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Book Bag: Laos as Character in 'The Coroner's Lunch'

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates talks with author Colin Cotterill about his new novel The Coroner's Lunch. Cotterill says the book's setting, the People's Republic of Laos during the country's transition to a communist regime in the mid-1970s, inspired the unique cultural experiences and viewpoint of its hero, an aging doctor thrust into the middle of a murder mystery.

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Karen Grigsby Bates is the Senior Correspondent for Code Switch, a podcast that reports on race and ethnicity. A veteran NPR reporter, Bates covered race for the network for several years before becoming a founding member of the Code Switch team. She is especially interested in stories about the hidden history of race in America—and in the intersection of race and culture. She oversees much of Code Switch's coverage of books by and about people of color, as well as issues of race in the publishing industry. Bates is the co-author of a best-selling etiquette book (Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times) and two mystery novels; she is also a contributor to several anthologies of essays. She lives in Los Angeles and reports from NPR West.