Danielle Clode, KOALA & Russell Banks, VOYAGER

We remember Russell Banks, who passed away on January 7 at the age of 82. We last spoke with him in 2016, about his memoir Voyager, and re-air that interview today.

But first, we talk with Danielle Clode, award-winning natural history writer, about her new book Koala: A Natural History and an Uncertain Future.

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Danielle Klode
The years 2019 and 2020 saw perhaps the worse fire season in Australia yet. The mega fires were devastating not only for human communities but for Australia’s wildlife. The toll was unimaginable. Among its victims, were many members of that species of charismatic cuteness: the koala. The flames raged across their native eucalyptus forests, devastating their habitat.

Yet koalas are also incredibly resilient. During their long presence on Planet Earth, they’ve come through previous eras of climate chaos, rebounding from population crashes to thrive again. It’s a fascinating story that holds lessons not only for the koala, but also for all the other species it shares the planet with — including us.

Danielle Clode examines that story in her new book Koala: A Natural History and an Uncertain Future. She’s an award winning author of numerous non-fiction books. Her writing includes natural history, essays, science-writing, historical fiction and best-selling children’s books as well as documentaries.

Francesca Remembers Russell Banks
I was saddened to hear that Russell Banks passed away on January 7. When I first came upon his novels—I think The Sweet Hereafter was the first — I was struck that he delved so sensitively into the lives of the working class — a demographic that is all too often overlooked in the catalogs of the major publishing houses.

Later, I had the privilege to interview him about his novels Reserve and Lost Memory of Skin, his collection of short stories, A Permanent Member of the Family, and finally his memoir Voyager.

In memory of his passing, we re-play my conversation with Russell Banks about that memoir.