Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” (2016), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, incorporated elements of magical realism. “The Nickel Boys,” his follow-up to that wildly successful novel, adopts a more plain-spoken, traditional style to tell a story based on a real-life reform school where more than 100 children died between 1913 and 1960.
On this week’s podcast, Whitehead says that the harrowing events of the novel are all too timely, or even timeless.
“If you look at today’s social unrest and division and racial discord, we haven’t gone that far from the Jim Crow days,” he says. “We can delude ourselves that we’re making a lot of progress in terms of race, in terms of social equality, but then of course there are always things that remind you how far we have not come.”
Jon Gertner visits the podcast this week to discuss his new book, “The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey Into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future.” “The Arctic is warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the world,” Gertner says. “If we want to look at the future, we kind of just have to look north, because it’s going twice as fast as the rest of us.”
Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about the books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:
We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.