Books

Emily Hill is the Saki of sex

10 February 2018 9:00 am

How I love short stories! Long before the internet realised that we can’t sit still long enough to commit to…

What does it feel like to have Alzheimer’s? A sufferer provides a unique insight

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 58, three years ago. At the time, she was a…

Raiders from Scotland cross the border to steal cattle

Was King Arthur really a Roman centurion called Artorius?

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Graham Robb, apart from being a distinguished historian, biographer and literary critic, is one of our most accomplished travel writers.…

Sourdough has almost converted me to novels about baking

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Sourdough has all the ingredients of a truly despicable work of fiction. Novels about food are awful, aren’t they? Especially…

Dennis Hopper in The American Friend. ‘There’s a barely an image in the film that doesn’t have its origins in one of Edward Hopper’s canvases’

Wim Wenders: a leading artist of New German Cinema

10 February 2018 9:00 am

What know they of movies who only movies know? Wim Wenders’s latest collection of essays arrives at a time when…

Death comes too close for comfort in the latest crime novels

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Alex Jackson is buried alive inside his own body, a body which lies in a long-term coma following a climbing…

Aerial view of the ‘Salt Pit’, the CIA’s clandestine detention centre north of Kabul, which opened in September 2002. Detainees were kept chained in total darkness, with loud music playing constantly

Do the Americans know who they’re fighting in Afghanistan — or why?

3 February 2018 9:00 am

For the past 16 years, America’s war in Afghanistan has been a dismal tale of ignorance, atrocity and error, says Jason Burke

‘Play-Doh’ (1994–2014) by Jeff Koons

Is the bubble about to burst in the absurdly inflated contemporary art market?

3 February 2018 9:00 am

I always suspected I disliked Jeff Koons, until I saw one of his monumental pieces at Frieze London a few…

Denis Johnson: where pain and comedy collide

3 February 2018 9:00 am

The death of Denis Johnson last May marked the loss of a great original who catalogued the lives of junkies,…

Trying hard to be somebody in Trump’s America

3 February 2018 9:00 am

For Horace Hopper, the half-breed protagonist of Willy Vlautin’s bleak new novel, essential truths come slowly, and usually too late…

Crime and puzzlement in Tony White’s Oulipo-inspired novel

3 February 2018 9:00 am

Tony White’s latest novel begins for all the world like a police procedural, following the delightfully named sleuth Rex King…

Nick Coleman hears better with half an ear than the rest of us do with two

3 February 2018 9:00 am

If you’ve ever had a text or email thread spiral wildly and unexpectedly out of control or clocked a couple…

Both Henry Williamson and Edward Thomas acknowledged their debt to Richard Jefferies (above)

Richard Jefferies: a naturalist under the microscope

3 February 2018 9:00 am

Alan Bennett once defined a classic as ‘a book everyone is assumed to have read and forgets if they have…

The way to dusty death

3 February 2018 9:00 am

In the words of Dad’s Army’s Private Frazer: ‘We’re all doomed.’ Life remains a dangerous business whose outcome is always…

Coffee and khat vie for cultivation in Yemen

Risking all for the perfect mocha coffee

3 February 2018 9:00 am

‘This guy’s crazy,’ says a taxi driver, listening to a BBC interview with a man who has decided to become…

John Cairncross in retirement in the south of France. ‘He was my favourite of the Five,’ Yuri Modin, their KGB controller, wrote in his memoirs, despite finding Cairncross’s unpunctuality and inability to work a microfilm camera infuriating

The Cambridge spy ring and the myth of an upper-class cover up

3 February 2018 9:00 am

It has become fashionable since the fall of the Soviet Union to diagnose communist fellow travelling as a form of…

How electronic dance music took over the world

3 February 2018 9:00 am

It was approximately 4.50 a.m. in Ibiza: peak time on the dance floor. I was on the decks in one…

The neglected house on Downshire Hill had been Allan Chappelow’s home from childhood

The murder of a harmless Hampstead eccentric remains shrouded in mystery

27 January 2018 9:00 am

For weeks the battered body of an elderly eccentric lay undiscovered in the heart of Hampstead. Philip Hensher believes the wrong man was charged with murder

Enrico Fermi: nuclear physicist and childish practical joker

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Enrico Fermi may not be a name as familiar as Einstein, Feynman or Hawking, but he was one of the…

Portrait of William Farquhar by John Graham, c. 1830.

How Raffles stole the jewel of Singapore

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Accounts of the founding of the British Empire once echoed the pages of Boy’s Own, featuring visionaries, armed with a…

Who could underestimate the experience of witnessing ‘Inside Australia’ at dawn or dusk?

The subtle magic of Antony Gormley wraps the world

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Martin Caiger-Smith’s huge monograph on Antony Gormley slides out of its slipcase appropriately enough like a block of cast iron.…

For Julian Barnes, the only story is a love story — and it’s inevitably sad

27 January 2018 9:00 am

The story, as it emerges, feels both familiar and inevitable. A bored 19-year-old student, on his university holidays in mid-century…

Corruption, corruption, corruption: the full story of Miami vice

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Sullying the glorious sunshine, sand and sea, Miami in the 1940s, when I first ventured there, was already overcrowded, vulgar…

Painting of Odysseus and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse (1891)

Could the Odyssey have been the work of a woman?

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Until recently, it seemed we were living in an age of Iliads. Since 2007, the ancient Homeric epic has been…

One of the ‘Cottingley hoax’ photographs, the work of two young girls in 1917, which famously hoodwinked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle really away with the fairies?

27 January 2018 9:00 am

When this survey of British fairydom arrived I turned to the chapter on Dorset to read about the little people…