Books

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Tracking the great Siberian tiger

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Of all charismatic animals, tigers are surely the most filmed, televised, documented, noisily cherished and, paradoxically, the most persecuted on…

Author Diana Athill (Photo: Getty)

Diana Athill finally accepts ‘Old Woman’ status, aged 98

23 January 2016 9:00 am

There’s something reassuring about 98-year-old Diana Athill. She’s stately and well-ordered, like the gardens at Ditchingham Hall in Norfolk, her…

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In and out of the drink

23 January 2016 9:00 am

‘If I were to go mad,’ Amy Liptrot writes in her memoir of alcoholism and the Orkneys, ‘It would come…

‘Burlesque in New York mutated into vaudeville’s disreputable sister, filled with dirty comics and strippers in body stockings or less’

Drawing blood with pen and ink

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Molly Crabapple is an American artist and Drawing Blood is the story of her life. That life has only been…

Memoirs of a Messenger (Photo: Getty)

Girl about town — on a bicycle

23 January 2016 9:00 am

The old ditty got it wrong: it should have been ‘Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner that I love…

Author John Irving (Photo: Getty)

John Irving spoilt my Christmas

23 January 2016 9:00 am

This novel, John Irving’s 14th, took the sheen off my Christmas, and here are the reasons.   The comments on…

Russian Soviet writer Maxim Gorky (Photo: Getty)

Maxim Gorky’s revolutionaries are ready for martyrdom

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Maxim Gorky was trumpeted as ‘the great proletarian writer’ by Soviet critics, who considered his novel The Mother one of…

Small comfort: a mother, whose only son was killed in a car accident at the age of 23, holds a picture of him as a child. Many such bereaved parents, unable to conceive again and struggling to support themselves in later life, say they have nothing left to live for

China’s brutal one-child policy will be catastrophic for us all

16 January 2016 9:00 am

China’s brutal one-child policy was not only inhuman; it will profoundly damage the rest of the world, says Hilary Spurling

Robert Boyle with his laboratory assistant Denis Papin

Science was invented in 1572

16 January 2016 9:00 am

There was no science before 1572, the year that Tycho Brahe saw a new star in the night sky above…

Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany (Photo: Getty)

An Egyptian comedy of errors

16 January 2016 9:00 am

The Yacoubian Building, the first novel of the Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, sold well over a million copies in…

Author Lee Child (Photo: Getty)

Writing a bestseller ‘on the verge of a stroke’

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Every four seconds, somewhere in the world, a Lee Child book is sold. This phenomenal statistic places Child alongside Stephen…

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What happened to British communism?

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Like most trade unionists in the 1970s and 80s I worked with a fair few communists. Men like Dickie Lawlor,…

The interior of All Saints Margaret Street Church in London. Photo: David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The history of London through its parish churches

16 January 2016 9:00 am

John Betjeman, the patron saint of English parish churches, once warned against praising British buildings too much. Be careful before…

Stella Gibbons (Photo: Getty)

Stella Gibbons’s ‘lost work’ should have remained in the drawer

16 January 2016 9:00 am

One of the great fascinations of a ‘lost’ work by a famous name dredged up out of the vault after…

Junk artist Bernard Buffet in his château

Bernard Buffet: painter and poser

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Bernard Buffet was no one’s idea of a great painter. Except, that is, Pierre Bergé and Nick Foulkes. Bergé was…

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The ultimate New York parking novel

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Publishing a ‘New York’ novel in the months after 11 September 2001 is a surefire, if accidental, way to make…

Love at first bite (Photo: Getty)

Dinners for beginners

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Never mind teaching children to cook: they need to be taught to eat. Obvious? Totally, but this is the choosing…

A 19th-century view of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Kiev’s Monastery of the Caves) Russian School

The history of Ukraine — from Herodotus to Hitler

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Timothy Snyder traces Ukraine’s complex history from its classical heritage to the present day

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The dying fall of the Fells

9 January 2016 9:00 am

At some point during your reading of this book the realisation might dawn, if you didn’t already know about his…

Francis Morland tells us how not to smuggle

The art of getting busted

9 January 2016 9:00 am

The Art of Smuggling comes garlanded with fraternal encomia from Howard ‘Mr Nice’ Marks, Phil Sparrowhawk (author of Grass) and…

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Rodolfo González Alcántara is lord of the dance

9 January 2016 9:00 am

‘Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough,’ said Gustave Flaubert. He might have been talking about this…

Fishing for sturgeon at the mouth of the Amur River in the Okhotsk Sea

‘Russia’s Mississippi’ — or China’s — just keeps rolling along

9 January 2016 9:00 am

In 2014, Beijing and Moscow signed a US$400 billion deal to deliver Russian gas to Chinese consumers. Construction of the…

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Sins of the past haunt the latest crime fiction

9 January 2016 9:00 am

It’s often the case that present-day crimes have their roots in the past. Ian Rankin’s Even Dogs in the Wild…

Gerard Manley Hopkins (Photo: Getty)

The confessions of Gerard Manley Hopkins

9 January 2016 9:00 am

‘I am 12 miles from a lemon,’ lamented that bon vivant clergyman Sydney Smith on reaching one country posting. He…

Christ makes a brief cameo in György Spiró's novel (Photo: Getty)

György Spiro’s Captivity fails to captivate Tibor Fischer

9 January 2016 9:00 am

It’s been a long time coming for György Spiró. However much Hungarian writers complain about the isolation forced upon them…