Smarty Pants Podcast

Threepenny Thriller

An 18th-century thief gets a 21st-century update

By Stephanie Bastek | September 28, 2018
From the cover of Confessions of the Fox

Jordy Rosenberg is a transgender writer and scholar who focuses on 18th-century literature and queer/trans theory. His first novel, Confessions of the Fox, smashes those two disciplines together by retelling the story of two notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers: Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess, both real people who lived and breathed the fetid London air. But in Rosenberg’s imagining, Jack is trans and Bess is the daughter of a South Asian sailor and an Englishwoman from the soon-to-be-drained fen. Confessions of the Fox is the title of both the novel and a long-lost manuscript that may or may not be their confessions, discovered by a scholar named Dr. Voth. He obsessively annotates the novel and presents it to us, the reader, with an introduction and footnotes that unspool into a conspiratorial tale of surveillance, resistance, and suspense. Rosenberg joins us on the podcast to talk about what it’s like to rewrite history.

Also, we have a copy of the novel to give away! So please, tell one person that you’re a fan of the podcast, write us a pithy review on iTunes, and email podcast@theamericanscholar.org to tell us you’ve done so for your chance to win a copy of Confessions of the Fox. We will randomly select a winner on October 12.



Go beyond the episode:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman. This episode features the song “Canvasback” by Chad Crouch.

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