14 Literary Podcasts That Aren’t Hosted by Three White Guys
Make your commute more literary with our roundup of podcasts that recognize and celebrate diversity
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If you have a long daily commute to work, or generally spend a significant amount time on public transit, you probably understand and appreciate the benefits a good literary podcast. Rather than listening to the sounds of the train, you can put on your headphones and drown out the couple fighting next to you with the sound of a witty voice talking about literature.
But a good literary podcast that is not hosted by a white man — or, even more typically, a trio of white men — is not so easy to find. More often than not, literary podcasts are offering a pretty pale literary landscape; the hosts and of the writers they interview rarely celebrate diversity in the literary world. For those looking to make up for lost time spent on the subway, here is a list of podcasts that do.
Minorities in Publishing, hosted by Electric Literature contributing editor Jennifer Baker, “is a podcast discussing diversity (or lack thereof) in the book publishing industry with other professionals working in-house as well as authors and those in the literary scene.”
In this bi-weekly podcast, poets Danez Smith and Franny Choi “have conversations with the people who have chosen to stand between the world and its articulation into language.” They talk about and with poets who are changing the world of poetry, centering the discussion around the artists’ craft as well as the questions they seek to answer in their art.
Subtitled “A Home for Readers of Diverse Books,” this podcast covers books, both new and old, with an emphasis on subjects and authors of under-represented groups.
“The Black Chick Lit Podcast features in-depth discussions of the latest and greatest works penned by black women. Join Danielle and Mollie as they talk prose, judge every character’s decisions and laugh at their own jokes.” From The Hate U Give to Beloved, from film adaptations to new releases, Danielle and Mollie discuss it all.
“Through their pioneering podcast and social media they promote the message that anyone and everyone can be a reader and Mostly Lit strives to create more inclusive and diverse publishing and media landscape that also reflects that message.” The creator and host, Alex Reads, is a writer and actor whose passion for literature and performance lends itself to an engaging voice in his podcast alongside co-hosts Raifa Rafiq and Derek Owusu. Together, the trio talk about the “multicultural millennial” experience as it pertains to literature, pop-culture and film.
Disclaimer: this podcast is not about food, they just like the pun. Food 4 Thot discusses “sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read & who we like to read.” The thots — I mean hosts — are a poet, an editor, a writer, and a scientist, bringing a wide range of experience to an interesting range of topics.
Every month at Books & Boba, co-hosts Marvin Yueh and Reera Yoo select and highlight one book by an Asian or Asian America author. Their selections, which have included the likes of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, are explored through discussions about the impact they’ve made on the host and interviews with the author. In between episodes about the month’s selection, they host a “Book News” episode, in which they talk about publishing news and new releases in Asian American Literature.
From their bio: “Every fortnight we share popular and unpopular opinions about the books you love.” Hosted by a culture critic, a book blogger, and a writer/editor/translator, this trio of witty voices lends a refreshing, insightful, and even snarky take on news in the African literature scene.
From the website: “In this age of globalization, one of the best ways to preserve the uniqueness of cultures is through the translation and appreciation of international literary works.” The name of this podcast — and the site from which it comes — acknowledges the fact that only around three percent of the books published in the United States are translated from other languages. Hosted by the creators of the site, Chad Post and Tom Roberge, the podcast explores an array of topics about international works, from evaluating different translations to introducing the recipients of the Best Translated Book Award.
Asian American Writers’ Workshop is a national nonprofit committed to telling the stories of Asian Americans. Their podcast has featured beloved writers like Hanya Yanagihara, Roxane Gay, and Claudia Rankine. “We’ve got it all: from avant-garde poetry to post-colonial politics, feminist comics to lyric verse, literary fiction to dispatches from the racial justice left.”
Sometimes talking with friends about books doesn’t yield many new or fresh opinions, especially if your experiences are similar. In this podcast, host Terry Brown aims to bring something different to the bookclub (even if the bookclub consists of just you and your headphones). “Each week Terry and his guest will discuss a piece of literature from the unique perspectives of a person of color.”
“Books, Beats, & Beyond focuses on alternative and marginalized history, progressive issues, and provocative and thought-provoking music.” Taj Salaam — self-described as just your average human who reads an above-average amount — interviews writers, journalists , musicians, scientists, and scholars.
This podcast is devoted exclusively to Canadian literature. Co-host Jen Lee said in an interview with CBC, “The thing about Canadian literature is that people think it’s staid or boring, and that discussions about inclusion or diversity aren’t happening. We try to meander into these conversations, but in a natural and organic fashion. And we are both interested in craft. [Co-host] Dina [del Bucchia], of course, is also a poet and she can ask wonderful questions about poetry that are well above my pay grade. And I care about things like how culture is being represented in our fiction, and people can present stories that we haven’t heard from yet.”
Host Nia King explores intersectionality in the literary and political world through this podcast by seeking out and talking with “political queer artists, trans artists, and artists of color who seem to have figured out how to make art and make rent without compromising their values. Nia King’s trying to figure out if her dream of making a living as an art activist is beyond reach.”