Books

Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1 is an epic home-run

4 February 2017 9:00 am

After a long struggle to receive mainstream publication, Paul Auster’s first few novels were a genuinely significant contribution to American…

Give yourself a treat and hurry on down to Spook Street

4 February 2017 9:00 am

It’s good to be back in Spook Street, home of the nation’s secret service. From a handful of locations across…

Love and loss in America’s wide open spaces

4 February 2017 9:00 am

We know our way around Raymond Carver’s blue-collar cityscapes and Updike’s urban angst and despair. Rick Bass opens a window…

Elif Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve agonise over religion, identity, freedom and feminism

4 February 2017 9:00 am

It’s terribly difficult to write a novel about soul-searching, and Elif Shafak has come up with a rather clever device…

Ismail Kadare satirises the artful Hoxha

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Blood, they say, is quick on the knife in Albania, where Balkan-style revenge killings, known as giakmarrje (‘blood-takings’), settle ancient…

How impartial is the US judiciary?

4 February 2017 9:00 am

James D. Zirin is an experienced litigator as well as the host of a popular television talkshow. In this provocative…

Moses has a formidable authority, with the physique of a bodybuilder and a beard that cascades like Niagara Falls

Michelangelo’s grave miscalculation

4 February 2017 9:00 am

‘How often’, wrote Sigmund Freud in 1914, ‘have I mounted the steep steps from the unlovely Corso Cavour to the…

Robert O’Hara Burke, William John Wills and John A. King return to their depot at Cooper’s Creek, Queensland, during their ill-fated exploration of the Australian interior, 1860–61

The riddle of the sands

4 February 2017 9:00 am

The great deserts of the world hold a compelling attraction for a rare breed of men who are ‘unwise and…

Clover Stroud flirts with danger and death

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Clover Stroud opens her memoir with the crippling bout of post-natal depression that hit after the birth of her fourth…

Illustration for the Edda by Arthur Rackham

The great soap opera of Norse mythology

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Norse myths are having a moment. Or should I say another moment; one of a long chain of moments, in…

An inmate of Auschwitz in the early 1940s

A singular horror

28 January 2017 9:00 am

How did the Holocaust happen? What lessons can be learned from it? Philippe Sands wonders whether anything similar could happen again

Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé by Edouard Manet, 1876

Stéphane Mallarmé: the happy Modernist

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Can American publishers be dissuaded from foisting absurd, bombastic subtitles on their books as if readers are all Trumpers avid…

Whalers defend themselves against polar bears (German school, 1870s)

Beauties and the beast: Hollywood sex goddesses and the great white bear

28 January 2017 9:00 am

According to the author of this beautifully illustrated, hugely engaging book, if we were ever to choose a fellow mammal…

Surely empathy’s a good thing?

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Being against empathy sounds like being against flowers or sparrows. Surely empathy is a good thing? Isn’t one of the…

Is Jonathan Lethem telling a story or just playing games?

28 January 2017 9:00 am

In backgammon, a blot is a single checker, sitting alone and unprotected. This is a sly title for this sly…

Statues of pharoahs at Karnak, dating from the Middle Kingdom

Before the bling of Tutankhamun

28 January 2017 9:00 am

If you read the first volume of John Romer’s A History of Egypt, which traces events along the Nile from…

The vanity and ineptitude of the global elite (by one of them)

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Anyone looking for a groundbreaking ethnography of the global political elite —the elusive social grouping that western electorates are currently…

The Nix is yet another first novel about writing a first novel

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Like many debut novels, The Nix, by the American author Nathan Hill, is about somebody writing their first book. Samuel…

Steven Spielberg directs Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple

How Steven Spielberg ruined the movies

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Back in 1978, a young and already successful Steven Spielberg told a bunch of would-be moviemakers at the American Film…

Fear and loathing in Lahore

28 January 2017 9:00 am

In a Kashmiri apple orchard, a young fugitive from the Indian army’s cruel oppressions spots a snake that has ‘mistaken…

Execution of Algerian rebels in Sétif

The scandalous scramble for Africa

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Empires in the Sun might conjure up romantic visions for some, but this book’s essence is distilled in its subtitle,…

How progressive was Jane Austen?

28 January 2017 9:00 am

Writing to her sister Cassandra about Pride and Prejudice in January 1813, Jane Austen declared, in a parody of Walter…

Why is the world crumbling in anger and terror?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

America’s global hegemony from 1944 onwards has led to a world now riven by hatred and terror, says Jonathan Steinberg

An elegant curiosity: Thomas Telford’s Pontycysyllte Aqueduct in north-east Wales, completed in 1805, is the longest and highest in Britain and a World Heritage Site

Thomas Telford: a man, a plan and 17 canals

21 January 2017 9:00 am

During David Cameron’s years as prime minister, an unobtrusive figure could be seen slipping out of the back entrance to…

Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi in the 1994 film Bandit Queen

Wild warrior women — from the Wrestler Princess to the Bandit Queen

21 January 2017 9:00 am

Who is the least likely candidate for an animated princess movie? That’s the question former DreamWorks animator Jason Porath asked…