Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 66: Aglaja Veteranyi, Why The Child Is Cooking In The Polenta


We’re joined this week by returning guest Matt Jakubowski–writer, critic, and interviews editor for the international journal Asymptote–to discuss the English translation of Aglala Veteranyi’s Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta. The book, originally published in German, was translated by Vincent Kling, a professor at LaSalle University (and one of Tom’s former teachers).


We discuss the book’s odd but compelling voice, which includes a lot of poetic sentence fragments and line breaks, plus more abundant use of all-caps than Tom and Mike are usually comfortable with. We also wonder about the links between the book’s story and the author’s own life–Veteranyi was born in Bucharest but traveled with her circus-performing family as a girl before finally settling in Switzerland.

We also talk about Matt’s decision to read only women in 2014: what led him to the decision, how the hashtag #ReadWomen2014 took off, and what he’s learned from the project. You can read more about Matt’s resolution for the year here, in a blog post for Asymptote. Finally, we put Matt through a lightning round of questions while outside the window actual lightning explodes across the sky (and a couple times buzzes our recording equipment).

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. We’re also available via Stitcher Radio, Instacast, Downcast, or just about any other podcast application you can find.

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 66 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

3 thoughts on “Episode 66: Aglaja Veteranyi, Why The Child Is Cooking In The Polenta

  1. Great discussion this week, Matt Jakubowski was a really good guest.

    His questions about the disproportionate attention paid to male writers over female inspired me to take a look at the 26 books I’ve read so far this year. Please indulge me why I examine my stats:

    Male authors: 19
    Female authors: 7

    If you had asked me before counting, I would have been confident I was reading at nearly 50/50 male to female ratio, but it is actually nearly 3 male authors to ever 1 female author. No where near as balanced as I’d been telling myself. Oh dear.

    Here are some bonus stats:

    Of 26 books:
    Translations: 5
    Non-fiction: 3
    Short story collections: 6
    Books by dead authors: 7
    Books by Margaret Atwood: 1
    Books by Sylvester Stallone: 1

  2. Just so happy to see we inspired at least one other person to read Rocky II (unless it’s a different Stallone book? Is it a different Stallone book?)

  3. I’m enjoying this episode on a very stormy night in 2019. It’s like a 3D movie. Or smellovision. Or a 2D podcast?

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