Imani Perry’s new book, “South to America,” joins a tradition of books that travel the South to find keys to the United States: its foundations, its changes and its tensions. Perry, who was born in Alabama, approaches the task from a variety of angles, and discusses some of them on this week’s podcast.
“It includes personal stories,” Perry says. “It is a book about encounters. It is a book about the encounter with history but also with human beings. And as part of it, self-discovery, to try to understand why a Southern identity is so centrally important to me, and why it’s so centrally important to the formation of this country.”
Oliver Roeder visits the podcast to discuss his new book, “Seven Games,” a history of checkers, backgammon, chess, Go, poker, Scrabble and bridge that also asks why we play.
“The simplest answer is, they’re fun,” Roeder says. “We enjoy playing them as a pastime. Another answer is, they’re practice. Games are very simplified, distilled models of the real world in which we live. So for example, a game like poker allows us to practice dealing with uncertainty and hidden information. We don’t know our opponents’ cards. And of course, we see situations like that in real life all the time.”
Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world, and Dwight Garner and Alexandra Jacobs talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week: