Lynn Neary

Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent and a frequent guest host often heard on Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In her role on the Arts desk, Neary reports on an industry in transition as publishing moves into the digital age. As she covers books and publishing, she relishes the opportunity to interview many of her favorite authors from Barbara Kingsolver to Ian McEwan.

Arriving at NPR in 1982, Neary spent two years working as a newscaster during Morning Edition. Then, for the next eight years, Neary was the host of Weekend All Things Considered. In 1992, she joined the cultural desk to develop NPR's first religion beat. As religion correspondent, Neary covered the country's diverse religious landscape and the politics of the religious right.

Over the years Neary has won numerous prestigious awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award, an Ohio State Award, an Association of Women in Radio and Television Award and the Gabriel award. For her reporting on the role of religion in the debate over welfare reform, Neary shared in NPR's 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Award.

A Fordham University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Neary thinks she has the ideal job and suspects she is the envy of English majors everywhere.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK, the Grammy Awards are behind us. The Oscars are around the corner. And now, we have another award that also gets a lot of attention this time of year, from people who love kids' books.

The American Library Association has announced this year's Caldecott and Newbery Award winners. NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

Sue Monk Kidd's new novel is a story told by two women whose lives are wrapped together — beginning, against their wills, when they're young girls. One is a slave; the other, her reluctant owner. One strives her whole life to be free; the other rebels against her slave-owning family and becomes a prominent abolitionist and early advocate for women's rights.

The book, The Invention of Wings, takes on both slavery and feminism — and it's inspired by the life of a real historical figure.

When writers finish a book, they may think they've had the last word. But sometimes another writer will decide there's more to the story. The madwoman Bertha from Jane Eyre and the father in Little Women are just two examples of secondary characters who have been given a fuller life in a new work of fiction based on a classic novel.

A former Amazon executive who helped Jeff Bezos turn shopping into a digital experience has set out to end illiteracy. David Risher is now the head of Worldreader, a nonprofit organization that brings e-books to kids in developing countries through Kindles and cellphones.

Risher was traveling around the world with his family when he got the idea for Worldreader. They were doing volunteer work at an orphanage in Ecuador when he saw a building with a big padlock on the door. He asked a woman who worked there what was inside, and she said, "It's the library."

James McBride won the National Book Award for fiction Tuesday for "The Good Lord Bird," about a young slave who meets and travels with abolitionist John Brown. The nonfiction award was won by George Packer for "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America." The poetry award was won by Mary Szybist for "Incarnadine."

In the 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the public has never tired of books about the charismatic young president and his tragic death.

This year, the market has been particularly flooded with Kennedy books — from glossy photograph collections to serious biographies and histories to a new round of books devoted to conspiracy theories.

Joe Sacco is a cartoonist, graphic novelist and journalist; he's best-known for his dispatches from today's regions of conflict, like the Middle East and Bosnia, in cartoon form. But for his latest book, The Great War, Sacco turns his eye on history. He's recreated of one of the worst battles of World War I, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, from its hopeful beginning to its brutal end.

When it comes to book publishing, all we ever seem to hear about is online sales, the growth of e-books and the latest version of a digital book reader. But the fact is, only 20 percent of the book market is e-books; it's still dominated by print. And a recent standoff in the book business shows how good old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar bookstores are still trying to wield their influence in the industry. You might even call it brick-and-mortar booksellers' revenge.

In his new novel, Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to a character close to his heart: Jake Brigance. Grisham introduced Jake to readers in his first novel, A Time to Kill — an adaptation of which is opening soon on Broadway.

Grisham insists that he didn't plan for his first new Jake Brigance book to come out at the same time as the play. "You know it makes us look real smart," he says. "There is no way, if we had planned, that it would ever happen. It is completely coincidental."

The Quiet Dell murders were among the first big, sensational crime stories of the Depression: A serial killer corresponded with vulnerable widows he met through lonely hearts clubs, then lured them to their deaths.

As a child, writer Jayne Anne Phillips learned about the murders from her mother, who was a child in 1931, when the murders took place. Phillips says she didn't talk a lot about the tragedy, but whenever they drove close to where the crime occurred — near Clarksburg, W.Va. — her mother would say, "There's the road to Quiet Dell."

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