Arts

Arts and culture

Krishnadev Calamur is an editor at NPR.org. His debut novel, Murder in Mumbai, is being published in July.

J.R. Ackerley's Hindoo Holiday is like a perfect summer dessert: light, airy and with that hint of tartness which makes it truly satisfying. I feel guilty every time I read it; not because of the quality of writing, which is superb, but from the endless mirth the characters provide — in their appearances, beliefs and even in the way they speak.

This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club hits the high seas for an adventurous novel called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. The book begins in 1841, and is based on the sprawling true-life tale of Manjiro, whose destiny was almost determined before birth as a son in a long line of fishermen. But a storm blew his life on a new course, and he became one of the first Japanese to set foot in America.

The next installment in NPR's Backseat Book Club heads back to where this all started: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. It was our 2009 interview with Kinney that sparked the idea for a special book club dedicated to kids. On the day before Kinney arrived at our studios, we asked our youngest listeners to send us the questions they would put to the author of the blockbuster series. We were floored by the response. An avalanche of emails hit our inbox from kids all over the country.

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NPR Staff Confesses Love for "Teen" Reads

May 31, 2012

We've all experienced it: the shiver of nervous excitement as each turn of the page unveiled new, provocative ideas.

Pause. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Increasingly, Internet users are working "in the cloud" — creating and sending data that isn't stored on local hard drives. It's easy to imagine our emails and photos swirling around in cyberspace without a physical home — but that's not really how it works. Those files are still stored somewhere, but you can only find them if you know where to look.

Every summer for the past 33 years, a widely scattered group of close friends my husband made in summer camp in the 1960s has rented a beach house on the Jersey Shore for two weeks. I was enfolded into the group some five years into its existence. Apart from the camaraderie — which is precious beyond measure — one of the pleasures of returning to the same place every year lies in observing the subtle changes in the landscape: some new sand on a beach that's suffered erosion; the appearance of a new coffee-and-bagel joint within jogging distance of the rental house.

'Me The People': A Less Than Perfect Parody

May 31, 2012

At the beginning of Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, Kevin Bleyer calls our founding document "a God-sanctioned, fully realized, blessed, immutable, rock-solid, entirely glorified and purely calcified ... piece of [censored]." And despite what our current batch of lawmakers might have you believe, he's not alone in that opinion.

Growing Up And Grasping Gone With The Wind

May 30, 2012

Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones was the 2011 winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

When I was 13 I went to a small, mostly white, Episcopalian, junior high school.

Much of my free time was spent lurking in the library. I'd transferred from a more diverse public school, and as a working-class black kid, I felt out of place.

That's about the time I pulled Gone With the Wind from the library shelf.

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