Sept 23: Karl Taro Greenfeld


Tonight at 8 PM on KPFK 90.7, my Bibliocracy Radio guest is Karl Taro Greenfeld.  He is a friend to this program and our station, and a politically engaged writer, the author of many books of both fiction and nonfiction, including his previous novel Triburbia, with his work as essayist, sports writer, memoirist and short story writer having been celebrated in the best American everything and everywhere.  He’s written about professional athletics and culture and politics and, quite personally and famously, about his disabled brother, and contributed to all kinds of popular media, including TIME and The Nation.  Greenfeld  has done something new and especially engaging in his new novel, The Subprimes.  Inspired or provoked by the head-spinningly weird if totally predictable collapse of the financial services sector, the undeniable but still denied redistribution of wealth to economic elites, the privatization of nearly every element of public and private life, he’s written a book of both sincerely instructive farce and urgently real social and cultural analysis.  The Subprimes speaks to the challenge of making the impossibly obvious both delicately unavoidable and yet also avoiding fatalism, so that the author’s obvious frustration, insistence, urging and rage are offered in the invitation of a smart, entertaining, funny narrative meant, despite it all, to start a conversation and not end one.  In the tradition of Sinclair Lewis, Gore Vidal and, yes, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Greenfeld has created an allegorical comic tale which flirts with realism, an homage and a perversely optimistic call to action.  The Subprimes is, finally, a novel for the 99%, at least those among them who, as Karl Taro Greenfeld, have not just been watching but paying attention.  Thanks for listening on the radio or online.  This show is available as a free download from the KPFK audio archives.