NWPR Books

NWPR Books
12:33 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of Italian Noir

Crime writer Giorgio Scerbanenco was born in Kiev in 1911, grew up in Rome and worked for decades as a journalist in Milan.
Olycom Melville House

Although there's no rigid dividing line, fans of the crime genre generally fall into two camps. There are those who prefer stories which, after titillating us with dark transgressions, end by restoring order — the show Law & Order is an aptly named example. And then there are those who prefer stories which, even after the mystery is solved, leave you swimming in the murk — think Chinatown. This is the male-dominated realm of noir.

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NWPR Books
8:08 am
Wed April 16, 2014

'Before India,' A Young Gandhi Found His Calling In South Africa

Mohandas Gandhi (center) sits with co-workers at his Johannesburg law office in 1902.
AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 1:33 pm

In 1893, in the bustling seaside city of Durban, South Africa — then under British colonial rule — a young lawyer stepped off a ship from India, eager to try his professional luck far away from home. His name was Mohandas Gandhi, and he stayed in that country for more than 20 years before returning home, where he'd make a name for himself as an anti-colonial agitator and social reformer.

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NWPR Books
6:32 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Revisiting Pulitzer Nominees That Touch On Issues Of Race

Washington Post writer Eli Saslow won a Pulitzer Prize for his series on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 9:56 am

This week, Columbia University handed out the Pulitzer Prizes, which are widely considered among the highest honors in journalism. The occasion gives us a good excuse to shout-out some of the finalists and winning entries that touch on issues of race and culture. (Fair warning: These stories are very good journalism done in the service of illuminating some deeply dispiriting realities.)

Speak No Evil

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NWPR Books
4:52 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Book News: J.K. Rowling Gives Glimpse Of Ginny Weasley As An Adult

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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NWPR Books
2:29 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

In Pakistan, Literary Spring Is Both Renaissance And Resistance

Despite enduring violence and instability in Pakistan, artists and authors are thriving on the international stage. For many of them, culture has become a kind of resistance. Above, the 17th century Imperial Mosque in the Old City of Lahore serves as a reminder of the historical legacy and texture of Pakistan's art capital.
Bilal Qureshi/NPR

On one of the first weekends of the Pakistani spring, more than 45,000 people gathered in the city of Lahore for three days of lectures, performances and old-fashioned people watching. The second annual Lahore Literary Festival brought artists from all over the world to Pakistan's cultural capital to share their work — and to celebrate the power of expression.

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NWPR Books
8:44 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Horrors Small And Large Haunt 'Birds'

Courtesy of Random House

Suspense and the stink of sheep permeate All the Birds, Singing in equal measure. In Evie Wyld's gloriously gruesome second novel, shepherd Jake lives alone on a chilly, windswept British island, in a cottage "squat and white like a chalk pebble at the black foot of the downs." Something or someone is killing off her sheep, one by one. And Jake hears scratching, footsteps, coughs in the night.

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NWPR Books
1:42 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

'Grapes Of Wrath' Is 75, But Its Depictions Of Poverty Are Timeless

Dust Bowl farmer drives a tractor with his son near Cland, N.M. (1938). Steinbeck writes: "The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects ... monsters raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country ... through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines."
Dorothea Lange Library of Congress

Much has been said and written about the Dust Bowl, but if you want to get a visceral feel for how it all began and the way it affected the people who experienced it, you need go no further than the opening pages of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath:

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NWPR Books
10:17 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors

According to Dr. Martin Blaser, the overuse of antibiotics has contributed to killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:18 pm

There are lots of theories about why food allergies, asthma, celiac disease and intestinal disorders like Crohn's disease have been on the rise. Dr. Martin Blaser speculates that it may be connected to the overuse of antibiotics, which has resulted in killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.

Blaser is an expert on the human microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in and on the body. In fact, up to 90 percent of all the cells in the human body aren't human at all — they're micro-organisms.

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NWPR Books
6:22 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Kristen Wiig, Alice Munro And Negative Space In Fiction

Kristen Wiig plays Johanna Parry in Hateship Loveship, adapted from an Alice Munro short story.
IFC Films

[This piece discusses the plot of both the Alice Munro short story on which Hateship Loveship is based and the film itself, although it's frankly nothing you can't intuit from the trailer.]

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NWPR Books
4:19 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Book News: 'Captain Underpants' Is 2013's Most Vilified Book

Scholastic Inc.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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