When I joined the team of Little Atoms, I was told by Neil Denny, its head honcho, that the best thing about doing the show is that it’s a great excuse to meet your favourite writers. Well, my favourite writer is John Lanchester. Not because of his ideas, although I like his ideas. Simply because of the way he writes.
Last week Neil and I interviewed John Lanchester at the Resonance studios in London, and the broadcast went out on Friday. You can now download the podcast. In the interview, we talk about the ideas in his most recent book Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay. It’s a great book to read if you want to understand the events that led to the credit crunch, not just because it takes you from financial ideas you might have some hope of understanding (like the balance sheet of a company) all the way to the complex PhD level maths that is the stock-in-trade of the modern quant, but also because it places events in a political context – something most commentators have failed so far to do.
They say you should never meet your heroes, but John turned out to be as eloquent a speaker as he is a writer. The interview was a relaxed, if mildly depressing, way to commence a Tuesday morning. Listening back to it I think it is the best one I’ve been involved with for Little Atoms so far. If you want to read more John Lanchester, check out his restaurant reviews for the Guardian, or look through his archive at the LRB, out of which I’d pick this piece on video games as one of my favourites.