Interviews By Topic

Wooden Japanese figures

Author Min Jin Lee grew up Korean-American and she thought she knew her ancestors.  But when she moved to Tokyo, she discovered a history she didn’t know. The history of Koreans in Japan.More

 Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel prize. Here's the best stuff he's said to us.More

Torah and jad - exhibits in Big Synagogue Museum, Wlodawa - Poland. (CC BY 2.5)

The story of one famous mathematician’s obsession with the ancient and mystical and numerical world of the Kabbalah, from Shlomo Maital of the podcast "Israel Story."More

An egg in a nest

Frank Wilczek is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at MIT. He's kind of obsessed, in his own way, with understanding the universe. Specifically, he’s interested in what he calls “the beautiful question." Is the universe naturally, inherently beautiful?More

Plastic crochet corals from the "Crochet Coral Reef" project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring.

What if the geometric structure of the universe has been hidden, for centuries, in crochet? Margaret Wertheim can help you get there with a ball of wool, a crochet hook, and some non-Euclidean geometry.More

"Prayers for the Stolen" by Jennifer Clement

The recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature recommends Jennifer Clement's novel about teenage girls surviving the violence of cartel-controlled Mexican border villages in "Prayers for the Stolen."More

Student activist and Raza studies student Pricila from the film "Precious Knowledge."

Teachers Curtis Acosta and Jose Gonzalez explain the origins of Tucson's Mexican-American Studies program—and how their personal histories in school led them to teach these courses.More

paint brushes

Humanities programs are under siege. Their budgets are getting slashed as critics say schools should focus on job skills. But essayist Mark Slouka believes this is a tragic mistake.More

Ulixes mosaic at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia. 2nd century AD.

Daniel Mendelsohn was surprised—and unnerved—when his 81-year father enrolled in his seminar on "The Odyssey." And then delighted to see how his dad’s cranky comments excited his students. The experience also brought Daniel closer to his dad.More

listening intently

A listener reminds us that it wasn't just teenage boys listening to Pink Floyd in 1973. More

Philip K. Dick sitting in chair

Jonathan Lethem considers Philip K. Dick one of his literary heroes.  Lethem talks about how Dick was able to combine his brilliant imagination with his original mainstream ambitions to produce the groundbreaking literary science fiction that he's known for.More

scene from "Blade Runner 2049"

If you think you haven't seen any movies based on Philip K. Dick's work, you're probably wrong.  David Gill talks about Hollywood's adaptations of Dick's work.More

Blurred, glitchy, technicolor photo of Philip K. Dick's head

During the last two years of his life, Philip K. Dick tried to make sense of a series of strange visionary experiences. Jonathan Lethem explains how these events changed Dick's life.More

Anne R. Dick and Philip K. Dick

Anne R. Dick shares her memories ofher marriage to Philip K. Dick.More

hall of mirrors

The central question of Philip K. Dick's fiction is "What is reality?" Literary critic Umberto Rossi explains that Dick's work often contains many possible realities.More

John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and Peter Norman at the 1968 Olympic games.

Before "taking a knee," there was the fist. More

Flowering headphones

NPR music critic Ann Powers reflects on how Americans have used music to talk around their awkward feelings related to sex and race.More

 "The Film Criticism of Otis Ferguson."

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott recommends the collected writings of film critic Otis Ferguson, a pioneer of the language of film criticism and advocate for all the types of labor that go into filmmaking.More

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