César Aira returns to the evocative small-town landscape of his youth

17 February 2018 9:00 am

The publication of César Aira’s The Lime Tree in Chris Andrews’s assured translation is a reminder that much of the…

The Marquis de Lafayette was inspired to fight in the American Revolutionary War

Why do people risk their lives to fight for a foreign cause?

17 February 2018 9:00 am

What’s the point of a cover if not to judge a book by? One look at the image on the…

Women sort coffee beans at the Farmers’ Cooperative Union outside Bonga, in the heart of the Kafa region

Kafa, the birthplace of coffee, was a kingdom straight out of Rider Haggard

17 February 2018 9:00 am

For many of us, coffee is the lift that eases the load of our working day. Yet the sharpened mental…

It’s not a wave’s crest, but its translucent interior that surfers dream of

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Surfing has come of age. Like rock and roll, it was once strictly for young people, edgy and alternative and…

Lady Lucan, a week after the murder

How Lucky Lucan begged me for money shortly before mistakenly murdering the nanny

17 February 2018 9:00 am

A Moment in Time reminded me of the sort of British expatriate women I used to meet in the south…

A century of Ethiopia’s turbulent history, seen through the life of one woman

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Yetemegn was barely eight years old when her parents married her off to a man in his thirties. Before she…

Despite her inability to talk or swallow, Genevieve Fox brims with joie de vivre

17 February 2018 9:00 am

A good, solid life-threatening illness can be the making of a writer. This has certainly been the case for Genevieve…

Churchill was all in favour of a united Europe — as long as it didn’t include Britain

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Dr Felix Klos is an extremely personable, highly intelligent American-Dutch historian who has undertaken much archival research, worked extremely hard…

One of a series of surfer novels featuring Bill Cartwright, a millionaire champion surfer and CIA agent

Mary Whitehouse’s publishers also produced Gang Girls, The Degenerates and Bikers at War

17 February 2018 9:00 am

The year 1971 was a busy one for Mary Whitehouse, self-appointed ‘Clean-up TV’ campaigner. Not only did she help establish…

The more outrageous sf fantasies give way to soft dystopias

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Science fiction, as any enthusiast will tell you, is not just about gazing into the future but also about illuminating…

The Charlie Hebdo attacks form a backdrop to a complicated love triangle in C.K. Stead’s latest novel

17 February 2018 9:00 am

There has been much debate recently about what exactly constitutes ‘literary’ fiction. If the term means beguiling, gorgeously crafted novels…

Emmeline Pankhurst is carried bodily from a demonstration outside Buckingham Palace in 1914

When persuasion failed, force seemed the only option for women to get the vote

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Jane Ridley describes how campaigners for female suffrage in Britain tried every tactic in vain. It took a world war to secure even a limited number of women the vote

The elusive snowy owl in flight

The healing power of owls

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Owls, frontally eyed and nose beaked, look the most human of birds. Accordingly, they have for millennia been prominent in…

A sales assistant wipes Unilever product, Fair and Lovely skin fairness cream at a shop in New Delhi on April 30, 2013. Food giant Unilever on Tuesday announced a 5.4-billion dollar offer to raise its stake in its Indian subsidiary, eyeing explosive sales of branded consumer items to the Asian country's growing middle class. AFP PHOTO/ SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Any residual reverence for the British Empire must end, says Afua Hirsch

10 February 2018 9:00 am

In parts of Africa and the West Indies women are so anxious to ‘whiten up’ that they use skin-lightening creams.…

At last, the truth can be told about Armageddon

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Deployed in vastly exaggerated numbers, nuclear weapons were maintained in place not just by secrecy, but by banalities and lies.…

Zadie Smith: attentive, thoughtful and original

Zadie Smith: a hip-hop enthusiast with Schopenhauer in her pocket

10 February 2018 9:00 am

There’s a tiny mistake in Zadie Smith’s new collection of essays. She describes Geoff Dyer’s unimprovably funny ‘trick while introducing…

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,…