Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair and me — Michael Moorcock meets his semi-mythical version


Sinclair is one of our finest writers, says Michael Moorcock, and London Overground is one vast, pumping, blaring, rattling, melancholy, celebratory cultural circus

Sir Thomas Browne (Photo: Getty)

It’s amazing how many different subjects Sir Thomas Browne’s latest biographer doesn’t care about


Hugh Aldersey-Williams ‘wrenches’ the brilliant 17th-century polymath into the 21st century — simply in order to express his own disappointment with the modern world


From ambrosia to zabaglione — now with added slavery

Books feature

Should sugar be taxed? Some of the contributors to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets seem to think so. Sugar certainly appears less appealing than it used to. Its negative effect on our teeth is undeniable, and it now… Read more

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The ‘art’ of stealing presented as English heritage


Simon & Schuster should be ashamed to have published Bob and Brian Tovey’s The Last English Poachers. There is nothing romantic about stealing from the rich — it’s a crime like any other

English novelist and journalist Angela Huth (Photo: Getty)

An Austenesque Aga saga with hints of postmodernism


There are too many wrong notes in Colouring In, Angela Huth’s latest novel about a woman who tries to have it all


Which comes first — the chicken or the pig?


Two new books claim equal significance for their chosen subject as the driving force of civilisation

Training Corps from Lahore, march with rifles during a training exercise (Photo: Getty)

The forgotten army: abandoned by the British to the horrors of Partition


Raghu Karnad’s moving memoir Farthest Field makes triumphant redress for the injustices suffered by his fellow Indians in the Burma Campaign

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Lonely little emperors: secrets of China’s only children


As Xinran’s Buy Me the Sky reveals, China’s one-child policy has resulted in a grotesquely distorted population tortured by guilt


Roger Federer helped me through my nervous breakdown, says William Skidelsky


But why has such a boringly perfect tennis player inspired so many writers, wonders Edmund Gordon (worried by his own fascination with Andy Murray)


While I was wining and dining bands, the future of the music industry was stealing CDs in North Carolina


We 1990 record executives didn’t know what was about to hit us. Stephen Witt’s How Music Got Free explains it all

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The dark side of Delhi


Lucy Beresford’s heroine investigates her husband’s death while uncovering the truth about India’s missing millions in her compelling novel Invisible Threads

Morning mist in the valleys of northeast Dartmoor, seen from the summit of Brent Tor

What can we do with Dartmoor?


There have been conflicting plans for this wilderness, going back to the 18th century, as Matthew Kelly’s Quartz and Feldspar reveals

Victoria as a child, by Richard Westall

Queen Victoria was born to be a novelist — this book proves it

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Few monarchs could become novelists. They wouldn’t be able to develop the practice, or possess the necessary temperament. No monarch could sit in the corner of a room observing, or walk the streets unnoticed. They don’t have much of a… Read more


Owen Sheers disregards the first commandment of novel-writing: to show, not tell


Repetitive and highfalutin, I Saw a Man, involving a distant drone strike and close-ups of a failing marriage, feels rushed and undeveloped

Author Steve Toltz (Photo: Getty)

If a novel about failure fails, does that make it a success?


With Quicksand, a flaccid carrier bag of a comic romp, I fear that Steve Toltz is trying to find out

Tallulah Bankhead — at home in louche Maidenhead

Oscar Wilde, Christine Keeler, Ivor Novello and Isambard Kingdom Brunel make unexpected companions on the Great Western


In Station to Station, former commuter James Attlee finds romance and malarkey along the line to Bristol

Catherine Lampert, 1986

Frank Auerbach: frightened of heights, dogs, driving, swimming — but finding courage through painting


Catherine Lampert’s revelations about Frank Auerbach include the astonishing claim that, as an orphan, he never felt the need of parents

Stephen King (Photo: Getty)

Finders Keepers is not so much a book as a shot-by-shot description of a future film


Stephen King’s latest foray into hard-boiled detective fiction has a definite whiff of Elmore Leonard — without the humour


New ways to destroy the world


The more we know about environmental damage, according to Michael McCarthy’s The Moth Snowstorm, the more of it we seem to do


What’s wrong with the Victoria Cross


Gary Mead highlights the many problems involved with awarding the VC. How can courage be graded? And who should be the judge?

Béla Bartók recording folk songs with villagers in Hungary, 1907

Bartók would have made history even if he’d never composed a note


Béla Bartók cannot really be considered Hungary’s ‘national’ composer at a time when borders were constantly being redrawn — but he was an undoubted hero when it came to collecting folk music

San Domenico church, Palermo

Palermo: city of jasmine and dark secrets


Two new books on Sicily celebrate the island’s rich history, from the ancient Greeks to Cosa Nostra (but both are wrong about Leonardo Sciascia)


Online trolls: ‘cultural dung beatles’, revelling in society’s ordure


Two new books on internet trolling reveal that the geeks, hackers and misanthropes who are wrecking people’s lives are mainly young, male Americans — but with a fair smattering of Brits and Aussies


Bond would be bored in today’s MI6, says Malcolm Rifkind


Stephen Grey’s The New Spymasters traces an astonishing transformation in MI5, MI6 and GCHQ — but at least some of the old rules apply

The battle of Lepanto, October 1571

From Barbary corsairs to people-traffickers: the violence of the Mediterranean

Books feature

With summer on its way, thoughts turn south to olive groves and manicured vineyards, to the warm water and hot beaches of the Mediterranean. But this sea that is a place of rest and beauty for some of us is… Read more

Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Boris Michaylovich Kustodiev, 1915 (Photo: Getty)

All might have been well had Nicholas II only listened to a tiny cosmopolitan elite


The best way to govern a country is through an educated aristocracy: Dominic Lieven’s provocatively old-fashioned view, applied to the end of Tsarist Russia


Fathers and sons — seen from multiple angles


Stuart Evers’s 12 short stories on the theme of fathers and sons are full of good ideas — not always well executed

Lucian Freud in his bedroom in Notting Hill, May 2011

Falling in love in the Musée Gustave Moreau


Meades takes issue with some of Barnes's speculations on the art that will and won't survive - but both agree conceptual art is dead in the water