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A talking pig is one metaphor in a futuristic novel that explores possibility in the face of tragedy

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

How High We Go in the Dark takes place over thousands of years as we see into the past and future and even travel to deep space.

Sequoia Nagamatsu's best-selling book and All Iowa Reads adult selection for 2023 begins in the year 2030, when thawing permafrost - the result of global warming - allows the release of a long-dormant ancient virus. The resulting pandemic spreads first among children and then mutates to affect adults as well.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Nagamatsu about this work of "speculative fiction" that was written before the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to its publishing in 2022 will forever be linked with the pandemic.

She also talks with two expert readers about the chapters that made them laugh, cry, and relate to the themes of grief, humanity, and navigating an uncertain future.


  • Sequoia Nagamatsu, author, associate professor of English, St. Olaf College
  • Lynne S. Nugent, editor, Iowa Review
  • Dean Bakopoulos, associate professor of English, writer-in-residence, Grinnell College
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.