Stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia gained fame with his wry and witty monologues on This American Life. Now, along with TAL host Ira Glass, he's made one of his stories into a new movie called Sleepwalk with Me.
Most people know Molly Ringwald from her star turns in John Hughes' signature teen comic dramas from the 1980s, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.
And Ringwald is still acting — she currently plays the mother in the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But she's also turned her hand to writing. Her new book — and first novel — is called When It Happens to You.
When we first meet Nasser Ali, the protagonist of Chicken with Plums, he's a mess. He loves his children, but doesn't support them. He has never really loved his wife — though he likes a dish she makes, chicken with plums. He was an accomplished violinist, but his wife shatters his violin to hurt him; she believes his instrument is the only thing that he truly loves.
As Nasser Ali peels back his life, in 1958 Tehran, we begin to learn about the broken heart that's beneath his sadness, madness and flights of genius.
Cambodian author Vaddey Ratner was just a child when the Khmer Rouge came banging on the doors of her aristocratic family's compound in Phnom Penh. She's fictionalized that experience — and the years of hardship that followed — in her new novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan.
She survived — and so does her heroine, Raami — in part because she remembered the poems and stories her father loved.
This interview was originally broadcast on July 26, 2011. Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All the Time is now out in paperback.
Knockemstiff, Ohio, is a tiny hamlet in southern Ohio. In the 1950s, Knockemstiff had three stores, a bar and a population of about 450 people. Most of those people, says fiction writer Donald Ray Pollock, were "connected by blood through one godforsaken calamity or another."
This interview was originally broadcast on May 21, 2012. Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator is now out on DVD.
Actor and writer Sacha Baron Cohen is famous for taking his characters — Ali G., Borat, Bruno — into the real world, interacting with people who have no idea that they're dealing with a fictional character. But his new movie, The Dictator, is a scripted comedy about a tyrant on the loose in New York.
Arik, the 16-year-old Israeli at the center of The Matchmaker, doesn't get why everyone keeps talking about love. It's the summer of 1968 in Haifa, and though the American summer of love is just a recent memory, Arik (Tuval Shafir) couldn't care less — he finds war immensely more interesting.
The "know your farmer" concept may soon apply to the folks growing your coffee, too.
Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.