Lynn Neary

First, we must contend with the word "fat" itself. It should be a simple descriptor, but fat is often used as an insult — whispered by gossips, or hurled by bullies. Many people use euphemisms — heavy, plump, overweight — to avoid it all together. But now, some writers have decided that it's time to take "fat" head on.

"There's a lot of power in reclaiming words that have been hurled as stigma terms," says Joyce Huff, an English professor at Ball State University.

Before she was a writer, Sara Baume set out to be a visual artist.

"First and foremost I see; I see the world and then I describe it ..." she says. "I don't know another way to write. I always anchor everything in an image."

Baume's process works — a review in The Irish Times called her debut novel a "stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness."

Baume loves words, and she loves fitting words together so they flow like poetry.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Peering back across Harper Lee's life, it can seem impossible to distinguish the novelist from her masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee died at the age of 89 in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala., on Friday morning — yet it's clear that her legacy will live on much longer than that, through her characters and the readers who have embraced them for decades.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Herman Wouk has written a lot of well loved novels like The Winds of War, War and Remembrance and The Caine Mutiny, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. But his latest achievment is a rare one — Wouk reached a milestone that few of us will ever see: the age of 100.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Authors Guild has started the new year with a bang. First, the group, which represents the interests of writers, asked the Supreme Court to review an October appeals court ruling, which upheld Google's right to digitize out-of-print books without an author's permission. A few days later, the guild addressed a separate issue when it released a letter to publishers demanding better contract terms for authors.

When Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was published earlier this year, readers learned that this much anticipated "second book" by Lee was actually a first draft of what would later become the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee radically revised this early version of the book on the advice of her editor, Tay Hohoff. That made us wonder: How much do editors shape the final book we read?

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The 1920s had Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The '60s, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth and James Baldwin. More recently, J.K. Rowling defined a generation. And now, there's ... PewDiePie?

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Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Writer John Irving doesn't believe in miracles — but he is fascinated by them. And there is much that is both miraculous and mysterious in his new book, Avenue of Mysteries. Irving has written 14 novels, including A Prayer for Owen Meany, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules. Circuses, orphans and transgender characters often appear in his work, which has a way of mixing the real with the surreal in unexpected ways.

Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk loves Istanbul. But he is a creature of the affluent corners of the city where he grew up and now lives, and he has written many times about the lives of Istanbul's secular upper class. His latest novel, A Strangeness in My Mind, is the story of a street peddler, one of the millions who began immigrating to Istanbul in the 1950s from small villages in the country.

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