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Lynn Neary

It was no accident that W.E.B. Du Bois called his book The Souls Of Black Folk, says Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History Of Racist Ideas In America. Du Bois wasn't looking for a catchy title — he was reacting to the reality of his times.

"Racist Americans were making the case that black people did not have souls," Kendi says. "And the beings that did not have souls were beasts."

Jacqueline Woodson has been writing books for children and young adults for most of her career. After winning the National Book Award for her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, she decided she wanted to do something she hadn't done in 20 years — write a book for adults. Her new novel, Another Brooklyn, is about friendship and memory and coming to terms with death.

When writer Mona Eltahawy was 15 her family moved to Saudi Arabia from the UK. It was a shock. Suddenly her highly educated mother could not drive or go anywhere unless accompanied by a man. Boys and girls lived segregated lives and it seemed to Eltahawy that women were considered the walking embodiment of sin. She found her refuge in reading and eventually discovered the writing of Muslim feminists.

E.L. Doctorow used to tell a story about a journalism class he took as a high school student in the Bronx. As he told NPR back in 2003, he wrote a profile of a doorman at Carnegie Hall who was beloved by all the performers there. His teacher, apparently, loved the story so much, she wanted to publish the story in the school paper — so she told Doctorow to get a photo of the man.

There was just one problem.

"I hadn't expected that kind of enthusiasm," Doctorow recalled, "and I said, well, 'Not exactly, there is no Carl.' I made him up."

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Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

There's one hard and fast rule for the romance novel: It has to have a happy ending. The two people you think should be together will be together in the end. But the journey to that happily-ever-after can be a bumpy one. And romance heroes come in many forms.

I wanted to find out what makes romance heroes so, well, romantic — and the first thing I learned is that romance fans have a language of their own. "We have names and acronyms for everything within the genre," says Jane Litte, who blogs about romance at Dear Author.

Over a long career in publishing, Jonathan Galassi has worked with some great novelists: Alice McDermott, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen and Marilynne Robinson, to name a few. Now the president and publisher of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, he has just written his own novel, Muse. Not surprisingly, it's all about publishers, editors, writers and poets.

Publishing's big week is almost over. The industry's annual convention, BookExpo America, ends Friday in New York, and on Saturday the publishing world opens its doors to the public with BookCon, where avid readers will get the chance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.

Chinese writers and publishers are being celebrated this week in New York at BookExpo America — the industry's largest trade event in North America. Organizers of the event say China deserves a seat at the table because it is such a big and potentially lucrative market. But some authors and free speech advocates have seen this as an opportunity to shine light on censorship in China.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When restaurateur Nora Pouillon moved to the United States from Austria in the 1960s, she was surprised by how hard it was to get really fresh food. Everything was packaged and processed. Pouillon set out to find the find the best ingredients possible to cook for her family and friends. She brought that same sensibility to her Restaurant Nora, which eventually became the first certified organic restaurant in the country.

Pouillon writes about her lifelong devotion to food in a new memoir, My Organic Life: How A Pioneering Chef Helped Shape The Way We Eat Today.

Next Friday, Armenians commemorate the events that took place 100 years ago, when the Ottoman Empire began forcibly deporting Armenians from their homeland, which lies within an area that is now Turkey. It was the beginning of a massacre that left more than one million Armenians dead. Armenians call it genocide; Turkey says the killing was not systematic, but part of widespread fighting at the time.

Before Hilary Mantel decided to write about him, Thomas Cromwell, the man at the center of her popular award-winning novels, wasn't a heroic figure. History and popular culture mostly depicted him as a bad guy, able and willing to do the king's bidding, whether right or wrong.

In her first novel, Hausfrau, poet Jill Alexander Essbaum has created a heroine who is not without precedent. Her name is Anna and she is, as we learn in the first sentence, "a good wife, mostly." That phrase, written with a poet's precision, contains a kernel of truth and a world of lies.

As a woman frustrated by the parameters of her own life, Essbaum's character has much in common with some literary heavyweights from the past.

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