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Jackie Kay on her new collection of short stories Reality, Reality

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 13 May 2012

Mariella Frostrup talks to awarding winning poet and novelist Jackie Kay about her new collection of short stories Reality, Reality. Her previous work includes Trumpet, the novel which won her the Guardian First Book Award. In this collection fourteen of the fifteen stories are told by first person female narrators and show a variety of female predicaments - from the apparently trivial world of a compulsive dieter to the deeply serious plight of a woman suffering abuse in a care home, explored with compassion, wit and insight.

Why are novels set in the fifties currently so popular and what does interest in such books reveal about our own age? As we become firmly entrenched in a period of austerity does life as it was lived over 60 years ago offer comfort, was it the last age of innocence, or does it provide a means to reflect on our own time? Crime writer Laura Wilson whose book A Willing Victim is the most recent in her series of novels featuring Detective Inspector Ted Stratton and is set in 1956, the year of Suez and the Hungarian uprising joins writer and broadcaster James Runcie whose Grantchester Mystery series featuring Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death starts in the 1953, the year of the Coronation, to discuss why the 50s is the literary decade of the moment.

And Tim Coates talks about his new website bilbary.com which aims to increase the capacity of libraries to provide e-books for their customers, in the week that the Carnegie Trust UK produced a report urging libraries to adapt to a changing world.

Producer: Hilary Dunn.

  • Read the Opening Chapter of Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay

    Chapter 1: Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay
  • Get ahead with Mariella’s next book Just Send me Word by Orlando Figes

    Find Chapter 1 of Just Send me Word by Orlando Figes
  • Jackie Kay

    Reality, Reality published by Picador

    Red Dust Road published by Picador

  • Novels set in the 1950s

    Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death by James Runcie published by Bloomsbury

    A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson published by Quercus

    Brighton Belle: A Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan published by Polygon

    The Girl in Berlin by Elizabeth Wilson published by Serpent's Tail

  • Tim Coates

    Bilbary website


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