Threepenny Thriller

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

From the cover of <em>Confessions of the Fox</em>
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 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.

SubscribeiTunes • Feedburner • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast

Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)

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.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


Please enter a valid email address
That address is already in use
The security code entered was incorrect
Thanks for signing up