Ari Shapiro

For the longest time, people in Nashville knew Chris Stapleton as a songwriter who wrote hits for some of the biggest names in country music: Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and more.

As millions of people have fled Syria, they haven't been able to take much with them on their journey. Families often had to abandon the things that reminded them of home. So the recipes that bring them back to the places they left behind are precious.

Dina Mousawi and Itab Azzam are the authors of a new cookbook, Our Syria: Recipes From Home. For the book they interviewed Syrian refugees scattered around Europe and the Middle East. The book gathers their stories, along with the recipes that remind them of home.

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and its population is young — the median age there is 29, nearly a decade younger than the U.S. or China.

People in the capital city of Jakarta also tweet more than in almost any city in the world. Social media is, in fact, one of the threads that ties this country of more than 17,000 islands together.

One of those social media celebrities is 29-year-old food blogger and Instagram enthusiast Prawnche Ngaditowo, who is known online as "foodventurer."

It's a late Saturday morning and a dozen men are hanging out in a scraggly playing field in Borobudur, Indonesia. There's a shaded dugout along one edge, and a worn patch of dirt in the center that makes this look like a lopsided baseball diamond.

It's training day at the Lapak Netral pigeon racer club.

To race, you must have a pair of birds. Pigeons, it turns out, mate for life. The male bird is the racer, and returning to the female provides his motivation.

The males are piled into a cage and ferried by motorbike to a release spot about 2 miles away.

Below a highway overpass in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, college students eat fried noodles and spicy chicken stew from brightly lit food stalls that fill this gritty space. The noise of cars and trucks rumbling overhead mingles with the sound of jets landing at the nearby airport.

A singer's voice begins to pierce this dense cacophony. She has woven palm fronds into her hair to create a headpiece that crowns her sparkly pink outfit. Diners tip her before turning back to their meals.

As home to 250 million people speaking hundreds of languages and spanning some 17,000 islands in an area as wide as the continental U.S., Indonesia is one of the most populous and diverse countries in the world.

The actress and comedian Amy Sedaris has become famous for her roles in shows like Strangers With Candy and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At the same time, she has always harbored a not-so-secret love of home crafting projects.

She's written books about it — Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, and I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence — and now, she has a program on Tru TV, At Home With Amy Sedaris, inspired by the shows she loved as a kid.


Interview Highlights

On her inspirations

Rasika, an Indian restaurant in Washington, D.C., has won just about every recognition possible. The Washington Post called it the No. 1 restaurant in the city. The chef has won a James Beard award — basically the Oscars of the food world. President Obama celebrated his birthday there — twice. And though the place has been open for more than a decade, it is only just now coming out with a cookbook.

In 2011, Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad. Years before that book came out, Egan had begun researching the 1930s and '40s in New York City. Her new novel, Manhattan Beach, is the result of that research. It follows a father, his daughter and a gangster whose lives intersect in New York around World War II.

Journalist Franklin Foer worries that we're all losing our minds as big tech companies infiltrate every aspect of our lives.

In his new book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, Foer compares the way we feel about technology now to the way people felt about pre-made foods, like TV dinners, when they were first invented.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A decade ago, Nguyen Tran ran a small private company producing independent films, while his wife Thi Tran worked in advertising. When the economy crashed in 2008, Nguyen's projects began to run dry and Thi lost her job the following year. Out of desperation, they started an illegal underground restaurant in their North Hollywood apartment. They called it "Starry Kitchen," named after Thi's favorite Cantonese cooking show from Hong Kong.

Despite a title which might lead you to believe otherwise, Good Time is not an easy-going, popcorn flick; the gritty, pulp thriller falls into a genre that could be described as "movies about very, very bad nights."

Robert Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a small-time criminal trying to get his brother Nick out of jail after a bank robbery gone wrong.

The push for renewable energy in the U.S. often focuses on well-established sources of electricity: solar, wind and hydropower. Off the coast of California, a team of researchers is working on what they hope will become an energy source of the future — macroalgae, otherwise known as kelp.

