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Episode 547: Deb Olin Unferth on her chicken liberation novel, Barn 8

By Jasmin and Mariann — July 04, 2020

This week Mariann talks to author and activist Deb Olin Unferth about her new novel, Barn 8, and how she came to the story of auditors going rogue and plotting to free one million chickens. She delves into the research she did leading up to writing the book, how her investigations into the egg industry informed the book, and the inspiration she took from recording the chatter of chickens.

Deb Olin Unferth is the author of six books, including the novel Barn 8, which grew out of research she did on the U.S. egg industry. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times, The Paris Review, Granta, Vice, and McSweeney’s. She has received a Guggenheim fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is an associate professor at the University of Texas in Austin. She also runs the Pen City Writers, a creative writing program for incarcerated writers in south Texas.

In the intro to the show, Jasmin and Mariann present virtually at Main Street Vegan Academy, Jasmin’s interview with Joaquin Phoenix is now available, and Mariann recorded a new Animal Law Podcast episode. We also talk about the new collection of essays Jasmin edited for Encompass and the ongoing quarantine. We also continue our Supporting Vegan Businesses program by shouting out Compton Vegan. Later in the episode, Mariann brings us Rising Anxieties!

This episode is brought to you in part by the Barnard Medical Center. To set up a telehealth appointment today call 202-527-7500 or create an account on

As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.


This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at

Our Hen House is now part of the iROAR podcast network.

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Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.

The Our Hen House theme song is written and performed by the incredible Michael Harren.

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