Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

"Is there any yoked creature without its private opinions?" asks George Eliot in her novel Middlemarch. Much of Kazuo Ishiguro's fiction is told from the perspective of the ancillary, the dependent, the tangential and functionary: In Never Let Me Go, what begins as a boarding school novel gradually becomes dystopian horror, when we realize it is being narrated by clones being raised to have their organs harvested for the general population.

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At the center of Naima Coster's new novel, What's Mine and Yours are two determined and difficult mothers, equal and opposite forces.

There are scads of talented spy novelists, but the ones who matter capture something essential about their historical moment. Back in the 1930s and '40s, Eric Ambler nailed the sense of ordinary people being caught up in the machinations of great totalitarian powers. A few decades later, John le Carré caught the personal and moral ambiguities of what John F. Kennedy dubbed the "long twilight struggle" of the Cold War.

The sleight-of-hand master explores themes of identity, honesty and the emotional cost of keeping secrets in the memoir, AMORALMAN. DelGaudio's one-man show In & Of Itself is now available on Hulu.


NPR's Scott Simon speak with Eugenia Sweeney, the daughter of Jimmy Sweeney, who was an early unacknowledged influence on Elvis Presley. We also talk with music historian Christopher Kennedy.

The 1st anniversary of lockdowns, shutdowns, and shortages is upon us. To mark it, we've asked people to share their memories of when they realized how much life in the U.S. was about to change.

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It was May of 1989 when John Porcellino ("a 20-year-old, hormonally charged, punk-inspired Rock 'n' Roller," in his own description) got the idea that would become a creative odyssey. "I wanted to publish something that I could make all on my own, that could contain whatever I wanted, that could reflect my whole life," he writes in one of Drawn & Quarterly's new reissues of his work. In a zine called King-Cat Comics and Stories, he chronicled prosaic or absurd experiences that, by '80s standards, were usually considered too trivial to merit documentation.

When Brooklyn librarian Tenzin Kalsang's story time for kids — in which she reads in both Tibetan and English — moved online last year, she was so nervous she couldn't sleep the night before.

"I was like, oh, my goodness, how am I going to do this?" she said. "When I get shy, my face turns really red."

Kalsang was used to reading stories in person at the Brooklyn Public Library.


OK, be honest. When I say craft beer, what comes to mind? A hoppy IPA? Sure. But maybe also, as James Bennett II writes in the digital magazine Eater, a, quote, "white guy swilling beer in specialty stemware in an authentic bar riddled with fugazi bullets in a gentrified neighborhood," unquote. And maybe we'll throw in some plaid shirts and beards along with that.

Swati Mohan was the Guidance and Controls Operations Lead on the NASA Mars 2020 Mission, which successfully landed the newest Mars Rover, Perseverance, on February 18. We've invited Mohan to play a game called "Mars is too fars." Three questions about planets here on Earth: Planet Fitness, Planet Hollywood and "Lonely Planet" travel guides.

Click the audio link above to find out how she does.

In the first chapter of Patricia Engel's third novel, Infinite Country, a 15-year-old girl named Talia breaks free from a nun-managed reform school in the Colombian mountains. In only a few pages, Engel makes abundantly clear that Talia is more than equipped to escape the nuns and make her way back to Bogotá, where she has a plane to catch. Talia was born in the United States, but raised by her father and grandmother in Colombia. Her mother and siblings, Karina and Nando, live in New Jersey, where Talia is finally set to join them.