NPR Staff

Twenty years ago, when the O.J. Simpson verdict was delivered, actor Courtney B. Vance says he celebrated — but he wasn't exactly cheering for the former NFL player.

"I cheered for Emmett Till," — the African-American teenager lynched in Mississippi in 1955 — he says. "I cheered for all the strange fruit that hung on the trees for three centuries."

Writer Yann Martel is best known for his 2001 book Life of Pi, about a teenage boy adrift at sea with a Bengal tiger. Now Martel has a new novel called The High Mountains of Portugal. It's made up of three interlocking stories that cover almost a century. Like Life of Pi, The High Mountains of Portugal is about journeys and it also features an animal (this time a chimpanzee).

To people who live in big cities, the sound of honking, the whir of traffic, the howl of street vendors and the clang of construction can just be background noise.

But for Nigerian sound and video artist Emeka Ogboh, the city is his palette — his symphony of sound. And his compositions can whisk the listener to another time and place.

Over the past 25 years, there's been no more prominent name in gospel music than Kirk Franklin. In that time, the singer has been no stranger to controversy. By merging hip-hop with gospel, he brought the stars and sound of the club scene into the church — and not everyone in the church has been comfortable with that.

As many know, parenting isn't an easy job. It can be hugely frustrating and even lonely trying to figure out what's best for your kid. Should you be a taskmaster or a best friend? Is there a middle ground? The pressures of full-time work and round-the-clock activities can make that question even more challenging to tackle.

Last week, a conversation on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, about reading books with difficult material surrounding race and gender to your children, sparked a lot of criticism.

NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with editor Jeremy Adam Smith about the controversy over A Birthday Cake For George Washington, a children's book that portrays a slave chef and his daughter preparing the desert for the president.

Saul Williams is a man with a message — and he'll will use any medium available to share that message. As a writer and poet he's published five books, including The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop. As an actor he's appeared in film and television, and recently starred in Holler If Ya Hear Me, a broadway musical featuring the music of Tupac Shakur.

Was Andy Warhol a collector of beautiful and mundane things, or was he a full-blown hoarder? Did Abraham Lincoln suffer from melancholia, or was he clinically depressed? Did Albert Einstein have autism? These are the questions journalist Claudia Kalb seeks to answer in her new book, Andy Warhol Was A Hoarder: Inside The Minds Of History's Great Personalities.

Kalb tells NPR's Rachel Martin how she went about diagnosing the historic figures she talks about in her book.

In the winter of 1987, music producer Todd Lockwood was on the lookout for a hot new project to grow his label. Lockwood owned the White Crow recording studio in Burlington, Vt. — and he didn't have to look far to find his bold idea.

That idea? Get Bernie Sanders — then the longtime mayor of Burlington — into the studio to record a few of his favorite songs.

Readers have waited almost 15 years for a second novel from the acclaimed Alexander Chee, following the highly-praised Edinburgh. The wait is over.

The Queen Of The Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery. Lilliet Berne is the most famous soprano in the French opera. She is offered the role of a lifetime: an original part written for her. But then she sees that the opera must be based on a part of her life she's kept under wraps.

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