Ayad Akhtar is a novelist, actor and screenwriter. And when his first play, Disgraced, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013, he also became one of the most talked about new voices in American theater.
Long before this buzz, though, Akhtar grew up in a Muslim family with roots in Pakistan. He mines this background to bring the inner lives and conflicts of Muslim Americans to the stage. His plays often feature cutting dialogue and confrontations steeped in the tension between Islamic tradition and personal evolution.
There are antlers everywhere on the walls of Bryan and Mike McDonel's place near Pine Bluff, Ark. The house is hardly big enough for all their hunting trophies. Both are good shots with their hunting bows; Bryan and Mike, his father, served in the Arkansas National Guard and deployed together to Iraq, twice.
The McDonel family has served in the military for generations. But Bryan, 35, is out of the service now. He is one of thousands of troops and veterans who struggle with addiction to prescription drugs.
Labor tensions are high at the largest port complex in the country — Los Angeles and Long Beach — which handles nearly half of all the cargo coming into the United States.
Short-haul truck drivers are striking. They're the independent, contract truckers who bring the containers off the ships to nearby warehouses for companies like Wal-Mart and Costco. At the twin ports, their numbers hover around 10,000.
Federal officials have announced that a young Mississippi girl, once thought to have been cured of HIV, now once again has detectable levels of the virus. This is a setback not just for the child, but also for hope of eradicating HIV in infants with a potent mix of drugs at birth.
Kansas City now boasts the world's tallest water slide. At about 17 stories high, the slide had been postponed multiple times during construction after tests went bad. As Frank Morris of KCUR reports, the slide is attracting thrill-seekers and naysayers alike.
In advance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Republican Convention, Robert Siegel speaks with The New York Times writer-at-large Sam Tanenhaus. They discuss the impact that the Civil Rights Act, passed earlier that year, had on the nomination of Barry Goldwater.
After a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President Obama addressed the influx of migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. He signaled his openness to Perry's solutions, saying he'd consider deploying the National Guard, but also called on Congress to offer solutions of its own.
For All Things Considered's "Men in America" series, NPR's Kelly McEvers sent this report on Deep Springs College — the all-male college that her husband attended, and where he and McEvers have both taught.
About a hundred years ago, a man named L.L. Nunn was building power plants in the American West. He wanted a place where workers could be educated — and educated people could do work.
News that a Nashville developer is paying $4.4 million for a half-century-old recording studio has sparked a battle in Music City. On one side is singer-songwriter Ben Folds, inspired by the musical history made in that studio. On the other, a trailblazing musician who made that history.
In Colorado, where President Obama's approval rating is low and the Senate race is tight, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall largely bowed out of the spotlight of the president's visit Wednesday.
But as Obama made the rounds speaking about the economy and raising money for Democratic congressional candidates, he also spoke about the women's issues that could be key to Udall's electoral success.
At a morning outdoor rally in Denver's Cheesman Park, Obama emphasized just how much is on the line in the midterms.
Garth Brooks fans abound in Ireland, and now 400,000 of them won't get to the chance to see him perform. Brooks has cancelled five concerts after the Dublin City Council refused to grant him more than three. Melissa Block speaks to Rachel Flaherty of The Irish Times about the controversy.
Proposals to build homes on Ann Arbor's north side are another indication that the area's real estate market is heating up. Toll Brothers is holding a community meeting Thursday night on plans to build 500 residences at Dhu Varren and Nixon.
A federal judge has sentenced former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to 10 years in prison for corruption conviction. The sentence was lighter than what prosecutors were seeking for the former two-term Democrat. NPR's Debbie Elliott covered Nagin's trial earlier this year, and she joins us now to talk about today's sentencing. Debbie, first remind us of what Ray Nagin was convicted of back in February.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block. The district attorney of Brooklyn, New York has announced that his office will not prosecute most low-level marijuana cases. Kenneth Thompson explained his decision by saying, we are pouring money and effort into an endeavor that produces no public safety benefit for the community. And DA Thompson joins me now to talk about the new policy. Welcome to the program.
After a half-century of the War on Poverty, an anti-poverty agency in Ohio has concluded that decades of assistance alone just hasn't changed lives. Instead, it says, the ongoing breakdown of the family is to blame.
"You're seeing the same people come year after year, and in some cases generation to generation. And so then you think, why is that happening?" says Jennifer Jennette, program manager of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties in Ohio.
And now on to Sao Paulo, where NPR South America correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro caught the game at a bar. And, Lourdes, I assume there is collective anguish, albeit very loud anguish right now. What's the mood?
Despite concerns first raised a few years ago, hospitals do not seem to be abusing their electronic data systems to generate bigger bills and boost their income — at least according to authors of a large study released Tuesday. Other leaders in the field say the jury's still out.
In the fight against terrorist organizations, one weapon has been effective in the past: cutting off their funding.
Terrorist groups tend to get their money from outside donors or charities. But the Islamic State, the group that now controls huge areas of Syria and Iraq, doesn't get its money that way. So the methods the U.S. Treasury has used to fight terrorist groups in the past won't work as well.
The images out of Brazil right now are of fans in tears, faces with looks of disbelief, hands covering mouths in shock. In the first of two semifinal World Cup matches, the home team is losing and it's losing big. Germany is leading 5-0. Let's go to NPR's Tom Goldman in Rio de Janeiro. Tom, what's the scene where you are in Rio?
A court ruling in May put Bob Dascola on the ballot in Ann Arbor's third ward primary. It's also left the city without any eligibility requirements. To address this concern City Council member Jane Lumm is proposing a charter amendment to go before voters in November.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health made an unpleasant discovery last week as they cleaned out an old laboratory: The lab contained vials of the smallpox virus, previously unknown to authorities. The vials have since been transferred to a secure lab at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Washington state's first recreational pot shops open for business Tuesday. Voters there legalized the sale of marijuana for non-medical use back in 2012. The Northwest News Network's Austin Jenkins reports on the lengthy process from that vote to the day's store openings.
The beloved tale of the little blue engine — who helps bring a broken-down train of toys to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain — has been chugging along for a very long time. But despite the locomotive's optimistic refrain — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can — the story has a somewhat checkered past: In its tracks, The Little Engine has left both a legal battle and a debate over whether the little blue engine is male or female.