Ari Shapiro

In late December, we sometimes talk to people who've had a very big year, but author N.K. Jemisin has had a very big three years. In 2016, she became the first African-American writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel. She went on to win the same prize last year, and again this year, making her the only author ever to win the award in three consecutive years — for her Broken Earth trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Before the Woolsey Fire raged near Malibu, Calif., in November, hundreds of bikers gathered each weekend at the Rock Store for pancakes or a cup of coffee before riding through the Santa Monica Mountains on the twisty road called "The Snake."

After the fire swept through the area, not much was left standing – except, somewhat miraculously, the popular biker bar.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Carmen Gonzalez is 17 years old, and her life took a turn a couple of years ago when a community newspaper called Boyle Heights Beat showed up at her high school in Los Angeles. They were recruiting students to work as reporters.

Earl Sweatshirt has a lot to process. The Los Angeles rapper has just returned from a three-year break to release his third studio album, Some Rap Songs, last month and he's been taking it all in. All across downtown LA, promo posters of the album read: 'Thebe Kgositsile, professionally known as Earl Sweatshirt, presents the studio album Some Rap Songs.'

When Los Angeles Times photographer Wally Skalij photographed a tiny owl sitting on the beach in Malibu as the flames of the Woolsey Fire burned in the background, he had no idea how many people would connect with the image.

In a windowless classroom at the John J. Moran medium-security prison in Cranston, R.I., three men sit around a table to share how and when they began using opioids.

For Josh, now 39, it was when he was just 13 years old. "I got grounded for a week in my house, so I grabbed a bundle of heroin and just sat inside and sniffed it all week."

"I started using heroin at 19," says Ray, now 23. "I was shooting it. It was with a group of friends that I was working with, doing roof work."

Thousands of content moderators work around the clock to ensure that Facebook, YouTube, Google and other online platforms remain free of toxic content. That can include trolling, sexually explicit photos or videos, violent threats and more.

Unemployment is at nearly 50-year lows and the economy has been adding jobs for 97 straight months. But, 10 years after the financial crisis, the recovery hasn't reached everywhere.

Three members of a Michigan family had all worked at a General Motors plant near Detroit before it closed in 2010, as the economy and the auto industry collapsed around them. All three lost their jobs at the factory. And their lives changed in unexpected ways.

Don Skidmore: GM plant closing was 'like losing your life'

You may know Peter Sagal as the host of the NPR news quiz, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. But he is not here to talk about the show.

He came to talk about his other pursuit — one that pays even less than public radio.

Michael Caine, 85, has been filling our movie screens for a half-century.

His breakout role came in 1966, as the callous heartthrob in Alfie. More than 100 movies later, Caine is better known these days for his supporting roles, such as the fatherly butler in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And I'm Ari Shapiro at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Monday night in the city of Flint, people pulled up in their cars to the Asbury United Methodist Church. They slept in a long line of vehicles, hoping to be near the front when volunteers started handing out pallets of bottled water at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED VOLUNTEER #1: What? You going to put something in the back seat?

KALEKA LEWIS HARRIS: The line was, like, seven or eight blocks. We have about 400 to 600 people to come through the lines.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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.

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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Borders are two-sided. And to tell the full story of what's happening on the U.S.-Mexico border, it helps to look at both sides. So during a reporting trip to South Texas this week, our co-host Ari Shapiro visited the Mexico border town of Matamoros, where people stream into the U.S. every day legally and illegally.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Spanish).

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.

Pages