Scott Simon | WYPR

Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Simon's weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time Out New York, "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." He has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. Simon received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio Earth Summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Noble's Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, with Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. They inspired his New York Times bestseller book Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime. Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Unbroken and Seabiscuit, called the book "poignant, funny, intimate, and unforgettable." Scott Turow called it "a treasure. It is as poignant and tender and wise as Tuesdays with Morrie, with the added virtues of being unflinching and, quite often, very funny." Laurie Halse Anderson just called the book, "Amazing. Breathtaking. Affirming. This book will change lives, restore hopes to the brokenhearted, and remind the rest of us what is truly important." Carlos Lozado of The Washington Post called it, in a rave review, "a book that easily matches its title."

Simon also wrote the book Just Getting Started with Tony Bennett. His latest books is My Cubs: A Love Story about his lifelong fandom of the Chicago Cubs, and their historic World Series victory.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. He is married to Caroline Richard Simon, and their daughters are Elise and Paulina. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking, and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He has thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley Field (low and outside) and appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker. Scott received the Order of Lincoln from the State of Illinois in 2016, the state's highest honor. He adds, "If you prick me, I'll bleed Chicago Cubs blue."

When high school senior and wrestler Brendan Johnston realized he had to face Jaslynn Gallegos, a high school senior, and Angel Rios, a high school junior, in last month's Colorado state wrestling championship, he knew his shot at a state title was over.

Johnston refused to compete against Rios and Gallegos because they are both girls.

Gallegos went on to place fifth in that tournament, and Rios was fourth — marking the first time girls have placed at a Colorado state wrestling tournament.

Etaf Rum's new novel, A Woman is No Man, may violate a code of silence in the tight-knit and often closed Palestinian American community of Brooklyn in which she grew up, and which she left.

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi opens his new memoir, I.M., in the toy aisle at the Avenue U Variety Store. It's the mid-1960s, and he desperately wants a deluxe Barbie set — which comes with a doll and three outfits. Unfortunately for 5-year-old Mizrahi, a Barbie was "the exact thing that would label a kid in those days as someone who was a freak," he says.

In the new horror-thriller film Greta, Frances and the titular Greta find each other in a time-honored old movie way: Frances sees a woman's handbag in a seat on the New York subway. This nice young woman, who has just come to New York, does a nice thing.

She opens the bag, finds a wallet, ignores the money, and returns the bag to its owner, who turns out to be an elegant older woman full of conspicuous kindness and courtesy. They seem happy to find each other.

It's not just the finger of fate that brings Ren and Ji Lin together. It's a finger.

Ren is an 11-year-old houseboy at the deathbed of his master, Dr. MacFarland, who takes a last breath to ask the boy to find the finger amputated from the doctor years before, and to return it to him in his grave within 49 days before his soul disappears.

Ji Lin is a dancehall girl and dressmaker's assistant in 1930s Malaya who has a sudden gift pressed into her hand during a dance: a severed finger in a glass tube.

If you saw some of these paintings — of flowers, fields and foggy townscapes — for sale at a summer art fair, you might point at one to say, "Well, maybe for the guest bathroom."

Five pictures allegedly painted by Adolf Hitler are scheduled for auction at an art house in Nuremberg Saturday. Two dozen more were pulled after German police raided the place on Thursday, on suspicion that a number of the paintings signed, "A. Hitler," are forgeries.

In Holy Lands, Harry Rosenmerck, an aging cardiologist, has left New York and his medical practice to move to Israel — to raise pigs.

His ex-wife, Monique, is battling illness. Their son David has been estranged from Harry since he came out. Their daughter Annabelle is heartsick in Paris. And his rabbi is appalled.

The newest novel by celebrated Chinese novelist Yan Lianke is a poetic nightmare that's being compared with James Joyce's Ulysses.

I don't think Louis C.K. is funny. That's the worst that can be said about a comedian. Not that they're offensive or outrageous. Great comics can offend and outrage people. But a comic who dares to be offensive, but isn't funny, is just a lout.

Louis C.K., who has been on NPR many times, and often extolled as edgy and unafraid, apologized in late 2017 for sexual misconduct with women.

"There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for," he said then. "I will now step back and take a long time to listen."

Mesha Maren's novel Sugar Run opens as Jodi McCarty is getting turned out of prison on parole after serving 18 years for manslaughter.

She shot her girlfriend when she was 17, so Jodi has lived most of her life in prison, and now must make a new life in the real world that she has never known. Soon, she'll meet someone, and they'll try to make a life together in a small West Virginia town where they are outsiders in every way.

