Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?
Our guest is Joe Meno, author of eleven books and most recently, Book of Extraordinary Tragedies, a family saga taking place in Chicago’s south side. Told by twenty year old Aleks, former musical prodigy turned patriarch of his young family, we are shown the limits of human endurance as the family deals with medical crises, desperate poverty, and one heartbreak after another. At the same time there is a real tenderness and creativity underlining these characters, buoying everything with a sense of hope.
Joe chose Jesmyn Ward’s landmark novel, Salvage the Bones, for his episode. Like his own novel, Ward’s book shows a young family in peril and the means they take to survive, but the setting differs entirely. We are taken to rural Mississippi in the days before Hurricane Katrina, as Esch and her brothers live their lives and prepare for the oncoming storm. It’s a haunting, brutal read and one that proves unforgettable for us both.
Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link above, and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms. Reviews on Apple Podcasts and other platforms are also very much appreciated