Lourdes Garcia-Navarro | WYPR

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Writer Nnedi Okorafor was born and raised in the U.S., but she says her immigrant parents were always talking about Nigeria. "We had the American experience, but they also didn't leave home behind ..." Okorafor says. Nigeria "didn't feel like a place of the past. It felt like a place of the now and the future."

Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan have been to heaven and hell, the past and the future. They've befriended Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc. They've bested the Grim Reaper in a game of Battleship.

Stephen Miller is the architect of Donald Trump's extreme policies on immigration.

And leaked emails have shown him pushing white-power ideology cloaked in pseudo-science.

So how did an affluent kid from the California suburbs — who liked mobster movies and wore gold chains — get on the path that led him to where he is now?

Koko Kondo was 8 months old and with her mother when the first atomic bomb hit her home city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Her father, Methodist minister the Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, had left earlier that morning.

"Suddenly, the whole house crashed," Kondo recounts. She was trapped beneath the rubble with her mother.

When cases of the coronavirus spiked in March, doctors and nurses across the country found themselves overwhelmed with work. The shutdown also took away an important creative outlet for a special breed of medical professional: classical musicians. That's why John Masko, a symphony conductor in Boston, founded the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, giving those in the medical field a chance to perform and connect with each other.

"I kept hearing from musician after musician from our ensemble [about] how much they wish they were playing," Masko says.

Humans have never been particularly good at eradicating entire viruses, and COVID-19 might not be any different.

The employees who work in the poultry plants on the Eastern Shore of Virginia are accustomed to long hours and some of the most grueling work in the country — work that has grown uniquely dangerous amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Many of these workers came to the United States from Guatemala and Mexico, and are not used to having their voices heard. That is, until this past Wednesday, when one of their demands was answered.

So many of us do it: You get into bed, turn off the lights, and look at your phone to check Twitter one more time.

You see that coronavirus infections are up. Maybe your kids can't go back to school. The economy is cratering.

Still, you incessantly scroll though bottomless doom-and-gloom news for hours as you sink into a pool of despair.

As the number of new coronavirus cases spikes in several states across the U.S., governors, county officials and business owners have been crafting laws and guidelines that mandate the use of face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus.

But even a simple cloth face covering has become political.

The settings: A lavish Capri wedding, Italian villas, mansions in the Hamptons and a mega-yacht.

The love interests: George Zao, a Chinese-Australian surfer, and Lucie Tang Churchill of, yes, those Churchills.

The book: Sex and Vanity. And it could only be written by Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, who says he felt like it was time to move on from the decadent, glamorous world of that series.

Padma Lakshmi — the host of the cooking competition Top Chef — is on a new gastronomical journey, taking her to places you've probably heard of, like Chinatown in San Franscisco, and others you may not, like Little Lima in New Jersey.

The new show is called Taste the Nation, and Lakshmi does not shy away from the complicated history and politics that remind us who is really at the center of our favorite "American" dishes: immigrants.

Olivia Monroe has just moved to Los Angeles to open her own law firm.

Max Powell is a U.S. Senator who usually spends his weeks in D.C.

After a meet-cute at a hotel bar, they begin a casual, weekends-only long-distance fling. Or is it more? That's the setup for novelist Jasmine Guillory's new romance Party of Two. And it has some timely themes — Olivia is black, Max is white.

The first sign that something was wrong came with stomach pains. It was April 30, and 9-year-old Kyree McBride wasn't feeling well.

His mother, Tammie Hairston, thought it might have been something that he ate. But soon, young McBride was battling a 102-degree fever.

Worried he may have contracted the coronavirus, Hairston took her son to the hospital. "It was a quick in and out of the emergency room," she said. Doctors told her to take him home and monitor him.

"I wasn't afraid of fighting," Ilhan Omar writes about her childhood in Somalia in her new memoir. "I felt like I was bigger and stronger than everyone else — even if I knew that wasn't really the case."

In This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman, Omar chronicles her childhood in a middle-class family compound in Mogadishu, followed by civil war, four years in a refugee camp, a journey to the United States and ultimately her election to Congress as a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th district.

A young Hillary Rodham, madly in love with the man she met at Yale Law School, abandons her own path and heads to Arkansas. Slowly she starts to uncover Bill Clinton's many infidelities and makes a choice.

What would have happened if Hillary Rodham had never married Bill Clinton?

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

If you are anything like me, this pandemic may have sent you back seeking solace in the films from your childhood, "Mary Poppins," "The Sound Of Music." If so, this voice will be familiar and very, very comforting.

Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Enver Hoxha, Saddam Hussien, and Pol Pot. Sure, they were ruthless leaders — but more importantly, what did they eat?

In the new book How to Feed a Dictator, journalist Witold Szablowski tracks down the chefs who served these five men, to paint intimate portraits of how they were at home and at the table.

There are still many questions about schizophrenia — what it is, what causes it, and how to treat it.

One family has helped researchers take steps forward in attempts to find answers to these questions.

The Galvins seemed like a model for baby-boomer America, 12 children with a military dad and a strict but religious mother growing up in Colorado in the 1960s. But over the years, six of the boys in the family were diagnosed with schizophrenia.

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the country, many churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are temporarily shutting their doors to all public services.

Although there are exemptions for some religious services, congregations are still expected to follow state stay-at-home orders and limitations on gatherings.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

One final thought - if you are anything like me, you've probably been frantically exchanging messages with friends and family and memes and also...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CORONAVIRUS RHAPSODY")

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

As people adjust to this new lockdown normal, they're also trying to hang on to those moments that bring joy and comfort. And so people are celebrating life's big moments, with some adjustments.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Cameron Esposito couldn't have known her memoir Save Yourself would come out in the midst of a global pandemic. But her aptly titled book includes observations that feel eerily pertinent to this unsettling time.

"Humans are scared out of our minds and want to be saved," she writes. " We want to know why we are here, what we are supposed to do, and how to protect ourselves."

Esposito is a comic, writer and actor. When she titled her book, she had in mind queer kids, struggling to understand themselves — as she once did growing up in a strict Catholic household.

Author and blogger Glennon Doyle has something to tell all the women out there trying to put a brave face on a terrible situation, juggling home life with all the other expectations placed on them as the world seems like it's falling apart: "I think every woman on earth needs to lower her expectations for herself, exponentially. At this point, we're not trying to be amazing.

Even as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to spiral upward in countries around the world, a top global health expert says it's not too late to contain the virus.

"As long as you have these discrete outbreaks ... there is the opportunity to control them — to get on top of these and contain them and prevent a lot of disease and ultimately death," says Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the director-general of the World Health Organization. "That's the big message we saw in China — and one of the big surprises."

Jessica Simpson is back in the news, this time in her own words.

In her new memoir, Open Book, Simpson writes honestly about her career as a pop singer, her marriage to and divorce from Nick Lachey, her stint on reality TV, and her time with John Mayer. And she reflects on becoming a fashion mogul with a billion-dollar company.

But she also opens up about sexual abuse she experienced in childhood — and addiction.

Interview Highlights

On why she decided to open up now

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

True story: This past Valentine's Day I was walking out of the office when I overheard a group of younger colleagues saying that they were staying in to watch the sequel to Netflix's To All the Boys I've Loved Before, called P.S. I Still Love You. Then my sister called me to say the very same thing. And I will confess, I watched it too.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

James Taylor has been a household name for a long time now. Taylor was just 20-years-old when he released his self-titled debut in 1968; in the half century since then, he has sold over 100 million albums and cemented his status as one of the most successful American singer-songwriters.

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