Ari Shapiro

When Sinkane wrote the song "Ya Sudan" the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was still in power. He had ruled Sudan since a coup in 1989. That coup was a key moment in the life of Sinkane's lead singer and songwriter, Ahmed Gallab.

This month in Tulsa, Okla., opera singer Lucia Lucas made her U.S. debut. She also made history.

At the Tulsa Opera, Lucas sang the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Mozart's character is a ruthless, macho womanizer. Lucas is a transgender woman with a rich baritone voice and is the first known trans woman to sing a principal role on an American opera stage. In a conversation with NPR's Ari Shapiro, Lucas said she doesn't want her performances to be entirely defined by this historical marker.

Mary Miller grudgingly admits that she sees a bit of herself in the main character of her new novel Biloxi. Louis McDonald Jr. is 63, recently retired and, the author says, "really unlikable." He's unhappy with where he's landed in life, has driven away the people he used to be close to, and now his closest confidante is a dog he brought home on a whim.

Two years after winning the Grammy for best rock album, Cage the Elephant is back with its fifth studio album, Social Cues, out now. But since the band's last album, 2015's Tell Me I'm Pretty, there hasn't been much celebration. The band's members have experienced plenty of loss — from friends dying from overdoses to divorce. Those changes made it into the music of this latest album.

Feast Your Eyes is the name of a new book that tells the story of a young woman — Lillian Preston — who ventures to New York City in the 1950s, absolutely determined to be a photographer. The book is set up as if it's a catalogue accompanying her posthumous show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The supposed catalogue describes 118 photos — but we don't see a single one, because Lillian Preston is fictional, and entirely believable. She's the creation of author Myla Goldberg, who says that while Lillian is fictional, a lot of her photos are real.

Titanic Rising, Natalie Mering's latest album from her long-running project Weyes Blood, invites the listener in with a comforting, somewhat nostalgic sound. But beneath that warm, dream-pop bed of music is a flood of anxieties about climate change, finding love and a friend's suicide.

It's the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster: Five hundred years ago, a son of Christopher Columbus assembled one of the greatest libraries the world has ever known. The volumes inside were mostly lost to history. Now, a precious book summarizing the contents of the library has turned up in a manuscript collection in Denmark.

More than a decade ago, Anaïs Mitchell was running late for one of her shows. The singer-songwriter, in her 20s at the time, was trying to get from one gig to another and found herself lost. Along the drive, a song lyric popped into her head. "The lines that came were, 'Wait for me I'm coming. In my garters and pearls with what melody did you barter me from the wicked underworld,'" she remembers.

Our Planet is the kind of nature show where every image could be a screen saver: sweeping, dramatic landscapes are full of colorful animals.

Daviz Simango, mayor of Beira, Mozambique, thought that his coastal city was prepared for cyclones.

In 2012, the city built a new drainage system and wave barriers with $120 million from the World Bank. The idea was to help Beira withstand the rising seas and increased storms that experts predict will accompany global climate change.

Then Cyclone Idai hit.

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