Solomon Northup was born free in early-19th-century upstate New York. He lived the life of a respected and elegant musician until 1841, when he was lured South by the promise of a lucrative stint playing his fiddle in a traveling circus.
In Washington, D.C. — in the shadow of the Capitol — Northup was drugged. When he came to, he was in chains: a slave headed for the hellish world of plantation life. Only the hope of being reunited with his beloved wife and children kept him going.
Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 2:36 pm
On Tuesday night, finalists for the National Book Awards read from their nominated works at The New School in New York City. The National Book Foundation will announce the winners Wednesday night.
Get to know the books on the shortlist — for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature — using NPR's reviews and author interviews. Click the "Listen" links in the write-ups below to hear the authors read from their works.
Hollywood's been trying to get a handle on the Beat Poets for years. Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac led wild — and influential — lives. But films about them, like Naked Lunch and On the Road, have never really clicked with audiences. Kill Your Darlings may fare better, partly because it stars Daniel Radcliffe, and partly because the story centers as much on murder as on poetry.
On Tuesday night, Eleanor Catton became the youngest person to be awarded the Man Booker Prize in its 45-year history. Catton's book The Luminaries and those of her fellow finalists make up what has been hailed as perhaps the best shortlist in a decade, and they have been my companions for the past few weeks. It's a list spanning continents and styles, with a debut novel at one end and, at the other, one by a veteran who speculated that his latest book could well be his last.
In New York there is no shortage of artists. But recently, one artist caused a flurry of excitement around the city. Banksy, elusive, British and best known for his graffiti art, and for the month of October he staged what he calls a residency on the streets of New York. Everyday, he unveils a new work on his website and identifies the neighborhood it's in, but not the exact address.
Stephen Nessen, with member station WNYC, caught up with one of several Banksy fans who are racing to be the first to locate the daily street art.