NPR Staff

Just two months into 2015, cinematographer Bradford Young is already having a big year.

Two acclaimed movies, Selma and A Most Violent Year, bear his name as Director of Photography.

"It's an interesting time," he laughs.

He sat down for a chat with NPR's Arun Rath, who started by asking about the striking depictions of violence in Selma.

"You have to be very delicate," Young says, "because as much as film has the ability to raise humanity, it also has the ability to put us down."

As a newspaper editor in New Delhi, Raj Kamal Jha has a front row seat to the rapid changes in his hometown. New jobs and a strong economy have made the city a magnet for people across India.

His new novel, She Will Build Him a City, weaves the realities he sees as a journalist and resident in with what he calls the fiction of daily life. "I see more of that in a city like Delhi where you have people coming in every day with hope," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "And hope, in many ways, is fiction. Hope is the fiction you write inside your head and you work towards that."

Julissa Arce was born in Mexico, and came to the United States on a tourist visa when she was 11. It expired a few years later — but Arce didn't leave. Instead, she excelled in high school and college, then secured a job at Goldman Sachs. Her ascent was dramatic: she rose quickly from analyst to associate to vice president.

But Arce was scared to go to work every day, worried that her undocumented status would be uncovered and she'd be escorted out.

For this week's installment of our occasional Weekend Reads series, what's old is new again, and we're talking about a book that was published back in 1965: The Millstone, by Margaret Drabble. It's set in 1960's London and centers on a young lady called Rosamund Stacey, who discovers she's pregnant after a one-night stand. And let's remember, pregnancy out of wedlock was not something that went over well with a lot of people in 1965.

If you want an accurate picture of ethnic and gender diversity in the United States, don't look to Hollywood.

That's the conclusion of the "2015 Hollywood Diversity Report" conducted by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Back in 1987, Nancy Cartwright drove to the FOX Studios lot to try out for a little animated short about a dysfunctional family known as "The Simpsons."

Specifically, she was there to audition for the studious, well-mannered middle child named Lisa.

Mohsin Hamid has been called a water lily for the way he's drifted from place to place. The 43-year-old novelist and essayist, born in Lahore, has established roots, grown and thrived in places as disparate as Pakistan, London, California and New York.

Kazuo Ishiguro has written his first novel in ten years — making it both a literary event and a news story. The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day has gone even deeper into history to write a story that's both one couple's on-the-road tale, and a mystery for a great civilization. It's set in post-Arthurian England — but The Buried Giant is no Camelot, with noble royals, clever sorcerers, strutting steeds, and bold adventures.

A warning to listeners: This conversation may contain some disturbing content.

Andrea Pino was the first person in her family to go to college. When she found out that she had been admitted to the University of North Carolina she was thrilled. "Not only was I going to college — I was going to my dream school," she says. "... I was definitely one of those students that, you know, cried and threw their laptop on the floor and couldn't believe that I was going."

Noah McQueen is part of "My Brother's Keeper," a White House program aimed at young men of color.

His teen years have been rough, and include several arrests and a short period of incarceration. But last week, he was at the White House. The 18-year-old sat down for a StoryCorps interview with President Obama, who wanted to know more about Noah's life.

They hired a car and drove for 10 hours over the most rutted dirt roads you can imagine, dodging motorbikes, pedestrians and overloaded cars all the way.

It was December. NPR producers John Poole and Sami Yenigun had come to see what happens to a village after Ebola has struck.

Barkedu, in Liberia, is a beautiful place, green and forested. Tall hills start to rise near its border with Guinea. Cows and chickens roam around the village, which is built along the Lofa River. A small stream runs through Barkedu, where people bath and wash their clothes.

If you're a longtime Morning Edition listener, you've probably heard commentator Sandip Roy. For years he told stories about his life as an Indian immigrant in California, about trying to celebrate Indian holidays far from home, or the embarrassment of not doing yoga. Then he reported for us on Indian-Americans who were moving back to India — and a few months later, he did it himself.

Writer Elisa Albert believes that the so-called "Mommy Wars" have gone on long enough — they are both a distraction and a cop-out, she says. "It's a way of avoiding the actual issues, which is: Women don't have enough support for any of the choices that we make," Albert tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "We are pitted against each other and ultimately, then, are pitted against ourselves. And everybody is unhappy, and everybody feels judged. It doesn't have to be this way."

Fasten your seat belts, true believers. If you haven't flipped through a comic book in a while, you might be in for quite a surprise come May. The entire Marvel multiverse is collapsing.

Forget about seeing the Wolverine we knew any time soon. And the current Ghost Rider? Before long, his current story line will be gone like, well, a ghost. In the new Marvel universe, coming in May, characters and continuities will be reimagined.

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