Lit City

Lit City is an Iowa Public Radio podcast that highlights some of the year’s best fiction and nonfiction. Episodes feature interviews with authors, commentary on their books, and glimpses into the sights, sounds, and history of Iowa’s literary landscape. Join us every Thursday for this ten-episode series created right here in the United States’ only UNESCO City of Literature.

Lit City Episode Ten: Forgotten by History

Apr 13, 2017

Like the title character of her 1933 novel Miss Bishop, Iowa-born author Bess Streeter Aldrich is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Although she wrote 14 novels and countless popular short stories, Aldrich was long forgotten... until recently, that is, when her hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa decided to name an elementary school after her.

Need a New Podcast to Binge? Try IPR's "Lit City"

Apr 7, 2017

The tenth and final episode of the first season of Lit City, Iowa Public Radio’s new book podcast, goes live next Thursday, April 13th. Co-hosted by IPR's Charity Nebbe and UI English Ph.D. student Anna Williams, Lit City revisits author interviews from Talk of Iowa while also exploring the sights and sounds of the United States’ only UNESCO City of Literature – Iowa City.

Lit City Episode Nine: Chasing Spirits

Apr 6, 2017
Michelle Hoover

"Spirits in many different forms" are what you can find in legendary Iowa City writers' bar Dave's Foxhead Pub -- a.k.a. "The Foxhead" -- according to Lauren Haldeman, local poet and developer of the City of Literature web app.

Spirits also happen to be what Michelle Hoover is chasing after in her novel Bottomland, which was inspired by a mysterious family photograph she discovered in adulthood.  

On Being / Flickr

As the bells ring for mid-day mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Iowa City, we talk outside with Lauren Haldeman about the time legendary Southern author Flannery O'Connor spent in Lit City.  

O'Connor may have felt like a fish out of water in the Midwest, but that's not the case for Dean Bakopoulos, Assistant Professor of English at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and author of the novel Summerlong.  Tune in to hear him talk about Kum 'n' Go, his writing habits, and the challenges of setting your work where you live.

Joshua and Lori Kagavi

In this episode of Lit City, we take an irreverent stroll down Iowa City's famed Literary Walk before focusing in on some athletes and artists whose stories haven't yet been commemorated in bronze.

First we hear the tragic stories of some of Iowa's first African-American college football players from Jaime Schultz, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State and author of Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, and Reconciliation in College Football. 

Marketa / Flickr

Why do you read?  

In Episode Six of Lit City we hear answers to this question from some of the City of Literature's most devoted readers... and writers.  We also learn about the mass popularity of the counterculture spirit from Mike Klassen, associate professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and author of the book Hippie Inc.


In Episode Five of Lit City, we talk to Jan Weissmiller, co-owner of famed Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, about the connection between music and literature that was recently brought to light by Bob Dylan's receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature. Then we hear from another musical writer -- John Darnielle of the indie folk band The Mountain Goats -- about his latest novel Universal Harvester.

In Episode Four of Lit City, we begin with a quest to find the most beloved book in the City of Literature. Then we hear from Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, backstage at the Englert Theatre.  Join us as he talks to Charity about his time teaching middle school, his decision to promote diversity through his books, and the expansion of the Rick Riordan universe.

H. Armstrong Roberts / Classic Stock/Corbis

In Episode Three of Lit City, we visit Prairie Lights bookstore and talk with Lauren Haldeman, a local poet who is creating a web app that tracks the footsteps of authors in the City of Literature. Then we'll hear from Erika Janik about her book  Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction. One of those fictional lady detectives, Nancy Drew, was created by Iowa native Millie Benson.

Lit City Episode Two: Doubt and Persistence

Feb 16, 2017
Brandon Chew / NPR

In Episode Two of Lit City, we talk with University of Iowa English Professor Loren Glass about the original site of the experiment known as the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Charity also interviews Ethan Canin, author of  A Doubter's Almanac and F. Wendell Miller Professor of English and Creative Writing at the Workshop. And speaking of doubters, we hear Charity's reaction to Anna's picks for the Lit City theme song.

Lit City: A Debut Episode About a Debut Novel

Feb 10, 2017

Lit City is a new podcast from Iowa Public Radio hosted by Charity Nebbe and Anna Williams. Each episode features some of the best interviews we've done with fiction and nonfiction writers and, along the way, gives listeners a glimpse of Iowa's own City of Literature.

In the first episode we hear from Nathan Hill, Iowa native and debut author of The Nix, which was named a 2016 Notable Book by The New York Times and The Washington Post.