Author Karl Ove Knausgaard — known for his six-volume autobiographical series, My Struggle — has embarked on a brand new multi-part project. Autumn, the first in a four-part quartet, is a collection of texts, each focused on a single subject.

In these short studies, Knausgaard considers a wide variety of tangible and intangible topics — apples, wasps, silence, jellyfish, fingers, forgiveness, dawn.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Someone we have heard on this program over the last year died suddenly on Friday. Billy Manes was a leader in Orlando's gay community. He edited the city's LGBT newspaper, Watermark. Our cohost, Ari Shapiro, has this remembrance.

Lawrence Osborne has lived in half a dozen countries all over the world. He's set his previous books in Morocco, Cambodia and France.

His latest novel, Beautiful Animals, is a sun-drenched summer novel with a shadow of death hanging over it. It follows a young, wealthy woman named Naomi, vacationing on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra.

"I haven't written about Europe for a very long time. ..." Osborne says. "It's a sort of a homecoming for me, in a way. These landscapes I know from my childhood. ... Memories came up from deeper places, which I hadn't expected."

In American cities, the murder rate has kept rising over the last couple of years. One of the most violent cities in the U.S. is Baltimore.

That's where 22-year-old photographer Amy Berbert lives. She's been documenting every murder that took place in Baltimore in 2016. The city has more than twice as many homicides per capita as Chicago.

When senators come back to Washington on Monday, a handful of Republicans will help decide the fate of legislation that could reshape health care in America.

One of them is Nevada Republican Dean Heller.

Sen. Heller is one of a small bunch of Republicans who have said they will not support the latest draft proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Republican leadership can only lose the support of two of its own senators and still pass such a bill.

If you crack open a beer this Fourth of July, history might not be the first thing on your mind. But for Theresa McCulla, the first brewing historian at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, the story of beer is the story of America.

"If you want to talk about the history of immigration in America, or urbanization or the expansion of transportation networks, really any subject that you want to explore, you can talk about it through beer," McCulla says.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Drive east from Washington and eventually you run smack into the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, the massive estuary that stretches from the mouth of the Susquehanna River at Maryland's northern tip and empties into the Atlantic 200 miles away near Norfolk, Va.

The Chesapeake is home to oysters, clams, and famous Maryland blue crab.

It's the largest estuary in the United States.

In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus Andromedon is a show-stealing character. Tituss Burgess plays the mostly out-of-work actor who's black, gay and an endearing friend to the very naive Kimmy Schmidt.

In the fall of 1974, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in the country of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the legendary boxing match known as "The Rumble in the Jungle." Although the Rumble had to be postponed until later that autumn, a related promotional event went on as scheduled and turned out to be similarly momentous: Zaire 74, a music festival where some of America's greatest black artists played alongside Africa's leading talent to an audience of tens of thousands.

alt-J has risen to music stardom while playfully disregarding many rules of popular music. Over its past two albums, An Awesome Wave and This is All Yours, the British trio has displayed a taste for the unpredictable and unconventional. And now, the forthcoming album Relaxer features two different songs that include counting in Japanese, a cover of a classic folk song with a veritable orchestra of classical guitarists and hardly any tracks under five minutes in length.

Mike and Amy Mills are a father-daughter team from southern Illinois.

Mike was trained as a dental technician. "I made false teeth — crowns, bridges, partials — this type of thing. It's what I did as a trade," he recalls. "Later on, I started barbecuing just for the fun of doing it."

And that's what made him famous.

A wooden puzzle in the silhouette of a human head might look fun if the stakes weren't so high.

Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn each spent time in bands that never made it big. But when the two of them joined up to create Sylvan Esso, everything changed. They started filling up high-profile music venues, became famous internationally and almost immediately started to feel pressure to make magic a second time. Now, three years after the band's debut, Sylvan Esso has a sophomore album, out Friday. The name of the record, What Now, offers some insight into how Meath and Sanborn felt making it.

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