Fresh Air

Weekdays at 7 PM
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. 

In the new film Room, actress Brie Larson plays Ma, a woman who has created an elaborate fantasy world for her 5-year-old son, Jack. The fantasy covers a harsh reality: She and Jack are imprisoned in a small backyard shed by the man who abducted Ma as a teen and raped and impregnated her.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit



Nowadays, the news is full of stories about sexual assaults on children by priests and other religious authority figures, as well as battles over compensation for victims. There were many such cases in the last half of the 20th century, but the idea that such revelations would someday be routine — and be centered all over the U.S., in Ireland, in South America — was unimaginable.

In the new Netflix series Master of None, comic Aziz Ansari plays an Indian-American actor in New York who's having a hard time finding good roles. It's a story that Ansari and other actors are familiar with.

If you asked me the difference between modern American novels and modern French ones, I'd start by saying, the French ones are shorter.

Now, I realize this isn't universally true — Proust's In Search of Lost Time makes The Great Gatsby look as thin as a SIM card. But where our writers tend to fatten their books in hopes of the Great American Novel, France has a taste for elegant concision that runs from Gide through Camus to the 2014 Nobel Laureate, Patrick Modiano. French readers don't feel cheated if a book runs only 120 pages.

Growing up in Miami as the child of a Haitian father and a French mother, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant heard a wide range of music, including that of jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.

David Karpoff, who died Oct. 27, was very important in my life and in the life of Fresh Air. In fact, he created the show, and came up with the name, when he was the program director of WHYY, back in 1973.

Fresh Air was very different then. It was a free-form, interview and music show, broadcast only in the Philadelphia area, every weekday afternoon from 2 until 5. There was at least one other host before me, and David had sometimes hosted the show himself.

Mention Oscar Hijuelos and most people think The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. And why not? It's his gorgeous second novel, the one that won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1990. More novels followed, as well as a memoir, but much of that work carried trace elements of the exuberance and melancholy that made Mambo Kings so distinctive.

Hijuelos' sudden in death in 2013 was one of those literary deaths that genuinely seemed to sadden a lot of readers — his work was beloved for, among other things, its sweet, sad take on the allure of dreaming big in America.