Podcasts of the week: on Knausgaard, music and the Raj

Our Struggle may be the “worst thought for a podcast ever conceived”, mentioned John Phipps in The Spectator. In it, our two younger American hosts, Lauren Teixeira and Drew Ohringer, talk about with their company the Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard, and his “six-book memoir-cum-novel-cum-lawsuit-magnet” My Struggle.

It sounds a bit area of interest, however this “hip and humorous” podcast has turn out to be the “breakout hit of the yr in transatlantic literary circles”. Much of Our Struggle’s attraction is that it “conducts its prolonged digressions” in a quintessentially Knausgaardian means: “with a genial unconcern for both the duty at hand or what anybody would possibly give it some thought”.

Indeed, at instances these Knausgaard podcasters appear to wish to discuss every part however Knausgaard – “cigarettes, Constance Garnett, the historical past of literary criticism, to what extent hotness is a operate of tallness” – till the one territory left uncovered is “Knausgaard himself, described solely by means of omission, in damaging define, elevating one more cigarette to his smouldering, craggy face”.

It is “frankly sudden” in these “hypersensitive” instances to come back throughout a present like Raj!, which seems to have as its touchstones the likes of The Far Pavilions, The Man Who Would Be King and Carry On Up the Khyber, mentioned Patricia Nicol in The Sunday Times. This terrific comedy, by Meera Syal and Mark Evans, is about in “India’s deadliest province, West-by-Northwest-and-a-Tiny-Bit-East Punjab”.

Characters embody the British governor Henry Snebworth, his mom, the Dowager Duchess of Scathingtongue, the province’s Maharajah Sunil and his murderous mom the Rajmata. The humour is “broad and tremendously foolish”, with loads of skewering of style clichés. The tempo is brisk, and there are vigorous performances, particularly from Jennifer Saunders and Syal because the rival matriarchs. “Stick with it and it sweeps you alongside.”

The latest Radio 4 four-parter A Life in Music was a “delight”, mentioned Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. Presented by Jude Rogers, the collection, accessible on BBC Sounds, is each a private exploration of her personal musical growth, and an “clever and delicate examination” – with enter from musicians, neuroscientists, psychologists and others – of how music “helps us entry the fun and disasters of who we’re and the place we match into the world”.

Another latest Radio 4 spotlight effectively price looking for out is Adults, Almost, which explores the expertise of lockdown for varied 17- and 18-year-olds. “Lockdown was a reduction… I had a GCSE Spanish oral I hadn’t revised for,” says one, Kezia, cheerfully. “Oh, they have been so upbeat, even after they felt down; how pretty to listen to such pure wit and enjoyment of life.

The Week Unwrapped: Hazardous heat, nuclear fusion and divisive dieting

What does a Pakistani city hitting temperatures too hot for the human body tell us about climate change? Could a new nuclear project provide a breakthrough in clean energy? And is a ‘medieval’ dieting device really so controversial? Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what actually issues from the previous seven days.

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