NPR Staff

In the dirty, crowded, and impoverished immigrant barrios of Buenos Aires of 1913, a 17-year-old girl arrives with little more than some clothes and her grandfather's violin.

Her name is Leda, and she's the character at the heart of Carolina de Robertis' third novel, The Gods of Tango.

Leda, an Italian girl, was sent for by her cousin-husband, but widowed before her ship even lands in South America. She soon finds comfort and excitement in a new kind of music that's filling the city's courtyards, bars and brothels: the tango.

In just over 18 months, Barack Obama will join the ranks of ex-presidents. He'll be 55 when he leaves office, among the youngest to become a former president, alongside Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

President Carter remains a model of what an active, productive life can look like after leaving the White House. He looks back on that life in his new memoir, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, beginning with growing up with black friends in the Jim Crow South.

It was the least suspenseful cliffhanger in the history of cliffs.

Governor Christie has, essentially, been running for higher office for years. But as of Tuesday he is now, officially, a presidential candidate.

This week the Christie Tracker podcast, from WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, headed to Livingston High School for analysis on the announcement.

Cocktail jazz isn't a sound you hear very much in pop music these days. But a duo known as Twin Danger is causing a scene with their self-titled debut album and live shows.

It's a familiar mood for saxophonist Stuart Matthewman; he co-wrote many of the biggest hits for Sade, like "No Ordinary Love" and "Your Love Is King."

Amid celebrations about the Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage, some within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are also raising concerns about what may lie ahead for them.

Two years ago, a wildfire was raging in the foothills of North Arizona. The Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of elite firefighters from Prescott, Ariz., were on the ground, battling the blaze.

Then the weather and the winds shifted, and the two-day-old Yarnell Hill Fire changed course. The commander had a huge decision to make: stay on safe ground, or try to cut off the blaze?

He made the call — and before the day was over, 19 hotshot firefighters were dead. It was one of the deadliest incidents for wildland firefighters in U.S. history.

Mary Anna King grew up in a housing project in southern New Jersey, with her older brother Jacob and struggling parents.

"When you're struggling financially and you're living in poverty ... it takes twice as much effort to do anything," she tells NPR's Eric Westervelt.

Her parents went on to have five more kids, all girls, and despite her mother's best efforts to keep the family together, all five girls were ultimately given up for adoption.

More than 80 Americans have been taken hostage abroad since Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, 30 Americans are being held around the world.

Until this week, the families of those hostages would have faced the threat of prosecution from the U.S. government for trying to pay a ransom to kidnappers.

Step aside, Peter Parker: There's a new Spider-Man joining the Marvel Universe.

According to Sports Illustrated, more than half of all NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. Most of the players come into professional sports totally unequipped to handle their own windfalls like cars, houses and fancy clothes.

Former NBA star Adonal Foyle is trying to help.

He offers financial advice for current and future professional athletes in his book Winning the Money Game: Lessons Learned from the Financial Fouls of Pro Athletes.

By serving in the Army, Staff Sgt. Patricia King is breaking the rules.

King enlisted 1999 under her birth name, Peter. At the beginning of this year, King — a decorated soldier with three deployments to Afghanistan under her belt — started her gender transition.

Another summer, another best-seller from novelist Daniel Silva. In The English Spy, the most famous woman in the world — a titled and gorgeous ex-member of the British royal family — is sunk on her yacht. To track down her killer, British Intelligence needs a little help — actually, a lot of help — from Gabriel Allon, an unassuming art restorer who is also, to those who have to know, a legendary and indispensable Israeli spy.

The Confederate stars and bars have been taken down from flagpoles and store shelves all over the country this week. Calls for their removal follow the June 17 shooting of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Fifty-one years before the deadly shootings at a church in Charleston, S.C., there was another infamous attack on a Southern black church. The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on Sept. 15, 1963.

Four young girls were murdered. Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins were each 14 years old. Denise McNair was 11. Gwen Moten was best friends with Denise.

Even those who didn't live through Nina Simone's heyday can recognize her songs, or at least her voice. Born Eunice Waymon, the passionate performer and activist died in 2003, and today her recordings still loom larger than the rest of her story.

Cyborgs and androids are nowhere to be seen in the new USA show Mr. Robot. Instead, the drama is centered on a very human interior — the mind of Elliot, the unlikely hacker hero. From his first words — "Hello, friend" — his voice-over keeps audiences squarely inside his world.

