Interviews By Topic

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

 Practice dummy, Cryonics UK standby team training | Tim’s house, Sheffield, UK 2010

Photographer Murray Ballard says he expected a cryonics facility to look like something out of a sci-fi movie scene. But in visiting one, Ballard says he was intrigued by the contrast between such an ambitious endeavor and the somewhat unremarkable architecture and equipment.More

 Social gathering and sharing a meal during Russian Easter honoring the dead, Spring Valley, New Jersey, 1997

Between 1996 and 1998, Bastienne Schmidt and her husband Philippe Cheng traveled throughout the United States photographing the diverse services and ceremonies Americans use to mark the death of family members and friends. According to Cheng, one of the goals was to "show some of the poetry of death and dying in America."More

elderly woman

Nicholas Nixon has devoted a significant amount of his long career — which stretches back to the 1970s — to taking portraits of people who are sick and dying. He continues to work with people coming to the end of their lives, including those in palliative care and hospice.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

spirals

With help from Freud, neuropsychologist Mark Solms locates consciousness in choice.More

Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard has published six volumes of intensely personal descriptions of his daily life. But his “honesty” cost him some of his closest relationships, including his marriage.More

A Zoom holiday is just one option for re-thinking how you celebrate this year.

Priya Parker challenges us to question why we have certain traditions, and to be open to creating new ones that fit this unusual holiday time.More

Terese Marie Mailhot's brave and beautiful memoir about life on a Pacific Northwest reservation is making waves. She originally intended to tell her story as fiction, but ultimately made the difficult decision to write the whole, painful truth.
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The Illustrated London News's illustration of the Christmas Truce

In 1914, over the week leading up to Christmas day, the opposing troops sang carols to each other, played ball and exchanged gifts, in spite of their generals’ wishes. Historian Stanley Weintraub says that the Christmas Truce was a one-time-only event.More

Sondheim smoking

Stephen Sondheim is the reigning genius of musical theater, with credits ranging from "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" to "Sweeney Todd "and "Into the Woods." In this interview from 2013, Sondheim gives Steve Paulson a few pointers on how to write both music and lyrics.More

an illustration of a knight in armor

Every year, at holiday time, "H is for Hawk" author Helen Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world.More

Sondheim smoking

Would Sondheim prefer to work on music or lyrics? What was it like to work on West Side Story? What's his take on musical critics? You can hear that — and a whole lot more — in this extended interview with him from 2013.More

Thank you notes for the nurses and doctors in Wuhan, China.

In Japan, there is a name for extreme gratitude — Naikan. Gregg Krech is dedicated to the practice, and he thinks holidays should be less about running around making everything perfect and more about inner reflection.More

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