NPR Staff

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.

The nine people who were killed in a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday have been identified by the authorities.

In his stand-up, Aziz Ansari often talks about dating. And while he's now happily in a relationship, he's still fascinated with how people find each other — so fascinated, in fact, that he wrote a book about it called Modern Romance. The comic tells NPR's Audie Cornish, "I didn't want this book to be, you know, just for single people ... who are out there now, but I wanted to kind of do an overview of dating and relationships as a whole."

In his 2014 novel Crazy Rich Asians, author Kevin Kwan took readers to Singapore and into the lives of Asia's elite, who live in a world of opulence so extreme, it's absurd.

The novel became an international best-seller, with a movie in the works.

Now those Crazy Rich Asians are back as a mix of old and new characters in Kwan's new novel, China Rich Girlfriend.

When James Harrison was 14, he got really sick. One of his lungs had to be removed, and he needed a lot of blood.

"I was in the hospital for three months and I had 100 stitches," he recalls.

After receiving 13 units — almost 2 gallons — of donated blood, Harrison knew right away that he wanted to give back.

"I was always looking forward to donating, right from the operation, because I don't know how many people it took to save my life," he says. "I never met them, didn't know them."

Kathy Griffin has spent her career going for the joke. The comedian has developed a style that eviscerates celebrities, while sharing delightfully bizarre stories that could only happen in Hollywood.

Along the way, she's won fans who feel she tells it like it is ... and enemies who think she goes too far.

On her new tour, called "Like A Boss," Griffin will be traveling to 80 cities between June and December. And, she tells NPR's Rachel Martin, no topics are off-limits — even Caitlyn Jenner.

The last time Charlie Hunter came to the NPR studios, he brought an eight-string guitar with fanned-out frets that included bass strings. He's now pared down to just seven strings, but his guitar still produces a big, fat sound. Let The Bells Ring On is Hunter's new album, and it features two jazz innovators: trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and drummer Bobby Previte. It's a record that goes every which way, but in places is rooted in gospel and the music on which he grew up.

Israeli writer Etgar Keret is beloved around the world for his funny, haunting and frequently fantastical short stories. But he's hardly one to stick to a single medium: on top of his stories, he's written graphic novels, TV shows, movie scripts and a children's book. And public radio fans may know his work from its numerous appearances on This American Life.

But for 25 years — whether in print, on air, on screen or in comic-book form — he only wrote fiction.

Some college athletes are cheating, and the NCAA is cracking down on universities that enable them to do it. Earlier this year, the NCAA came down hard on Syracuse University for academic fraud.

The death of Kalief Browder shined more harsh light on the American justice system. Browder was held at New York's Rikers Island prison complex for three years after being accused of stealing a backpack at 16. He was never tried, much less convicted, but spent nearly two years in solitary confinement and was savaged by gangs. Browder was finally released with no charges in 2013, but suffered aftereffects from incarceration.

Here's a preposterous idea: Napoleon Bonaparte, defeated at Waterloo, his 15-year run as dictator, conqueror and self-crowned emperor at an end, escapes to the United States. Well, as preposterous as that idea might sound, 200 years ago this month, Napoleon Bonaparte was thinking precisely that thought: Flee to America. How serious was he, and what would he have done if he'd become a Jersey boy? Munro Price is a professor of modern European history at Bradford University in England and the author of Napoleon: End of Glory.

A lot of things seem to come easy for The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon: comedy, music, dancing. Fatherhood didn't. Fallon and his wife struggled with fertility issues for years before they had their two daughters. Now one is almost 2, the other is not yet 1 and both are the inspiration for Fallon's new children's book, Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada.

In 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young woman in California named Alicia Garza wrote an emotional Facebook post that ended with the words "Our Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter." Her friend, Patrisse Cullors, turned that into a hashtag.

Describing what Joshua Cohen's sprawling, comic, tragic new novel is actually about isn't easy. In fact, it's tempting to use the old joke: It's about 600 pages. But Cohen gets there first; he does indeed use that joke in Book of Numbers.

In the privacy of a doctor's office, a patient can ask any question and have it be covered under doctor-patient confidentiality. But what happens when patients want to search possible symptoms of a disease or ailment online?

It's common to search for treatments for a migraine or stomach pain on WebMD, or a flu strain on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. But there's no way to know who else may be privy to that search information. So where do the data go when a patient presses enter?

The roar of a car bomb has been the prelude to Karim Wasfi's performances of late.

Why do we honor combat veterans? In his new novel, Air Force officer Jesse Goolsby asks that question through the stories of three veterans, their experiences in war and their lives back at home.

I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them is grounded in the wars of the last 15 years, but Goolsby points out the action takes place as much in the private lives the men lead in America as it does on the battlefield.

Like it or not, much of what we encounter online is mediated by computer-run algorithms — complex formulas that help determine our Facebook feeds, Netflix recommendations, Spotify playlists or Google ads.

But algorithms, like humans, can make mistakes. Last month, users found the photo-sharing site Flickr's new image-recognition technology was labeling dark-skinned people as "apes" and auto-tagging photos of Nazi concentration camps as "jungle gym" and "sport."

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez wants to change readers' perspective on the Civil War. Her best-selling debut novel, Wench, explored the lives of slave women — not on Southern plantations, but in a resort for slaveowners' mistresses in Ohio. Her new book, Balm, is set in the postwar period, and it's also in an unexpected place: Chicago.

Judy Blume, the incomparable writer for young adults, has a new novel for adult adults, about something totally unexpected: People falling from the sky, and how that can change onlookers for life in ways they only see when they're grown. In the Unlikely Event is a story told by a chorus of voices — most of them young — beginning with Miri and her mother, Rusty, who see a fireball fall from the sky in Elizabeth, N.J. "It's not my story, but I was 14 years old, the winter of 1951-1952 when this bizarre thing happened," Blume tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Many people may not have read the article but millions of people have seen the cover photo for "Call Me Caitlyn," next month's issue of Vanity Fair, which introduces Caitlyn Jenner to the world. She is the Olympic gold medal winner formerly known as Bruce.

But what was the process of getting the cover done? And how did Vanity Fair keep it a secret? Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of the magazine, joined Scott Simon from his office in New York. What follows are highlights of their conversation, edited for clarity and space.

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