Books

Conceptual image of Lactobacillus acidolphus that occurs naturally in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth

Want to feel better? Be kind to your bugs

27 August 2016 9:00 am

There are more bacteria in your gut than there are stars in our galaxy. Ed Yong’s book explaining their possibilities is as wondrous as a sacred text, says Kate Womersley

Pile of Faux Uncut Diamonds Isolated on a Black Background

Who wouldn't want to be Joseph Conrad?

27 August 2016 9:00 am

A certain sort of male novelist will always aspire to be Joseph Conrad. The seedy cosmopolitanism of his fiction and…

Old School Lockers and Hallway

Sean O’Brien explores a very English form of sadomasochism

27 August 2016 9:00 am

At first glance Sean O’Brien’s new novel appears to focus on England’s devotion to the past. Even its title carries…

Centre of attention (Photo: Getty)

A study of female street walkers is disappointingly pedestrian

27 August 2016 9:00 am

On 8 June 1920 an old beggar woman sat against a wall in Kingsway holding a mongrel in her arms…

Tom Wolfe at 85: still working the suit and hat look

Aged 85, Tom Wolfe discovers the key to human progress

27 August 2016 9:00 am

He might be 85 but Tom Wolfe is going strong with a new book and a dustjacket photo that still…

Sketch of Dr James Barry

Doctor in disguise: the secret life of James Barry

27 August 2016 9:00 am

On 25 July 1865, during a heatwave, Dr James Barry died of dysentery in his London lodgings. A charwoman came…

Author Peter Ho Davies (Photo: Getty)

Peter Ho Davies’s Chinese-Americans are neither one thing nor the other

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Peter Ho Davies’s second novel, The Fortunes, is a beautifully crafted study, in four parts, of the history of the…

Julie Christie as Lara in David Lean’s 1965 film

The true story of Dr Zhivago’s Lara

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Between agreeing to review this book and receiving it, I got worried. Like many, I adore Doctor Zhivago with its…

Author Jon Kalman Stefansson (Photo: Getty)

Gale-force lyricism from Iceland’s most poetic novelist

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Centuries before their footballers learned giant-slaying ways, Icelanders knew how to startle the world with tall stories. In the moonscape…

Spy Chief at Buckingham Palace (Photo: Getty)

Sir Maurice Oldfield: a spymaster smeared

27 August 2016 9:00 am

In March 1981 Margaret Thatcher went to the hospital bedside of Maurice Oldfield, the former head of the Secret Intelligence…

Illuminated manuscript c.1335 depicting seven fiery red seraphim, the highest order of angelic beings

The power and glory of red

20 August 2016 9:00 am

The colour contains the greatest contradictions, the richest play on nuances and goes further back than any other. Paul Keegan follows the red thread through history

Author Tommy Wieringa (Photo: Getty)

Tommy Wieringa’s Job-like hero has an age-old problem

20 August 2016 9:00 am

With a title like A Beautiful Young Wife, this is of course about the decline of an older husband. Professor…

J.M. Coetzee (Photo: Getty)

J.M. Coetzee has lost the plot

20 August 2016 9:00 am

The Schooldays of Jesus is not, as it happens, about the schooldays of Jesus. It is the Man Booker-nominated sequel…

Samir Basim leads the basses in France, 2013

Iraq's national youth orchestra: an improbable story on a heroic scale

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Now that even candidates for President of the United States can rise up from the undead dregs of reality television,…

Shinkolobwe uranium mine, Congo (Photo: Getty)

The business of war — and espionage — is never gentlemanly

20 August 2016 9:00 am

A teenager in the second decade of the Cold War, my father was taught to play snooker by a KGB…

Fallingwater, Pennsylvania by Frank Lloyd Wright — one of the most astonishing houses ever built

Should Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson be linked at all?

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Architecture is sometimes described as the second oldest profession, but often — in both theory and practice — it competes…

Alone in the Dark

Addiction and the 'recovery' gurus who profit from it

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Perhaps because so many of them are former drunks and junkies, ‘addiction experts’ are touchy people. Often they don’t like…

Jounalist Mark Lawson (Photo: Getty)

Mark Lawson hits back at the wild accusers

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Mark Lawson’s latest novel, set in Britain in the recent past, presents us with a nation in the grip of…

Open book

The Oxford English Dictionary: not just a labour of love, a feat of endurance

20 August 2016 9:00 am

What the Great Eastern was to Brunel, the New English Dictionary was to James Murray (1837–1915) — an unequalled task…

‘I met more kindness in Trieste than I ever met anywhere else’, said James Joyce (left), referring to his friend — and lookalike — Italo Svevo

The fairy-tale friendship of James Joyce and Italo Svevo

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Philip Hensher celebrates one of the happiest, if most surprising, of literary friendships — the one between James Joyce and Italo Svevo that began in Trieste before the first world war

piano / keyboard playing hands and finger

What could resist the Red Guards? Music and storytelling

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Madeleine Thien’s third novel, recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, begins in Vancouver with Marie, who, like the author,…

purple nebula and cosmic dust

Planet-hunters will always boldly go where no one has gone before

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Fifty years ago this summer, a new show appeared on American TV screens. These, the opening titles explained, were the…

The devil’s in the detail: from ‘The Last Judgment’ triptych

The enduring mystery of Hieronymus Bosch

13 August 2016 9:00 am

To call Nils Büttner a killjoy is perhaps a little unfair, but not very. The professor at Stuttgart’s State Academy…

Alcoholism

The joy of sex turns to misery in Clancy Martin’s latest novel

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Six years ago, the Canadian author Clancy Martin made a splash with his autobiographical novel How to Sell, based on…

Neolithic burial chamber at Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire

The wonders of the Neolithic Age

13 August 2016 9:00 am

All organic beings descended from a single primordial blob, according to Darwin. Some of them developed sufficiently to leave the…