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"I think a good novel would be where a bunch of men on a ship are looking for a whale. They look and look, but you know what? They never find him. And you know why they never find him? It doesn't say. The book leaves it up to you, the reader, to decide. Then, at the very end, there's a page you can lick and it tastes like Kool-Aid."

—Jack Handey [Deep Thoughts], Recurring Saturday Night Live comedy bit

 

NPR On Books

Chris Offutt Reveals A Family Secret In 'My Father, The Pornographer'  Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:17:00 -0500
Offutt's late father went from running a small insurance agency to writing more than 400 books, mostly pornography. The writer tells Fresh Air his dad believed he would be "extremely famous" for it. 
'Beholder' Has An Eye For The Absurd, And A Smirk Beneath Its Beard  Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:03:00 -0500
Francis Falbo, sad sack hero of Know Your Beholder, hasn't shaved in weeks. His wife's left him, his mom's died, his band's fallen apart. Good thing his author, Adam Rapp, has kept his sense of humor. 
'The Sellout' Is A Scorchingly Funny Satire On 'Post-Racial' America  Mon, 02 Mar 2015 07:03:16 -0500
Paul Beatty takes no prisoners in this tale of two men trying to save their dying town through provocative moves like reinstituting segregation. Critic Michael Schaub calls it a comic masterpiece. 
For An Author In India's Capital, 'Hope, In Many Ways, Is Fiction'  Sun, 01 Mar 2015 17:19:00 -0500
In his novel She Will Build Him a City, Raj Kamal Jha weaves the reality he sees as a journalist in New Delhi — where many gravitate looking for a better future — into a fictional, magical world. 
Robert Christgau Reviews His Own Life  Sun, 01 Mar 2015 17:19:00 -0500
One of rock music's most loved, feared and prolific scribes, the 72-year-old Christgau says he knew early on that he liked criticism better than journalism: "I didn't want to get into people's faces." 
This Weekend, Experience The Enduring Power Of 'The Millstone'  Sun, 01 Mar 2015 06:04:35 -0500
Margaret Drabble's The Millstone, set in the 1960s, tells the story of a young, unmarried woman who finds herself pregnant. Author Tessa Hadley says this 50-year-old novel is a weekend must-read. 
A 'Show Boat' With An Asian-American Cast Hits The Rocks  Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:03:00 -0500
Racial tensions between blacks and whites are at the heart of the "Ol' Man River" musical. Asian-American actors say it doesn't make sense to get onboard. 
'The Sellout' Is A Profane Riff On Race And Culture  Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:01:44 -0500
In Paul Beatty's new satirical novel, The Sellout, the narrator wants to re-segregate his hometown outside of Los Angeles. NPR's Scott Simon talks to the author about using humor to write about race. 
Pakistani Author Mohsin Hamid And His Roving 'Discontent'  Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:01:00 -0500
Mohsin Hamid combines the personal and political in his new book, Discontent and Its Civilizations. NPR's Scott Simon talks with the Pakistani author about his new collection of essays. 
Uncovering Hidden Black History, On Screen And On The Page  Sat, 28 Feb 2015 07:03:00 -0500
On TV and in the movies, it can sometimes seem like black people only existed during slavery or the civil rights era. K. Tempest Bradford recommends some books that bring hidden history to light. 
The Persistence — And Impermanence — Of Memory In 'The Buried Giant'  Sat, 28 Feb 2015 06:08:00 -0500
Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in a decade follows an old couple on what might be their last journey: Hunting for memories of a son they think they had, in a land covered with memory-shrouding mists. 
Book Review: 'Satin Island' By Tom McCarthy  Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:42:59 -0500
Alan Cheuse reviews a new experimental novel by Tom McCarthy called Satin Island
NPR Bestsellers: Paperback Nonfiction, Week Of February 26, 2015  Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:03:21 -0500
Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, about how human activity is affecting different species, appears at No. 6. 
NPR Bestsellers: Paperback Fiction, Week Of February 26, 2015  Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:03:21 -0500
An isolated bookstore owner starts to change his life after receiving a mysterious package in Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. It appears at No. 7. 
NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction, Week Of February 26, 2015  Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:03:21 -0500
Falconer Helen Macdonald looks back on her decision to train a fierce goshawk in the wake of her father's sudden death in H is for Hawk. It debuts at No. 7.