Arts & Culture

American author George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, a polyphonous meditation on death, grief and American history.

Saunders, widely lauded for his short stories, was considered the favorite to win the award. His novel centers on the death of Abraham Lincoln's beloved son Willie and the night that Lincoln reportedly spent in the graveyard, devastated by his grief and lingering by his son's body.

Richard Wilbur, the former poet laureate and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner renowned for his elegant, exquisitely crafted formal poetry has died at the age of 96.

Amy Tan loves jazz and classical music. "I have a Steinway, which was my life's dream," she says, sitting at her grand piano in the middle of her New York living room. When Tan listens to a piece of music, she imagines stories to go with it, so she always listens when she writes.

Never mind ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires.

Eric Smith

Irene Williams spent roughly 40 years walking most of the length of Lincoln Road, from her apartment at Michigan Avenue to the office where she worked as a stenographer in the Lincoln Building at Washington Avenue. She was a vision in so many bright colors and loud patterns in clothes she made herself. Irene Williams was someone you noticed. 

It's not often you'll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they've even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

The El Injerto coffee shop, with its silver stools, brick-and-chalkboard walls and The Weeknd's "I Feel It Coming" playing softly in the background, resembles many cafes in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. But it is in Guatemala City, where paying $5 for a cup of coffee has not always been so common.

Coffee has been one of Guatemala's most important export crops since at least the early 1800s. Only in the past few years have Guatemalans started to consume their own world-renowned product on a larger scale.

I saw Practical Magic the film when I was 14, a little while before I read Practical Magic the book. I loved both, talked passionately about how very different they were from each other, how glad I was that I'd seen the film first so as to appreciate it on its own terms. The film gave me women loving and fighting with and for each other, in a house and garden (and kitchen) to spend the rest of my life lusting after; the book gave me poetry, the names of flowers, and generations of Owens sisters.

If you're into Disney trivia, you might know that Walt Disney's idea for a new theme park in Orlando, Fla., was initially called The Florida Project. That's also the name of a new film set in a world that seems very far away from the magical kingdom: a budget motel where families live teetering on the edge of homelessness.

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

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