Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, took the crown in this year's Miss America beauty pageant. It was the 87th year of the competition, and Davuluri was one of two Asian-Americans in the final round. Although she's just a few days into her reign, Davuluri has already made history. She's the first Indian-American Miss America.
Her win highlights how far the U.S. has come, but also how far the country has to go: Racist tweets flooded in on Twitter right after her victory.
Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 12:33 pm
If you're a dutiful fan of Stephen King's work — myself, I'm an off again, on again follower — you will have read The Shining, King's hit 1977 novel about a haunted resort in the Colorado Rockies. Depending on how recently you immersed yourself in that story, you'll have a sharp or vague recollection of a young child with the power of "shining," or mind-reading mixed with telekinesis.
The House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill Thursday that would chart the course for federal nutrition programs for years to come.
The measure calls for $40 billion in cuts over a decade to the federal food stamp program, now known as SNAP. The measure's Republican backers say it attacks fraud, but advocates say it will hurt the poor.
We've all faked our way through conversations before — whether about books we haven't read, movies we haven't seen or concepts we don't understand. In her new book, I Don't Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn't), Leah Hager Cohen explores moments in history and everyday life when "I don't know" can have a big impact.
A few years ago, Brown University commissioned a study of its own historical connection to the Atlantic slave trade. The report found that the Brown family — the wealthy Rhode Island merchants for whom the university was named — were "not major slave traders, but they were not strangers to the business either."
While NPR's Melissa Block is in Brazil, we'll be showcasing the work of several Brazilian writers. Today: Tatiana Salem Levy, whose short story "Blazing Sun" was featured in the literary magazine Granta. Levy splits her time between Rio de Janeiro, where she's spent most of her life, and Lisbon, where she was born. She calls "Blazing Sun," which is excerpted below, her love letter to Rio.
With a career that spans rock, pop, country and everything in between, Linda Ronstadt knows no genre, only what her voice can accomplish. Her most famous recordings include "Heart Like a Wheel," "Desperado," "Faithless Love," and many more. But last month, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing.
Health, cultural assimilation and language are some of the top concerns on the minds of a group of Latino parents, social media influencers and regular contributors to Tell Me More. Health was something first lady Michelle Obama highlighted in July, when she addressed the National Council of La Raza, the nation's leading Hispanic civil rights organization.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:06 am
Nicholson Baker has become a sort of poet of the particular and the peculiar. His books are filled with people who focus minutely on what captivates them – in other words, obsessives. A positive way of looking at obsession is as passion taken to an extreme. The danger, of course, is that the object of one person's intense fascination — such as the broken shoelaces in his unforgettable first novel, The Mezzanine, or the disquisitions on Debussy, dance music, and drones in his latest, Traveling Sprinkler — may spell another's total snore.
I approached this review with a little bit of dread. How do you write about the iconic novelist Thomas Pynchon, whose books are strange and difficult things, and whose die-hard readers gather online to wax poetic, and use words like Pynchonian, Pynchonalia and Pynchonesque? They are just so into him, and often so articulate about their love. If you read the thoughtful and detailed writing by Pynchon devotees, they make a very persuasive case.
On July 18, 1863, the Union Army's famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — a black military unit — made a desperate assault on Confederate forces at Fort Wagner near Charleston, S.C. In the end, they were unsuccessful and lost almost half of their forces. Escaped slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman bore elegiac eyewitness to the terrible day: "We saw the lightning and that was the guns," she said later.
The French novelist Marcel Proust immortalized the connection between food and memory when the narrator of his novel Remembrances of Things Past bit into a madeleine and was transported to thoughts of his childhood.
But what if that madeleine were poisoned, so to speak?
That is the question underlying Russian American writer Anya von Bremzen's new memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. Though it contains recipes, this is not a cookbook but rather, a history of a family and of Soviet Russia.
These were the words uttered by painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was deeply shaken after he heard the story of a black graffiti artist who was beaten to death by New York City police. Seeing his own life reflected in the death of a fellow artist, Basquiat went on to create Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart),not only to commemorate the young man's death, but also to challenge the state-sanctioned brutality that men of color could face for pursuing their art in public spaces.
You may be hearing a lot about the National Book Awards this week — at least that's what the National Book Foundation hopes. That's because they've made some changes to the awards that they hope will get more people talking about them. Over four days starting Monday, they will roll out their nominees in four different categories — beginning with Young People's Literature and ending Thursday with Fiction.
There was a time when Debora Spar was used to being the only woman in the room. As a professor at Harvard Business School, she was surrounded by what she describes as "alpha men of the academic sort — men with big egos and big attitudes and an awful lot of testosterone."
Then, in 2008, she found herself in the opposite situation: She became the president of Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University, where "there was barely a male in sight."
Ten years ago, literary scholar Carla Kaplan released an acclaimed edition of the letters of Zora Neale Hurston. In the course of researching Hurston's life, Kaplan became curious about the white women who were in Harlem in the same period as Hurston, women who risked family exile and social ostracism to be part of the artistic and political movements of the Harlem Renaissance. Now, Kaplan has published a cultural history of those women called Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance.
Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:41 pm
For the first two millennia of McDonald's Breakfast Menu, very little changed, but the past several months have brought startling reforms. The company introduced the Egg White Delight McMuffin, which has 50 fewer calories and one fewer yellow spot than the regular McMuffin. They stopped slapping you in the face when you try to order the Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait. And now, they bring us the Steak, Egg & Cheese McMuffin.
More than 300 films screened this past week at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Audience Choice Award went to 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen. Host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Linda Holmes and Bob Mondello about what was hot and what was not.
WEEKEND EDITION's travel segment Winging It aims to bring you advice and ideas about different ways to spend your free time and profiles of people embarking of adventures of all kinds. A few months, ago we introduced you to Rebecca Hall. When we spoke with her, Hall was getting ready to set out on an unusual journey - traveling from Greece to Hong Kong on a cargo ship.
The writer Jesmyn Ward lost her brother in a car accident, and she was never the same — but her grief would broaden and her losses compound. First one friend died, then another and another — all young black men, and all of them dead before the age of 30.
In her wrenching new memoir, Men We Reaped, Ward takes us to her hometown of DeLisle, on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. It's a place ravaged by poverty, drugs and routine violence. But even so, the place — and the memory of those she has lost — keeps pulling Ward back.
I fell in love with Shirley Hazzard in 1980, when her great book Transit of Venus came out. I was completely dazzled by the beauty and authority of her writing, and by the effortless way she created this world.
The novel opens with a description of a storm. The air is charged with unthinkable violence, a sense of atmospheric threat which will recur throughout the book:
There are a lot of fascinating details hiding below the surface in the world of color. For instance, scientists once thought the average color of the entire universe was turquoise — until they recalculated and realized it was beige.
In Japan, you wait at a stoplight until it turns from red to blue, even though it's the same green color as American stoplights.
And in World War II, the British painted a whole flotilla of warships pinkish-purple so they'd blend in with the sky at dusk and confuse the Germans. That's right — pink warships.