England. [Broadcast Date: December 14, 2011]

Listen to:

  • The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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