Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 158: Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs (plus a bonus “Fall of Food” segment)

This week’s book is the second novel by Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs, which came out earlier this year and has been widely praised. The book was long-listed for the National Book Award, and made a bunch of Best Of 2016 lists, prompting us to talk about how those lists are constructed, and whether they accurately represent a given year’s best literature.


In the second half of the show, we wrap up our Fall of Food by eating some snacks sent to us all the way from Japan. A listener mailed an entire box of treats, including boozy Kit Kats, spongy egg bread, a drink that looks like watery milk, and some dried salted fish.

We’ve also got a sponsor this week. Check out M.B. Manthe’s website, All the Parts of My Life, where you can learn more about her book of poetry and her other publishing ventures. She wanted us to point people in particular to this post, which explains why she’s donating a percentage of the money she makes from book sales to an organization that supports people with depression.

As always, you can stream the new episode below, or you can download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment.

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 158

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Episode 157: Fall of Food, Jack London (“A Piece of Steak”)

This week we continue our exploration of food in literature by reading the classic Jack London story, “A Piece of Steak.” Tom King, an aging boxer, just wants one more payday, and a big, juicy piece of steak. But standing in his way is a much younger, fitter opponent. Will age and experience win out, or will youth have its way? A classic narrative struggle!


In addition to the story, we’ve got some snacks to discuss, all of them new to us: Faygo Red Pop (drink of choice of Juggalos everywhere), Twinkies Chocodiles, plus some truly weird (and disturbing) 7-11 chips.

Also: lots of other stuff! Seriously, it’s good, and interesting, the one of us who writes these recaps is just a little tired here at the end of the semester, and after a three-day parental visit, so maybe use your imagination to fill in the details of how great this week’s episode is. Or even better: give it a listen! You can stream the episode below, or download the mp3 file, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another weekly installment.

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 157:

Download Episode 157 (right-click, save-as)