Episode 311 — Patrick Hoffman


Patrick Hoffman is the guest. His debut novel The White Van is now available from Grove/Atlantic.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says

A heist propels Hoffman’s outstanding first novel. Sophia, a Russian émigré, plans to rob a San Francisco branch of US Bank with some inside assistance from its manager, Rada Harkov, and the help of two people recruited (decidedly against their wills) for the job: “the Russian,” another émigré and a black-market trader who owes Sophia money; and Emily, a young woman coerced into helping with drugs and threats (“She had been made into a slave”). The robbery nets some $880,000, a powerful temptation for another major character, Elias, an officer with the SFPD Gang Task Force. An alcoholic, Elias is plagued by money worries. Beyond the engaging plot, the book focuses on people’s behavior in the face of impossible choices. Hoffman, who spent nine years working as a PI in San Francisco, writes with great authority about the city’s seamy side and the grim realities of life for its down-on-their-luck denizens.

Monologue topics: Apple, technology fetishization, camping outside of stores, Ray Rice, public outrage.