90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing at the 2006 Cologne Literature Festival in Germany. Photo: Elke Wetzig

Doris Lessing at the 2006 Cologne Literature Festival in Germany. Photo: Elke Wetzig

Literary icon Doris Lessing won a Nobel Prize at 87 — and now, at 88, she says she’s written her last book.

It’s called “Alfred & Emily.” It’s about her parents. About their lives as they were — deeply scarred by World War I and played out as British colonials in outback Rhodesia. And about what their lives might have been without the trenches and blood and death of that war.

Deep in her years, Doris Lessing has a reputation these days as a brilliant, prickly, tough customer. But in this book, she is all powerful empathy and imagination. This hour, we reach out to London for a conversation with Doris Lessing.

You can join the conversation. What’s your question for Doris Lessing? Do you have a lifelong relationship with her work? What does she stand for, to you? Did you cheer when she won the Nobel Prize? Have you ever tried to imagine how your parents’ lives might have been different? We look forward to your thoughts.

Guest:

Doris Lessing joins us from London. Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, she is author of “The Golden Notebook,” published in 1962, and more than 50 other books, including novels, story collections, poetry, science fiction, and nonfiction. Her new book is “Alfred & Emily,” which she has announced will be her last.

More links:

Read an excerpt from “Alfred & Emily” at HarperCollins.com.

Dorris Lessing: A Retrospective offers a good biography and information on her works.

You can read her Nobel Lecture, “On not winning the Nobel Prize,” at NobelPrize.org. You can also watch it on video.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • terry ward

    Please please ask Ms. Lessing to discuss The Four Gated City. This book shaped my perception of the world forever!!!!

    Thanks!
    Terry

  • http://none kitty barber

    Is there a way to find one of your short stories, “My Father”? This may not be the correct title, but I’ve had no luck.

    Thanks,
    Kitty

  • Alicia Nabozny

    Can you ask Ms Lessing, whom I’ve just begun reading and respect very much, as an almost 30-year old, unmarried, childless woman, who owns a business and works for a grant office and has gone to school and strives for happiness and self-sufficiency, what are the new responsibilities of women my age to my society, in her perspective? My parents have brought me up to accept responsibility but to do only what makes me happy.

  • Carol Wade

    Thank you so much for this interview with Doris Lessing!

    I have read many of her books, but I loved “African Stories” the best. The book actually fell apart from overuse!

    Thanks!

  • Susanne

    Reading Doris Lessing’s Nobel Lecture was a very moving experience. Thank you for sharing it.

    I was fortunate to grow up someplace with a good public library, and it changed my life profoundly. Is there any particular organization that Ms. Lessing recommends that sends books to people in less wealthy parts of the world and that takes into consideration what sorts of books the locals would actually like to read?

    Thank you.

  • blue betsey

    … And let us not forget Martha Quest, A Proper Marriage, A Ripple From the Storm, Landlocked, and yes finally The Four Gated City…..the five of which comprise Doris Lessing’s “Children of Violence” series which is of great social importance, now as much as then…..of timeless importance…..

  • Sujatha Byravan

    Why can’t I hear all the On Point shows on podcast? The one last week on Indian weddings was online, but not as a podcast. This one with Doris Lessing, is again, not on podcast.
    Sujatha

  • Susan Taylor

    I would like to congratulate Ms Lessing for her wonderful contribution to English Literature.I particularly enjoyed the Canopus series which I devoured one after the other last year. I would love to know a little about her inspiration for this series, which it seems to me, could well have some basis in fact

    I am English but only began to read her books quite recently. I noticed that the series was not in print in USA and my copies were imported from UK.

    Wishing her the best of of everything.

  • Sam

    What a thoroughly nutty and charming lady! She goes on a public forum and calls her own mother a neurotic and then chastises sixties’ feminists as being too mean-spirited.

    I can’t say that I think there’s anything wrong with this but that said, she does definitely epitomize the weird combination of politeness and bluntness that typifies Brits especially of a certain age.

  • Frederic C.

    Thank you Tom Ashbrook for introducing me to Doris Lessing. What an inspiring mind!

    Imagine-a world without the experience of ‘The Great War.’

    What unnecessary calamity may we avoid if only ……

    Niall Ferguson’s “The War of the Worlds” helped open my eyes to the horrors of war. It’s probably that I am more willing to face our past.

    Growing up, I used to be entirely turned off by history and different world views and cultures. Now that I am in my mid-thirties, it seems like the most interesting things are our differences and stories of people’s lives.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

 
Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

More »
Comment
 
Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

More »
Comment