Apr 4, 2022
James Wood is a
literary critic, essayist and novelist.
He was The Guardian's chief
literary critic between 1992 and 1995, and a senior editor at
The New Republic between 1995 and 2007. Since
roughly that time he's taught the Practice of Literary
Criticism at Harvard University and has been a staff writer and
book critic at The New Yorker magazine. In 2009, he won
the National Magazine Award for reviews and criticism. Books
include How Fiction Works, the
novel Upstate, and essay collections The
Irresponsible Self, The Broken Estate and most
recently Serious Noticing.
We talk about James's role as a book
critic - how and why he does it - about realism, the canon,
'lifeness', sameness, his intro to Serious Noticing, our
shared love of the Russians, looking for great writing everywhere,
Virginia Woolf, Joyce, Zadie Smith; Vasily Grossman's
Stalingrad, what writers do when they walk into a
room...plus, I quote Clifton Fadiman and Henry James at far too
great a length.