Main content

Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad

James Naughtie and readers talk to American author Jennifer Egan about her groundbreaking novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2011.

Made up of 13 chapters each told from a different person's point of view, Jennifer Egan's experimental novel A Visit from the Goon Squad interlocks the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Bennie's star in the music business, meanwhile, is on the wane.

Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths cross theirs. The stories travel between New York, Naples and Kenya, and span several decades, from the seventies punk scene to the near future; they are in turn hilarious and moving. Jennifer describes the stories as being standalone, and the styles range from a pastiche of celebrity journalism to a PowerPoint presentation. The Pulitzer judges called the book "an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed".

Presenter : James Naughtie
Interviewed guest : Jennifer Egan
Producer : Dymphna Flynn

January's Bookclub choice : In Siberia by Colin Thubron (1999).

Available now

28 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
Producer James Naughtie
Interviewed Guest Jennifer Egan
Producer Dymphna Flynn

Broadcasts

Bookclub at 20

Bookclub at 20

Sebastian Faulks, Naomi Alderman and more select favourite editions of the programme

Quiz – The Handmaid's Tale

Quiz – The Handmaid's Tale

Twenty questions to test your knowledge of Margaret Atwood's famous novel.

Explore James Naughtie's picks from 200 editions

Explore James Naughtie's picks from 200 editions

A treasure trove of the 20th and 21st Century’s great writers discussing their work

Sample our books and authors Clip Collection

Sample our books and authors Clip Collection

Interviews, previews and reviews

Books website

Books website

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.

Short stories to keep

Short stories to keep

The fiction podcast featuring the best stories from the UK's finest writers

Podcast