From Russia to China

Plus: how to solve cancel culture

Fixed It

Episode: "Cancel Culture Is Solvable" | Podcast: Solvable | 18m02s

Interview with a linguistics professor about how a deeper understanding of language use can inform the debate about free speech in the time of cancel culture. The minority of "wokesters" who want to shut down reasonable debate should be treated as sharks, he argues, and metaphorically "bopped on the nose" by those of opposing or challenging views. In this scenario, politely standing up to a call out when a difference of opinion is declared problematic is presented as the way to normalise dissent (18m02s)


Lost Decades

Episode: "The WW2 Masterpiece You Need To Read ᛫ Robert Chandler" | Podcast: Vintage Books | 25m05s

Translator of Vasily Grossman's 1952 novel Stalingrad explains the process of excavating a "definitive" text from multiple drafts and censored versions. Originally published as For A Just Cause, this Russian epic is the first of two stories Grossman wrote about Soviet society in World War Two. The second, Life and Fate, has been widely hailed as a masterpiece, but its prequel did not appear in English until this 2019 translation. Questions of authorial authority and a translator's remit abound here, as well as notes on the craft (25m05s)


The Motherland

Episode: "Jiayang Fan" | Podcast: Longform | 62m18s

Writer Jiayang Fan describes what it is like to become the focus of anti-American nationalist sentiment in China. She and her mother settled in the US when she was seven; Fan is now a well known reporter on Chinese culture and politics. Her mother was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and is now completely paralysed apart from her eyes, so Fan pays for round the clock nursing care. This was disrupted by the pandemic and her public pleas for help went viral to an extremely unpleasant degree in both the US and China (62m18s)

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