"Elliot is sort of an internal, isolated guy who can't really interact with people socially, in real life, but online he can hack them and knows all the intimate, private details of them," Sam Esmail, the show's creator and executive producer, tells NPR's Arun Rath.

California's Task Force 2 is ready for anything. As an elite disaster response team based in Los Angeles County, it has to be. But it's not just prepped for disasters at home — it's ready to respond to emergencies halfway around the world as well.

Just days after the devastating April 25 earthquake in Nepal, Task Force 2's firefighters, doctors and engineers were on the ground, helping rescue people.

Mia Alvar was born in the Philippines, but as a small child her family moved to Bahrain. A few years later, they moved again, this time to New York.

The cities of her childhood are the settings in her debut collection of short stories, In The Country. The nine stories feature very different characters, in and outside of the Philippines, who are grappling with some form of exile or emigration.

"Part of the project," she tells NPR's Arun Rath, "was getting behind the official, sometimes sentimental, narrative about overseas Filipino workers."

Reports of the Russian military helping pro-Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine are common — but can be hard to confirm. Russia denies that its soldiers are fighting in Ukraine.

We have heard about how ISIS is recruiting foreign fighters to join its ranks. But it's happening on the other side as well.

Just last week, a Massachusetts man who died fighting against ISIS in Syria was laid to rest.

Last year, a British man who calls himself Macer Gifford left his job as a financial trader in London and went to join the Kurds and fight the self-declared Islamic State in Syria.

Gifford spoke on the condition that NPR not reveal his real name, because he fears for the safety of his family in the UK.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When Sarah Hepola got her very first writing job at The Austin Chronicle, her editor-in-chief gave her an unlikely Christmas gift — a hat that could hold beers. "It was my top boss," Hepola recalls, who had drawn her name in a Secret Santa gift exchange. "He just threw it on my desk and said: 'So you can drink more at work.'"

Hepola's new memoir -- Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget -- is filled with such funny/tragic stories, about drinking until last call, blacking out, and then trying to piece it all together the following day.

For years, Naveed Jamali gave secrets to the Russians, selling out his country for cash.

Or so the Russians thought. In fact, Jamali was working for the FBI by pretending to be a spy for the Russians: a real-life double agent.

Jamali chronicles his experiences in his new book, How To Catch A Russian Spy: The True Story of an American Civilian Turned Double Agent.

The story starts back when Jamali was a child. A well-dressed Russian man entered his parent's bookstore to buy some books.

In his 33 years on earth, rock critic Lester Bangs left behind tens of thousands of pages of writing. He died of a drug overdose in 1982 — but this month, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, Calif., Bangs and his ideas are coming to life on stage in the new one-man play How to Be a Rock Critic.

Emily St. John Mandel's new novel, Station Eleven, opens with a vain actor — and is there really any other kind? — who dies of a heart attack onstage as he plays King Lear in Toronto. His co-stars can't remember if he had a family to notify. But soon, within minutes, the death of one man playing Lear disappears into the vast, mass death of a worldwide plague called the Georgia Flu.

Jazz is all about great collaborations, and in honor of Father's Day this weekend, composer and bassist Christian McBride, host of NPR's Jazz Night In America and a regular All Things Considered guest, stopped by for a conversation about fathers and sons.

Shigeru Miyamoto is the creator of many of Nintendo's iconic video game franchises, including Mario Bros., Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda. NPR's Laura Sydell interviewed the 62-year-old designer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week.

Miyamoto spoke, through an interpreter, about the origins of his famous characters, how his life experiences inspire his creations and why Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, failed to take off.

A new animated feature from Pixar aims to do the near-impossible, as any parent would tell you: get inside the mind of a preteen girl. Inside Out is about an 11-year-old girl named Riley, but the real stars are her emotions — five colorful characters representing joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.

Pete Docter, the creative force behind Up and Monsters, Inc., wrote and directed the film, and actress Amy Poehler plays Joy. Both of them laugh about one of the biggest challenges of the movie: deciding how many emotions to include.

Mario Loiseau works two jobs, including long hours as a parking lot attendant, to help pay for his 9-year-old daughter Mabou's tutoring. Mabou is a science and language prodigy and is already studying college-level algebra.

"So Daddy, how did you feel when I was born?" she asked her father during a recent visit to StoryCorps in New York City.

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