Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

"Furo Wariboko awoke this morning to find that dreams can lose their way and turn up on the wrong side of sleep." That's the first sentence of Blackass, the debut novel from Nigerian author A. Igoni Barrett, and if it sounds familiar, there's a good reason for that. The book is a long, bizarre riff on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, in which a salesman wakes up to find he's become an insect.

Some of the best coffee beans in the world are grown in Africa, and while the number of coffee consumers there is growing, most Africans still don't drink it. That's something Rwanda's government would like to change.

The country's coffee industry, which nearly collapsed after the genocide in 1994, has gradually become one of its largest and most profitable agricultural exports. Rwanda exports 99 percent of its coffee.

Barbershop: Chris Rock, Nina And Kendrick

Mar 5, 2016

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Perhaps you first heard the name Esperanza Spalding in 2011, when an award that many were calling an easy win for Justin Bieber instead went to an eclectic young bass player, singer and composer.

Democrat Cory Booker, formerly the mayor of Newark, is now a senator and a frequent entry on "Washington's Most Eligible Bachelors" lists. We've invited him to play a game called "New Jersey? I prefer Old Jersey!" Three questions about old sports jerseys.

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What would the United States be without its immigrants? Imagine no pizza, no New York City Ballet, no Saul Bellow — and no new waves of talented émigré authors helping us to see American culture from fresh angles. With his first novel, A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman (who came to the United States from Belarus in 1988 when he was nine) staked himself a spot in the impressive lineup of immigrant writers born in the former Soviet Union.

BJ The Chicago Kid has sung backup for Usher, written songs for Mary J. Blige and been sampled by Kanye West. But on his new album, In My Mind, his own voice and lyrics are the main attraction.

Ever wondered what to do with that special memento from a past relationship, that token that's just too challenging to toss, not feasible to return, but yet too painful to hold on to?

And no, we're not talking about your broken heart, although we would all relish a quick fix for such.

While emotional fallout might be the thing we most often wish to be rid of after a relationship has ended, the tangibles — the bits and pieces of a life built together – can also make it challenging to let go and move on.

Author Pat Conroy Dies At 70

Mar 5, 2016

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The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye feels like Singapore between two covers. The pressure-cooker country — tiny and polyglot, globally competitive and politically repressive — seems to have been poured into this dense book. As if to make it an even more authentic representation of its homeland, Charlie Chan Hock Chye has met with governmental opposition: Singapore's National Arts Council withdrew a grant from author Sonny Liew because of the book's "sensitive content."

It seems George Orwell's Big Brother never gets old — and he's still watching us. Right now, he's in Cambridge, Mass., where a theatrical adaptation of Orwell's novel 1984 is on stage at the American Repertory Theatre. The production was a sold-out hit in London.

More Color In Kids' Lit: Your Best Picks

Mar 5, 2016

Last week, Morning Edition's David Greene asked 11-year-old Marley Dias about her quest to find more children's books about black girls.

Her campaign to collect #1000blackgirlbooks has been a big success: Marley now has more than 4,000 books in her library.

Our readers suggested many more titles to add to her list.

Novelist Pat Conroy, who announced last month that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, has died, according to a statement from his publisher. Conroy was 70.

He announced his diagnosis on Facebook almost three weeks ago, saying "I intend to fight it hard."

Today's statement from Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at Doubleday included comments from Conroy's wife and his longtime editor:

With a July 1 deadline looming, Congress was scrambling this week to quickly set a national standard for labeling food products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Parenting can be an angst-ridden journey.

And one bump along the road is that horrible feeling that comes over you when you see your baby break out in hives after eating a particular food – say, peanuts — for the first time. (One of my three kids gave me that kind of scare.)

The concern is real. Between 1997 and 2008, the incidence of peanut and tree nut allergies nearly tripled, according to one published study.

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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ZOOTOPIA")

NATE TORRENCE: (As Clawhauser) You are even cuter than I thought you'd be.

GINNIFER GOODWIN: (As Judy Hopps) You probably didn't know, but, a bunny can call another bunny cute, but when other animals do it it's a little...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As one of the judges for this year's Tiny Desk Contest, I was so inspired by all the incredible entries we received — the level of thought, creativity and care that went into producing them and, of course, the music people made. But I'd be lying if I said that the judging process wasn't, at least sometimes, mind-numbing. After the first 100 or so videos (out of more than six thousand submitted), your eyes and ears start to glaze over.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

A moment of silence, please, for the many fictional lives lost and nonfictional careers sullied in London Has Fallen. It's the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, the gnarlier and less funny of 2013's two (!) Die Hard rip-offs set inside the White House. Olympus was the 36th-highest-grossing film in America that year, but its visible penny-pinching and its modest success abroad have been factored in to make a follow-up as inevitable as Zoolander 2 or Fuller House.

It's always a good week when Audie Cornish or Barrie Hardymon sit in, but this week, with Stephen off finishing the Austin 100 (which is now available for your ears!), they both stepped into the studio with me and Glen Weldon to talk about the end of Downton Abbey, which ends its run on PBS Sunday night — and which, of course, ended its UK run at Christmas.

The wild and furry landscape of Zootopia, Disney's new self-contained world of talking animals, is a remarkable place. In this land, mammals have evolved beyond their traditional predator/prey relationship to form a fully functioning society. Their capital city, Zootropolis, is an intricate network of a dozen ecosystems, from a rainforest to a frozen tundra, and residents of all sizes and species are integrated into daily life. This, as our intrepid bunny hero Officer Judy Hopps constantly asserts, is a place "where anyone can be anything."

Based on The Taliban Shuffle, a 2011 memoir by Chicago Tribune reporter Kim Barker, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opens many fronts on the war in Afghanistan: It's a fish-out-of-water comedy, with 30 Rock's Tina Fey fumbling through a different brand of chaos; a satirical riff on the absurdities of America's military presence in the Middle East; a feminist statement on the marginalization of women in journalism and fundamentalist pockets of Afghanistan; a love story in the heightened arena of Kabul (called "the Kabubble"); and a scathing critique of American comm

In Cemetery of Splendor, a new film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, an older Thai woman, Jen, is led around the grounds of a ramshackle building in provincial Thailand by an ecstatic young psychic named Keng. As they move about, we see only piles of dead leaves and old or broken statues, the detritus of a hospital that was once a school attended by the older woman, which she remembers fondly. The psychic, however, sees a former palace that, it seems, is buried beneath the building. She describes it in such opulent detail that even her somewhat skeptical companion is won over.

What Makes An Idea Go Viral?

Mar 4, 2016

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Seth Godin's TED Talk

Entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin describes how the marketing of ideas has changed since the invention of sliced bread, as well as the type of ideas that stick in consumer's minds.

About Seth Godin

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Yuval Harari's TED Talk

Historian Yuval Harari explains how human imagination powered the growth and spread of homo sapiens around the world.

About Yuval Harari

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