Fresh Air

Wednesday, 12pm; Monday-Friday, 9pm on IPR News
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

It's pretty rare for a writer to produce a novel that wins the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and, then, a scant three years later, bring out another novel that's even more extraordinary. But, that's what Colson Whitehead has done in following up his 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, with The Nickel Boys.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

And if that enthusiastic review got you interested in the novel, stick around because we're going to hear from the author. FRESH AIR's Dave Davies just recorded this interview with Colson Whitehead.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. "Jazz From Detroit" is the title of a new book by journalist and critic Mark Stryker, who spent a couple of decades covering jazz and its people in that city. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Stryker looks at Detroiters who made their mark in the larger world and a few who stayed behind. Here's Kevin's review.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES CARTER'S "FREE AND EASY")

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Saxophonist James Carter at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit in 2001.

When TV critic Emily Nussbaum was growing up in the '70s, she says television wasn't something to be analyzed, criticized and picked apart.

"Even people who loved to watch TV would put it down," she recalls. "It was considered, at best, a kind of delicious-but-bad-for-you treat, and, at worst, more like chain-smoking, like something you did by yourself that messed up your brain."

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Yiddish 'Fiddler On The Roof' Is A 'Dream Come True' For Lead Actor: A new Yiddish language production of the musical is currently running off-Broadway. Steven Skybell, who plays Tevye, and Joel Grey, who directs the show, explain why the play still resonates.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Although President Trump was forced by the courts a year ago to end his administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, recent reports from the border have described hundreds of children, teens and toddlers being held in squalid conditions at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas.

The Farewell opens with five cheeky words: "based on an actual lie." This funny, melancholy ensemble drama was inspired by an experience that the writer-director Lulu Wang and her family went through years ago, when they were told that Wang's grandmother was terminally ill. They decided to keep her in the dark about her diagnosis, hoping to spare her unnecessary fear and anxiety — an extreme decision, perhaps, but one that the movie suggests is hardly unheard of among Chinese families.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: If you know the show "Fiddler On The Roof," this music will sound familiar. But these lyrics won't.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing in Yiddish).

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Supreme Court handed down two decisions at the end of their session last month that could have a big impact on the outcome of elections in the States. The court ruled it had no power to intervene when states use partisan gerrymandering to draw maps for electoral districts, saying it was an issue for state legislatures and state courts. And in a related case, the court ruled that the Trump administration could not add a citizenship question to the census.

Jessup Collins wants out. The main character of Alexi Zentner's tough new novel, Copperhead, Jessup is a 17-year-old high school football star with a decent shot at getting a college scholarship. That scholarship is essential because Jessup, his mom and his kid sister live paycheck-to-paycheck in a trailer on the outskirts of an upstate New York town that sounds a lot like Ithaca.

In 2015, Travis Rieder, a medical bioethicist with Johns Hopkins University's Berman Institute of Bioethics, was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed his left foot. In the months that followed, he underwent six different surgeries as doctors struggled first to save his foot and then to reconstruct it.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our guest is Willie Nelson, who at age 86, has a summer tour and a new album. We'll listen back to two of Terry's conversations with Willie Nelson, but let's start with our rock critic Ken Tucker and his review of Willie Nelson's new album. It's called "Ride Me Back Home," and Ken says Nelson sounds vigorous and upbeat on an album about aging and the passage of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME ON TIME")

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. On this July Fourth, we're going to play back one of our favorite recent interviews, which also got a big response from listeners. It's the interview I recorded in May with Lizzo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EXACTLY HOW I FEEL")

LIZZO: (Singing) That's exactly how I feel. That's exactly how I feel. That's exactly how I feel. I woke up this morning...

Sarah Jessica Parker has spent much of her acting career exploring what it means to be in a relationship — and to be single. In the HBO series Sex and the City, which ran from 1998 until 2004, she played Carrie Bradshaw, a single writer chronicling her experiences with the Manhattan dating scene. Now, in the HBO comedy series, Divorce, she stars as Frances, a mother of two navigating the dissolution of her marriage.

In the viscerally unnerving films of Ari Aster, there's nothing more horrific than the reality of human grief. His haunted-house thriller, Hereditary, followed a family rocked by traumas so devastating that the eventual scenes of devil-worshipping naked boogeymen almost came as a relief. Aster's new movie, Midsommar, doesn't pack quite as terrifying a knockout punch, but it casts its own weirdly hypnotic spell.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. In the days following the 1986 explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, a military officer working to manage the response from an abandoned hotel nearby noticed a mysterious black carpet in the empty dining hall. When he got closer, he realized it was not a carpet; it was thousands of flies, alive but immobilized by the radiation in the air. That's one of the details you'll find in the book "Midnight In Chernobyl" by our guest, journalist Adam Higginbotham.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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