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Arts and culture

In July 2009 Gabriel Buchmann, a Brazilian student researching poverty in Africa, disappeared while on the last leg of a year-long backpacking trip through the continent. Gabriel and the Mountain, a docudrama made by his friend Fellipe Barbosa, lets us know right off the bat that Gabriel's body was found by local villagers in Malawi nineteen days after he'd vanished.

Playwright Arthur Miller was a giant of American theater and a champion of social justice. On stage, his iconic plays Death of a Salesman and All My Sons portrayed the American family with tight bonds and searing discord. Much of the tension he wrote about was between fathers and sons.

As it turns out, Arthur Miller was wracked by family turmoil of his own: He had a son with Down syndrome, and he and his wife kept the boy's existence a secret. That story is now a play, called Fall, that's having its world premiere at Boston's Huntington Theatre.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In 1960, a graduate student at Yerkes Observatory named Carl Sagan had a problem: The temperature on the planet Venus was too high. For decades, scientists had thought that Venus was covered in clouds because it was a watery world, possibly teeming with life, a slightly hotter version of Earth. Venus is nearly the same size as Earth, and a bit closer to the Sun, so it seemed reasonable to think it was just a somewhat balmier version of our own world.

A Place for Us, the debut novel by author Fatima Farheen Mirza, opens with a kind of homecoming. Amar, the youngest child of an Indian American Muslim family, has returned after a three-year absence to attend his oldest sister Hadia's wedding. Layla, the young man's mother, has been looking forward to finally seeing her son, but is worried about how Amar's father, Rafiq, will react: "The only men she had left in this world to love and neither of them knew how to be with one another."

A chat room for bird lovers. A summit on genocide. A superstore where someone's abandoned a baby. These are the settings for just a few of the short stories in A.M.Homes' new collection, Days of Awe — her first in more than 15 years. "I think there's a compression to short stories, and a kind of sense that there's something already happening by the time you get there," she says. "I describe it as, the train has already left the station, and the reader comes in, say, in Chicago.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Yes, About Betty's Boob is a graphic novel about boobs, breasts, gazungas — those fascinating masses that exert such a stubborn influence over the human psyche. It's also about the toll of cancer, the weightiest topic there is. But let's look at something not-so-substantial for a minute. Let's look at line.

Auditions Begin For 'Hamilton' In Puerto Rico

Jun 13, 2018

Composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda begins his search Wednesday for the Puerto Rican cast of his Hamilton production that will take the stage on the storm-battered island in January 2019.

His father, Luis Miranda, Jr., flew to Puerto Rico to help with logistics and tweeted the call for actors: "Seeking men and women, ages 20s-30s, for the non-white characters as written and conceived for the currently running and upcoming Broadway, Chicago and touring productions HAMILTON."

Brad Bird's virtuosic 2004 animated movie The Incredibles is the best superhero film that has ever been made and is likely the best superhero film that ever will be made.

This is a fact — a cold, hard one. The massive, resolute, essential truth of this fact is abiding and irresistible and immovable; it possesses its own magnetic field, its own solar day.

Filmmaker Paul Schrader grew up in a religious Christian household but he swore he'd never make a film about faith. Instead, he went on to work on the screenplays for the seminal 1970s films Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

"I was intoxicated by action and empathy, sex and violence," Schrader says of his early work. These themes, he felt, were "not in the transcendental tool kit."

In Kerala, a tropical slice of a state that runs along India's southwestern coast, people use every part of the coconut tree. The bark is used as firewood. The leaves and husks become mats and rope. The fruit, of course, features heavily in curries, chutneys and stews. The sweet sap can be used to make palm sugar. Or, left to ferment, it can be transformed into a special, mildly alcoholic brew called toddy.

The personal is most definitely political in Rosalie Knecht's crisp, lively and subversive second novel, Who Is Vera Kelly? The author has sly, intelligent fun with the idea that the mindset necessary to live as a closeted queer woman transfers seamlessly to high-stakes espionage work; a spy and a not-yet-out lesbian are both undercover, in a sense — both are accustomed to subverting identity, using coded language, and seeking out covert action.

Editor's note: The poll is now closed! Thanks for voting.

