Ari Shapiro

John Jay Osborn is a screenwriter and novelist who often mines his own life for material.

In 1970, he based the book The Paper Chase on his time in law school — he is also a law professor. His new novel is based on an experience he and his wife had together over 30 years ago: They went to marriage counseling.

Tunde Olaniran is a shapeshifter. He's a Flint, Mich. native who's quickly embedded himself into the Detroit music scene; a singer, rapper, dancer, choreographer, producer and activist. Olaniran's first big single, "Namesake," was an unexpected hit, with lyrics about self love and a video full of explosive choreography.

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Jason Logan is constantly looking at the ground.

"What I like to do is just walk really slowly," he says, eyes down. He's in a dusty, chain-link fence-lined alley in downtown Washington, D.C., with broken bottles and chunks of concrete scattered about. It's right off one of the city's major streets, and the buzz of traffic and wail of sirens fill the air.

"Part of what I do and part of what I'm excited by is just opening up people's eyes to what's going on at their feet," Logan says, scanning. "Kind of through the lens of: Could I make an ink out of that?"

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

The NBC sitcom The Good Place is back for its third season, and fans will be happy to know Tahani al Jamil is as "conceited, but deeply kind, insecure, [and] vainglorious" as ever — in the words of Jameela Jamil, the actress who plays her.

But Jamil's personal story couldn't be more different from her character's. While Tahani is a selfish socialite who does massive charity events largely so she can name-drop celebrities, Jamil is a disability rights advocate and strong voice against body-shaming and impossible beauty standards for women.

There have been a lot of books written about chaos and dysfunction in the Trump White House. The latest book by Michael Lewis looks at parts of the federal government that don't get as much attention, like the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy.

The stories begin during the transition between administrations — and read nearly the same across each government agency.

About 20 years ago, to mark her 60th birthday, Jane Fonda asked for her daughter's help in creating a very short video about her life. Her daughter suggested, "Why don't you just get a chameleon to crawl across the screen?"

"Ouch," Fonda says, recalling the conversation. "She knew what buttons to push and she wasn't wrong."

Fonda has lived many lives. From starlet, to fitness guru, to Vietnam protester — now 80, she's a comedic actress, securing roles at an age when many in Hollywood would have left the screen.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

For nearly two decades Enric Marco was a highly respected figure in Spain, widely known as a Holocaust survivor, Civil War hero and resistance fighter against the Francisco Franco regime. He even held public speaking engagements detailing his experiences in a concentration camp.

But every bit of it was a lie.

In 2005 Marco's masquerade was exposed to the world by historian Benito Bermejo — piquing the interest of novelist Javier Cercas. As Cercas soon discovered, "he had made up everything. Not only about that, I mean — he invented his whole life."

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Emmy- and Oscar-winning actress Sally Field could have written a famous-people-I've-known memoir. But her new book, In Pieces, is instead an intensely personal, vulnerable accounting of her life and career.

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

When the drought in Cape Town, South Africa, was worsening in late 2017, one of the country's leading insurance companies, Sanlam, wanted to help get the word out that people needed to save water.

A few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, composer Gabriel Kahane decided he needed to take a journey. On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the votes were counted, Kahane boarded an Amtrak train in Penn Station in New York City. He left his smartphone behind. He unplugged from the Internet. And he spent the next two weeks riding across the country, talking to people.

Ling Ma was in the last months of a tedious office job when she began writing her first novel. The company was downsizing, and as her coworkers got laid off, the office became "silent and desolate," Ma recalls.

Eventually Ma lost her job, too. The first few weeks were liberating — she called her unemployment check her "arts fellowship" — and she turned her attention to her debut novel.

In America today, communities are sorting themselves into like-minded bubbles. There are red teams and blue teams, where you're less likely to run into people who disagree with you.

Lately, immigration has been a flashpoint for debate.

But in the border town of McAllen, Texas, it's a part of everyday life.

Carlos Garcia is an immigration lawyer. Ben Wilson is a border patrol agent. Garcia fights to keep people in the country — some of the same people Wilson might arrest.

Parker Posey is not the kind of movie star who seems distant and unapproachable. Instead, people shout her most famous lines at her when they pass her on the street. "I've gotten 'Air raid!' for, you know, 25 years," she says, referencing 1993's Dazed and Confused. "And Busy Bee, you know — 'Where's my Busy Bee?' From Best in Show," one of five semi-improvised documentary spoof films she's made with the director Christopher Guest.

Michael Scott Moore is a journalist who traveled to Somalia to write a book about the history of piracy in the Horn of Africa. It did not go as planned.

The title of his new book tells you what happened. It's called The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast.

Moore's ordeal began just after he dropped off a colleague at a small airport in Somalia. As he was heading back into town, his car came upon a truck full of armed men.

Music and politics have always been intertwined, from "Yankee Doodle" to "A Change is Gonna Come." And that's true in Zimbabwe, too — a country that is now facing a historic political transition.

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I'm Ari Shapiro on Capitol Hill, where Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, started the day trying to make a strong statement about the Senate's position on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

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Most media outlets in Zimbabwe are state-run, and working as an independent journalist under Robert Mugabe came with serious risks. NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Dumisani Muleya, editor-in-chief of The Zimbabwe Independent, about his hopes as a journalist now that Mugabe is out of power.

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Hi, Ailsa.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: You know I was just on this big reporting trip in Zimbabwe.

CHANG: Yes. You came back very tan.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Nobody can hear my tan on the radio.

CHANG: (Laughter).

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Florence Welch is no stranger to making music out of life's emotive messes. As the lead vocalist of Florence + The Machine, the British-born indie pop star was introduced to the world stage back in 2008 thanks to "Dog Days Are Over," a primal and joyous romp about sudden, in-the-moment bliss. But her latest album High as Hope, out June 29, pulls from her adolescence. The album gathers up a collection of Welch's intimate teenage memories — both the brave and the embarrassing.

Savanna Madamombe's life is very different than it was a year ago.

Originally from just outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare, Madamombe moved to Manhattan in 2000, where she worked in hotels and restaurants — and watched from afar as her country slowly crumbled under the authoritarian rule of President Robert Mugabe. She felt helpless, like she didn't even recognize Zimbabwe anymore.

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