The Faber Podcast

John Lanchester's previous book on money and banking - the bestselling 'Whoops!' - was described by Will Self as 'the routemap to the crazed world of contemporary finance we've all been waiting for'. If 'Whoops!' was the routemap, then his new book, 'How to Speak Money' is the phrasebook. It shows you it's possible to learn to speak the language of money - possible, desirable and perhaps even necessary if we're to avoid feelings of complete helplessness and bafflement when confronted with the big financial forces that shape our lives.

Leading international economist Gerard Lyons spent nearly thirty years working in the City and is now Chief Economic Advisor to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. In 2010 and 2011 Bloomberg ranked him the number one global forecaster out of 400 leading economists, so his views on where we are heading economically are worth listening to. In his new book The Consolations of Economics he lays out his roadmap for an optimistic future. Hear what he has to say in a Faber Podcast recorded at City Hall, with the skyscrapers of the City the ideal backdrop.

Roderick Bailey was able to draw on long-classified documents for his dazzling recreation of the cloak-and-dagger war fought by British secret agents in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) against Mussolini's Fascist Italy during the Second World War, which climaxed in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the whole conflict. Now stationed as a historian at the University of Oxford, Bailey was commissioned by the Cabinet Office to pen the official history of the war waged by the SOE. His account is incredibly pacy and readable, telling the story from both sides and recounting exploits so daring and implausible (for example, a little-known plot to assassinate Il Duce in 1942) that - if this were fiction - they would be dismissed as implausible. Here is the author speaking to the Faber Podcast.

Akhil Sharma was born in New Delhi and emigrated to the US in the late 1970s. Having initially pursued a career in investment banking he came to prominence as a writer in 2001 with his debut novel, An Obedient Father, which won the Hemingway/PEN Award. And in 2007 he was named as one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. So expectations for what Akhil would do next have been high for some time. Family Life, mirroring events in Akhil's own life - his brother suffered a severe head injury and was left brain-damaged - has been a dozen years in the writing, has undergone many drafts and considerable pruning. But it's now with us and being rapturously received on both sides of the Atlantic.

Set in 18th-century London, Maria McCann’s third novel Ace, King, Knave has everything you’d want in a work of historical fiction, and more. Everything from gin and gambling, to the harsh realities of Georgian life, including the burden of disease (which cared little for class or status), the levels of extreme poverty and the plight of women. We first spoke to Maria on the Faber Podcast in 2010 when she published The Wilding. Her new novel, Ace, King, Knave, finds her making a radical move for a historical novelist - switching centuries - and that is one of many topics up for discussion here.

Distinguished writer, essayist and anthologist Ronald Blythe is best-known for his classic portrayal of 1960s Suffolk village life, Akenfield. This year sees publication of a new memoir, The Time by the Sea, in which he remembers life in the mid-1950s and the early years of the Aldeburgh Festival, with a social scene dominated by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, Imogen Holst, John and Christine Nash and many other artists, writers and musicians. Blythe recounts also his discoveries - in the arts, botany, and the history and geography of his native county. It's a wonderfully nostalgic interview recalling a bygone era, recorded in the seclusion of Blythe's remote home on the Essex/Suffolk border.

After concluding his Britten interviews, George Miller had one final, burning Britten-related question, which he put to Colin Matthews. It was about a musical sign that Britten had invented and named after that quintessential East Anglian wading bird, the curlew …

The premise of the fifth of our Benjamin Britten centenary podcasts is a simple one - we ask our contributors (John Bridcut, Colin Matthews and Dobrinka Tabakova) if they could take just one work by Britten to a desert island, what would it be? Given the extensive breadth of Britten's catalogue, this is easier said than done ...

In the fourth of our special podcasts to mark the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, we examine the great British composer's musical legacy - his music, the recordings, his place in the concert hall, and his influence on a younger generation of composers. John Bridcut talks us through the process of rating all of Britten's works for his book 'Essential Britten', and how he used a star-rating system. Colin Matthews, who worked alongside Britten, remembers his sheer professionalism, whilst Dobrinka Tabakova, a representative of younger composers, shares her appreciation of Britten's passion for people and his consideration of the human condition.

Graham Farmelo first appeared on the Faber Podcast in 2009 to tell us about his book on physicist Paul Dirac, The Strangest Man, which went on to earn the author the Costa Biography Award. He’s back to discuss his new book, Churchill’s Bomb, a fascinating and pacy story of how Britain became a nuclear power, seen through the lens of Winston Churchill’s career. Churchill, as we learn, always had an interest in science. He was a devoted reader of H. G. Wells, and Churchill himself pondered the nuclear question in his writing. In 1937 he contemplated the destructive potential that science’s mastery of nature held out – at a time when many scientists still doubted a nuclear bomb was achievable – and asked, ‘Are we fit for it?’ The book is also a story of how the centre of nuclear physics shifted from Britain to the USA, and the coming into being of post-war geopolitics in which nuclear capability would loom so large. (www.faber.co.uk/churchillsbomb)