Chigozie Obioma's latest novel has an unusual narrator.

Chinonso raises chickens and is profoundly alone in life — until he helps sees a young woman about to hurl herself from a bridge. She is Ndali, who is despondent from a broken engagement. She is drawn to his tenderness and protectiveness; he is drawn to her openness and vulnerability. They become involved.

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The Dakota Winters isn't a novel set on frozen prairies, but in the rarefied precincts of perhaps the most famous apartment house in New York: the Dakota, on the Upper West Side, the place in which luminaries lived — and one of the brightest, John Lennon, also died, shot to death just outside the entrance.

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Anna and the Apocalypse is a [checks notes] Scottish zombie Christmas high school musical.

It drew raves in Great Britain, and has now been released in the United States. It's based on a short film by the writer-director Ryan McHenry, who died of bone cancer at age 27, and did not get to complete this feature-length production.

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This year's list of Rhodes Scholars is remarkable for many reasons.

The "Sitcom King" is back with a series where both the situation and comedy are unexpected.

Chuck Lorre, the mind behind huge hits that include Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, and The Big Bang Theory, has created a series for Netflix. It's set in Hollywood, but is really about the biggest show of all: growing old.

Gina Apostol's new novel, Insurrecto, is about two women on a trip to make a film in the Philippines. Except they wind up seeing different films in the same characters.

Chiara Brasi is an American who wants to make a movie about an event during the Philippine-American War. She hires an interpreter named Magsalin, who takes her to the island of Samar — and specifically to the town of Balangiga, where Philippine rebels were massacred in a retaliation for an attack on U.S. forces in 1901. Magsalin reads Chiara's script and writes a different story.

Natasha Trethewey — former Poet Laureate of the United States — has a new collection of poems out about American history, personal history, and the lives of people who are often overlooked by history and unsung in poetry. It's called Monument, and Trethewey says her own tragic personal history — her mother was murdered by her second husband — is part of what made her a poet. "It feels very much to me that out of the ruin of her life, I was able to fashion a life for myself," she says, "in which I not only survived but also thrived."

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The duo of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell was one of the greatest to ever hit the basketball court.

Together, they won six NBA championships for the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and '60s, and buttressed a dynasty that would win 11 titles in total.

Bob Cousy was the point guard: listed as 6 foot, 1 inch, he was a white man who grew up the son of poor French immigrants to Manhattan. Bill Russell was the center: standing 6 feet, 10 inches tall, he was a black man born in segregated Louisiana.

Joan of Arc is an emblem: a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the inspiration of so many novels and films and George Bernard Shaw's iconic play Saint Joan.

She was also once a real teenage girl. She did farm work. And she had parents, who loved her and were with her until her end — when she was burned at the stake in 1431.

President Trump can be stinging and sarcastic. It's part of his charm, for those who find it charming. He has the audacity of discourtesy, if you please, whether calling a woman "Horseface," as he did this week, or ridiculing African nations as ... something I quoted on the air only once.

But the president reveals a softer side when he talks about strongmen and dictators.

Susan Orlean's new book is like exploring the stacks of a library, where something unexpected and interesting can be discovered on every page. The Library Book tells the story of the 1986 fire that damaged or destroyed more than one million books in Los Angeles' Central Library.

"The fire burned for seven hours," Orlean says. "It reached temperatures of 2,500 degrees. ... A lot of firefighters who I interviewed said it was by far the most challenging, frightening fire that they've ever confronted in their careers."

Alice Walker has a new collection of poems about issues of the world, and those in her own backyard.

The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of the The Color Purple, The Temple of my Familiar and many other beloved works has now issued Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart. The book gathers 69 of her poems in both English and Spanish, the latter courtesy of translator Manuel García Verdecia.

She spoke to NPR about her adopted homes, the root of her poetry and human imperfection.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, native Canadian singer-songwriter, social activist and member of the Cree First Nation, is now in her 70s and has co-authored the first and only authorized biography that tells her story — a story of a woman whose career has stretched from the coffeehouses of Toronto and Greenwich Village in the early 1960s to concert halls around the world. Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography is co-authored with Andrea Warner.

Jose Antonio Vargas is an activist, journalist and filmmaker. In 2008, he was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings.

But the kind of recognition that would make most journalists proud worried Vargas. It could lead to revealing a secret at the heart of his life — a secret that he himself didn't discover until he was 16.

Rick Pitino has an amazing record in college basketball. He coached three different teams — at Providence College, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville — to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. He's a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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