Today's episode is a fascinating and timely conversation that comes to us courtesy of Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program, featuring Kiese Laymon the author of Heavy: an American Memoir, and Shane Bauer, the author of American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment. Heavy and American Prison were, respectively, the first and second place recipients of the 2018 Discover Great New Writers Award for Nonfiction, and both are works that urgently grapple with the state of America today, winning deep praise from critics and readers alike. In Heavy, Laymon takes readers with him on an unforgettable journey from his Mississippi childhood to life as a university professor and acclaimed writer - an odyssey in which racism, sexual violence, trauma and other monstrosities of 21st-century America are challenged by love and a spirit of questing intelligence. And in American Prison, investigative journalist Shane Bauer sought out the real experience of Americans living in incarceration by taking an entry-level job in a private Louisiana prison - and bringing what he found onto the page with eloquence and painstaking care. In a moment when the issues that these books address seems more urgent in our nation's life than ever, we asked the authors to sit down with Miwa Messer, director of B&N's Discover Great New Writers program, to talk about their work, and how they see its meaning against the backdrop of America in 2019.
A note for listeners: at points in this conversation, some strong language does come up, which may not be appropriate if you have young children in earshot.