Jay Caspian Kang is a writer at large at The New York Times Magazine and a correspondent for Vice News Tonight.

“I make a pretty provocative argument about how Asian American identity doesn’t really exist—how it’s basically just an academic idea, and it’s not lived within the lives of anybody who’s Asian. Like you grow up, you’re Korean, you’re a minority. You don’t have any sort of kinship with, like, Indian kids. You know? And there’s no cultural sharedness where you’re just like, ‘oh yeah…Asia!’”

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Direct download: Ep._257_-_Jay_Kang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11pm EDT

David Gessner is the author of ten books. His latest is Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth.

“The ambition got in my way at first. Because I wanted my stuff to be great, and it froze me up. But later on it was really helpful. I’m startled by the way people don’t, you know, admit [they care] … it seems unlikely people wouldn’t want to be immortal.”

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Direct download: Ep._256_-_David_Gessner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

Matthew Klam is a journalist and fiction writer. His new novel is Who Is Rich?.

“The New Yorker had hyped me with this “20 Under 40” thing…and when the tenth anniversary of that list [came], somebody wrote an article about it. And they found everybody in it, and I was the only one who hadn’t done anything since then, according to them. And the article, it was a little paragraph or two, it ended with ‘poor Matthew Klam.’”

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Direct download: Ep._255_-_Matthew_Klam.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02pm EDT

Maggie Haberman covers the White House for The New York Times.

“If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I'm being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about [the stakes]. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.”

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Direct download: Ep._254_-_Maggie_Haberman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24am EDT

Steven Levy writes for Wired, where he is the editor of Backchannel.

“It’s about people. Travis Kalanick’s foibles aren’t because he’s a technology executive. It’s because he’s Travis Kalanick. That’s the way he is. There is a certain strain in Silicon Valley, which rewards totally driven people, but that is humanity. And advanced technology is no guarantee—and as a matter of fact I don’t think it’ll do anything—from stopping ill-intentioned people from doing ill-intentioned things.”

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Direct download: Steve_Levy_Full_Episode_EDIT_2_-_NO_POST.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:46pm EDT

Mark Bowden is a journalist and the author of 13 books, including Black Hawk Down and his latest, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

“My goal is never to condemn someone that I’m writing about. It’s always to understand them. And that, to me, is far more interesting than passing judgment on them. I want you to read about Che Thi Mung, an 18-year-old village girl, who was selling hats on corners in Hue in the daytime and going home and sharpening spikes to go into booby traps to try and kill American soldiers and ARVN soldiers in the evening. I want to understand why she would do that, why she would be so motivated to do that. And I think I did.”

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Direct download: Mark_Bowden_Full_Episode_EDIT_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

Brian Reed, a senior producer at This American Life, is the host of S-Town.

“It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.”

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Direct download: LF170704_Reed_RERUN2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm EDT

Ginger Thompson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica. Her most recent article is "How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico."

“How many times have I written the phrase ‘a town that was controlled by drug traffickers?' I had no idea what that really meant. What does it mean to live in a town that’s controlled by drug traffickers? And how does it get that way? One of the things I was hoping that we could do by having the people who actually lived through that explain it to us was that—to bring you close to that and say, ‘No, here’s what that means.’”

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Direct download: Ginger_Thompson_Full_Episode_EDIT_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm EDT

Patricia Lockwood is a poet and essayist. Her new book is Priestdaddy: A Memoir.

“[Prose writing is] strange to me as a poet. I’m like, ‘Well I guess I’ll tell you just what happened then.’ But the humor has to be there as well. Because in my family household…the absurdity or the surrealism that we have is in reaction to the craziness of the household. So something like your underwear-clad father with his hand in a vat of pickles, sitting in a room full of $10,000 guitars and telling you that he can’t afford to send you to college—that’s bad. That’s a sad scene. But it’s also totally a lunatic scene. It’s, just the very fact of it, all these accoutrements, all the elements of the scene—they are funny.”

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Direct download: Ep._250_-_Patricia_Lockwood_-_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

John Grisham is the author of 38 books, including his latest novel, Camino Island.

A Time to Kill didn’t sell. It just didn’t sell. There was never any talk of going back for a second printing. No talk of paper back. No foreign deal. It was a flop. And I told my wife, I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna do it one more time. I’m gonna write one more book…hopefully something more commercial, more accessible, more popular. If this doesn’t work, forget this career. Forget this hobby. I’m just gonna be a lawyer and get on with it.”

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Direct download: Ep._249_-_John_Grisham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT