Susan Choi on the Range of Language’s Possibilities in Raymond Carver and Grace Paley
This Week on The Writers Institute Podcast, From the Archives of the New York State Writers Institute
Books are written in solitude, but writers do some of their finest work with crowds—in public talks, interviews, and events. The best moments from those strange, dramatic interactions often go missing, however: either they’re never recorded, or nobody will ever find the recordings. Fortunately, the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany has been methodically recording thousands of writers’ events since 1983, when it was founded by the novelist William Kennedy.
Writers direct years of effort to language’s possibilities, so when you listen to a podcast devoted to writers speaking (which is this one) you can expect an appropriate range of possibility. You might hear something unforgettable—something that changes how you think, or reinforces a hunch you had, or confuses you in the most liberating way. On The Writers Institute, we seek those moments in the New York State Writers Institute’s overbrimming audio archives, guided by writers in 2022 who join that archival exploration. In this series premiere, Susan Choi—author of novels including Trust Exercise and My Education—listens with host Adam Colman to literary giants Grace Paley and Raymond Carver. Along the way, she talks about writers in the world, off the page.
“One thing I really like about writers,” Choi says, is that “writers are really curious about other people . . . I’m constantly amazed by how often I meet people who have no curiosity at all, about anything. It’s really disturbing to me, actually.”
On this episode:
Susan Choi (in conversation with Adam Colman). Books: Trust Exercise and My Education.
Raymond Carver (from the archives). Books: Cathedral and Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
Grace Paley (from the archives). Books: Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Later the Same Day.
Jamaica Kincaid (from the archives). Books: Lucy and A Small Place.
William Kennedy (in conversation with Adam Colman). Books: Ironweed and The Ink Truck
Find out more about the New York State Writers Institute at www.nyswritersinstitute.org.
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Susan Choi is the author of the novels My Education, American Woman, A Person of Interest, and The Foreign Student. Her work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award and winner of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award and the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. With David Remnick, she co-edited Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn.