Ayad Akhtar is a novelist, actor and screenwriter. And when his first play, Disgraced, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013, he also became one of the most talked about new voices in American theater.
Long before this buzz, though, Akhtar grew up in a Muslim family with roots in Pakistan. He mines this background to bring the inner lives and conflicts of Muslim Americans to the stage. His plays often feature cutting dialogue and confrontations steeped in the tension between Islamic tradition and personal evolution.
There are antlers everywhere on the walls of Bryan and Mike McDonel's place near Pine Bluff, Ark. The house is hardly big enough for all their hunting trophies. The pair are both good shots with their hunting bows; Bryan and his father Mike served in the Arkansas National Guard and deployed together to Iraq, twice.
The McDonel family has served in the military for generations. But Bryan, 35, is out of the service now. He is one of thousands of troops and veterans who struggle with addiction to prescription drugs.
Labor tensions are high at the largest port complex in the country — Los Angeles and Long Beach — which handles nearly half of all the cargo coming into the United States.
Short haul truck drivers are striking. They're the independent, contract truckers who bring the containers off the ships to nearby warehouses for companies like Walmart and Costco. At the twin ports, their numbers hover around 10,000.
Federal officials have announced that a young Mississippi girl, once thought to have been cured of HIV, now once again has detectable levels of the virus. This is a setback not just for the child, but also for hope of eradicating HIV in infants with a potent mix of drugs at birth.
In advance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Republican Convention, Robert Siegel speaks with The New York Times writer-at-large Sam Tanenhaus. They discuss the impact that the Civil Rights Act, passed earlier that year, had on the nomination of Barry Goldwater.