You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?

Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?

Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...

Don’t get too comfortable: Marlon James on his “African 'Game of Thrones'”

Man-Booker prizewinning author Marlon James in a freewheeling game of verbal ping-pong on African mythology, '80's hip hop, heavy metal, tattoos, and billionaire philanthropy.

Think Again Podcasts

Marlon James with host Jason Gots after the taping.

At this point, it's very rare to read something and find myself thinking: This is something new. This is unlike anything I've ever read before. It doesn't have to be written in hieroglyphs or be some kind of three-dimensional interactive reading experience with pull-out tabs and half the pages upside down. That kind of formal experimentation, in my experience as a reader, more often ends up being gimmicky and annoying than exhilarating. In fact, paradoxically, the "wow this is something new" experience often comes along with a sense that this new thing has somehow always existed, in your dreams if nowhere else.

Marlon James—the Jamaican writer who won the Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings— has done something in his new fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf that's unlike anything I've ever read before. The first book of a trilogy, it's been described as an "African Game of Thrones" and likened in scope to Tolkien's Lord of The Rings. But the stories within stories it tells and the shifts in voice and perspective thrust you into a seething, hallucinatory, morally ambiguous world that's part Ayahuasca dream and part blacklight nightmare, anchored in a rich African mythology that's worlds away from all those elves, wizards, dragons, and goblins—all those well-worn tales of light versus darkness.

Surprise conversation-starters in this episode:

Jeffrey Sachs on whether Jeff Bezos should distribute his Amazon wealth

Damian Echols on tattoos as a lifeline

Related Articles

Frans de Waal (primatologist) – You’re such a social animal

Love, grief, and moral disgust aren't unique to humans. Like chimps, humans sometimes struggle for dominance, but our first impulse is trust and connection. Frans de Waal has spent decades showing that most of what we believe about animals, humans, and the differences between us is wrong.

Think Again Podcasts
  • The lifelong gratitude of a chimp de Waal taught to bottle-feed and adopt an orphan
  • Trump's alpha male display during the 2016 debates
  • How B.F. Skinner screwed up behavioral science for half a century
Keep reading Show less

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Killer robots. Alien invasions. Climate change. Josh Clark of Stuff You Should Know and the new podcast The End of the World thinks a lot these days about existential threats. Believe it or not, he's optimistic.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Could the threat of extinction be humanity's opportunity to get our collective s#*t together?
  • Two centuries since the Enlightenment, the war between reason and belief is still raging. Why?
  • Why is it still hard to explain to some people what a podcast is?

Keep reading Show less
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why hasn't technology given us more freedom?
  • Why is eternal life not desirable?
  • Why don't Universal Basic Income and other forms of redistribution solve the underlying problem?
Keep reading Show less

Connect with us

How to listen

You can listen to Think Again right here on site, or select your podcast app:

Apple Podcast Spotify Stitcher RSS feed