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Code Switch
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Novelist Mat Johnson Explores The 'Optical Illusion' Of Being Biracial

Mat Johnson is the author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem and The Great Negro Plot as well as several graphic novels including Incognegro, Dark Rain and Right State.
Meera Bowman Johnson

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

Growing up in Philadelphia, Mat Johnson lived mostly with his mother in a black neighborhood. The son of an African-American mother and an Irish-American father, his skin was so light that he might have passed for white. But being biracial meant only one thing back in the '70s: "Um, it meant: black," Johnson says with a laugh. "There wasn't a lot of ambiguity there. I didn't hear the world biracial or didn't think of myself as biracial. And when I did hear that, I reacted to it defensively.

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Sunday Puzzle
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Single-Named Singers From The Present And Past

NPR

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a famous, one-named singer like Madonna or Beyoncé. Identify each name from its anagram, to which one extra letter is added. The singers are a mix of past and present. For example, given "ADS" plus "E," the answer is "Sade."

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Middle East
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

As ISIS Expands Its Control, U.S. Policy Is Questioned

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

With Syria's Army Losing Ground, A Boost From Hezbollah

Mourners attend the May 14 funeral of Hezbollah fighter Ahmad al-Amin in Babliyeh, Lebanon. Hezbollah is fighting alongside the Syrian army and Amin was killed while fighting in Syria's Qalamoun mountains against Nusra Front, al-Qaida's branch in Syria. The Syrian army has suffered multiple setbacks recently, but Hezbollah did help dislodge rebel fighters along the Syria-Lebanon border.
Mohammad Zaatari AP

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

The dirt roads on the border between Syria and Lebanon wind across a mountain range dotted with little wild flowers.

It's windswept and deserted except for a few hilltop outposts with clumps of gray tents, machine-gun nests and flags that fly the green and gold colors of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

These posts are new. In a three-week offensive, Hezbollah has worked with Syrian government forces and other allies to push rebel fighters out of a chunk of territory that the rebels held along this border for two years.

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Asia
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Activists Cross The DMZ In Controversial Peace Demonstration

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Europe
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Macedonia Goes On A Baroque Building Binge

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Fine Art
7:31 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Online Art Sites Aim To Fill Gap Between Etsy And Sotheby's

Why does there seem to be such a vast space between Etsy and blue-chip virtual auction houses like Sotheby's? Where's the website where you can spend $200 or $2,000 on quality art online? New companies are trying to fill that gap.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

Let's say you're not a millionaire but you're still interested in buying affordable art from the comfort of your living room. Where do you find something that is between craft-oriented websites like Etsy and high-end auction houses like Sotheby's? Now, new companies — like Paddle8, Ocula, Artline, Saatchi, Artsy, Amazon Art — are trying to fill the gap.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Friendship, Magic And Danger Blossom In 'Uprooted'

Emily Bogle

I've read a staggering number of excellent books recently, and it's done things to my head. I'm not sure the human brain was meant to read so many brilliant books in such short order — even less sure that swinging my reading-pendulum from Hannu Rajaniemi's collected science fiction stories to Naomi Novik's sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel is at all wise. By all rights I should have tumbled into Uprooted feeling disoriented and confused, dissonant and harsh in my criticism — but no. Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I've Read Yet This Year.

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Book News & Features
5:45 am
Sun May 24, 2015

This Weekend, Navigate The Changing World Of 'Vikram Lall'

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 9:39 am

It's the 1950s in Kenya, and young Vikram Lall is a third-generation Indian boy coming of age during a time of great political unrest, as a group of fighters known as the Mau-Mau try to break free of British rule.

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is his story, told by the adult Vikram, who's living in exile, decades after his African childhood. He's reflecting on his life — a life in which friends were murdered and few could be trusted.

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The Two-Way
5:34 am
Sun May 24, 2015

Controversy Follows As Activists Cross North-South Korean Border

Gloria Steinem and South Korean peace activists march along a military fence at a checkpoint after crossing the border separating North and South Korea.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 7:36 am

The much-publicized peace walk across the inter-Korean border was really a bus ride. South Korean immigration officials insisted that a group of 30 international women, including American feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Prize laureates, take a ride across the border for their own safety.

Still, Steinem said, just getting agreement to cross at all — from two nations still technically at war — counts as a win.

"It was an enormous, enormous triumph," Steinem said, after crossing into the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone.

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