In this episode, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle recommend books that have music at their heart before novelist Jessica Anya Blau stops by to chat about her latest book Mary Jane, the joy of 70s music, Keith Richards and more. You can expect a record store owner who uses music to navigate his breakups, hipster 'audio craftsmen' who are haunted by an eerie jazz tune and its dark history, and a summer nanny whose life is forever altered when a famous rock star and his wife move in next door.
Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
You can't have a conversation about books and music without mentioning this 1995 bestselling exploration of love and pain through pop culture, top ten lists, and the eyes of 35 year old record store owner Rob Fleming.
White Tears by Hari Kunzru
Andrea leaves us on the edge of our seat with this recommendation about two hipster record producers who tape a black man singing a blues song, and live to regret it. A ghost story that's also a meditation on cultural appropriation, and a dark period of musical history, it's like nothing you've ever read before.
Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
If you're looking for the perfect summer read, try this coming of age story about a fourteen year old girl who is thrown into the chaos and drama of the family she works for over the summer in 1970s Baltimore, which only increases as a famous rock star moves into the family home to discreetly receive treatment for his drug addiction.
About Jessica Anya Blau
Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. Her novels have been featured on The Today Show, CNN and NPR, and in Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Bust, Time Out, Oprah Summer Reads and other national publications. Jessica's short stories and essays have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Jessica co-wrote the script for Love on the Run starring Frances Fisher and Steve Howey. She sometimes works as a ghost writer and has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College and The Fashion Institute of Technology. Jessica lives in New York.
Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.