This year's summer poll has me hiding under the bed — whether or not there's a monster there — because, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, we're celebrating horror. And I, your faithful correspondent, was scarred for life by a battered copy of Cujo I found in a summer house when I was a kid — so I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I'm making here to bring you the best of everything creepy, chilling and downright terrifying.

Outlaws. That's what they were considered when they spray-painted walls and bombed subway cars with modern-day hieroglyphics. They worked in alleys and train yards, bridges and tunnels. Now, many of them are being celebrated in a massive warehouse near Los Angeles' Chinatown.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

As a science columnist for The New York Times, Carl Zimmer had reported extensively about genetics and the role gene mutations play in various ailments. After a while, he got to wondering about what secrets his own genetic code holds.

"I wanted to know if there was anything I needed to worry about," Zimmer says. "We all think back to our relatives who got sick and then wonder, 'Is that in me?' "

The Tony Awards felt a little different this year than they have recently. It was a year without a Hamilton or a Dear Evan Hansen; there was no one original, out-of-nowhere show that came into the Tony Awards as a pop phenomenon. In fact, all four of the four nominated musicals were adaptations of existing properties: SpongeBob SquarePants, Disney's Frozen and the non-musical films Mean Girls and The Band's Visit.

"FOR OUR FANS"

That's the phrase that appears on the screen at the close of Sense8's series finale. And, man: truer words.

Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

The largest actors' union in the U.S. has reached a tentative agreement with four television networks to try to eliminate the so-called casting couch, and prevent sexual harassment and assault. SAG-AFTRA struck a new deal with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, which limits private meetings in off-site locations, including hotel rooms and private residences.

Azka Mahmood wakes up at 4 in the morning for Suhoor, the meal Muslims eat before starting their fast. From the fridge, she grabs the barley porridge that she prepared the night before, and wolfs it down with her husband, Tariq. They offer their prayers, then go back to sleep before waking again to get their children ready for school.

Remember A Chorus Line? The immensely popular 1975 musical looked at the stories of some of the people who often work completely anonymously on Broadway.

Tonight, the 2018 Tony Awards — Broadway's highest honors — will be handed out in a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Lead and featured actors in plays and musicals will win prizes.

A Chorus Line was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 1976, and won nine. But the performers in real-life choruses aren't even eligible to win.

What does it take to become an American? In 2015, This American Life told the story of a Somali refugee who was finally issued a visa to come and live in the United States. "This big smile was on my face. I've never had such a big smile," Abdi Nor Iftin said at the time.

The Kiss Quotient is out this week after months of fanfare, and I'm happy to report it absolutely lives up to the buzz. It's a heartening, fun, and all-consuming story in which we fall in love with both an endearing on-the-spectrum econometrician and the sexy biracial male escort she hires to teach her everything about modern dating and sex.

When gunfire broke out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, teacher Melody Herzfeld rushed into action. As shooting went off, she closed the door to her drama classroom, shouted instructions to students on what to do and waited for the rampage to end.

In 1978, Ron Stallworth was working as a detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department when he came across a classified ad to find out more about the Ku Klux Klan — and answered it. Two weeks later, he got a call on the police department's undercover operations line. It was the local KKK organizer. He asked why Stallworth wanted to join the Klan.

"I said I wanted to join because I was a pure, Aryan, white man who was tired of the abuse of the white race by blacks and other minorities," Stallworth recalls.

In 'Death Notice,' The Thrills Don't Quite Translate

Jun 9, 2018

Humor is notoriously liable to get lost in translation, but the monster impact of Scandinavian noir indicates that with sufficient depth and finesse, crime fiction can successfully cross borders. That's the test put to author Zhou Haohui, whose high octane thriller, Death Notice, is doing Dragon Tattoo-level business in China and has just come out in the U.S.

In half a decade, the number of U.S. adults who are reading poetry has nearly doubled.

That's according to the results of a new survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, which announced Thursday that "as a share of the total U.S. adult population, this poetry readership is the highest on record over a 15-year period."

Greek firefighters called to extinguish a blaze in the center of the country found hundreds of artifacts in plastic bags that were stuffed under bushes, according to the culture ministry.

The clay objects included vases, pots and figurines of men, women and animals. They were found north of the village of Megaplatanos in central Greece, the ministry announced.

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