Books

Sisters under the skin: Han Kang’s The White Book reviewed

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Before the narrator of The White Book is born, her mother has another child; two months premature, the baby dies…

Did the modern world really begin in 1947?

2 December 2017 9:00 am

I grew up knowing 1947 as the year of my father’s birth, in a black-and-white faraway time. I was told…

Has Paul Theroux finally lost it?

2 December 2017 9:00 am

As I ploughed through this semi-autobiographical behemoth about an author and travel writer obsessed with his siblings and mother, I…

The Russian summer embassy at Büyükdere on the Upper Bosphorus, built in 1840 for General Nikolai Ignatiev. The Tsar’s envoy is said to haunt it still

A love letter to Turkey’s lost past

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Patricia Daunt’s collection of essays is a fascinating exploration of some of Turkey’s most beautiful and evocative places, from the…

Secrets of an abused aristocratic childhood

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Charles Duff’s memoir tells a sad tale of cruelty and betrayal with spry wit rather than bitter resentment. Notwithstanding the…

‘Chalices’ — a lesser known enamel work by Geoffrey Clarke, 1950

Geoffrey Clarke’s imaginative talents knew no bounds

2 December 2017 9:00 am

At the height of his fame in the mid-1960s, the sculptor Geoffrey Clarke (1924–2014) was buying fast cars and flying…

The rich literature of the game of poker

2 December 2017 9:00 am

According to the subtitle, this is a collection of ‘short stories of long nights at the poker table’. Were that…

On the run with Martin Luther King’s assassin

2 December 2017 9:00 am

This newly translated novel by the Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina is really two books, spliced together in alternating chapters.…

The Marx Brothers owed their vaudeville success to sharp wits, slapstick and a willingness to trade on the pervasive humour of ethnic stereotypes

Is Jewish humour the greatest defence mechanism ever created?

25 November 2017 9:00 am

Jewish humour has always been a defence mechanism against pain and persecution, says Keiron Pim

Portrait of Queen Caroline by Joseph Highmore, c.1735

Caroline of Ansbach: the best of the Hanoverians

25 November 2017 9:00 am

It can sometimes seem — unfairly but irresistibly — as if the sole function of the myriad Lilliputian German statelets…

The BBC’s battle for Britain

25 November 2017 9:00 am

The camouflage-painted, smoke-blackened entrance to London’s 1940s Broadcasting House, moated with sandbags and battered by bombs, provided its staff with…

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, photographed by Annie Leibovitz (From Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005–2016)

Sex and the city: the best art books of the year

25 November 2017 9:00 am

‘I should like,’ Edgar Degas once remarked, ‘to be famous and unknown.’ On the whole, he managed to achieve this.…

Wonder is all around

25 November 2017 9:00 am

Different people find different things impressive. Some claim, for instance, to experience a sense of wonder at the fact of…

Milton’s blinding reading list

25 November 2017 9:00 am

In December 1996 Martin Amis told listeners of the BBC’s Desert Island Discs what would relieve his solitude were he…

A crime novel that continues to puzzle

25 November 2017 9:00 am

His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet’s previous novel, had the sort of success that most authors and creative writing students…

Drugs and drag queens in New York’s vanished clubland

25 November 2017 9:00 am

In 2014 Michael Alig, impresario, party promoter and drug provider, was released on parole after 17 years in prison for…

More books of the year

18 November 2017 9:00 am

A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2017, chosen by some of our regular reviewers

How can I prevent my husband from burning all my post?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Our own dear Mary wishes Giles wouldn’t automatically assume that everything she’s sent is junk mail

Roman mosaic from the Villa of the Nile, Leptis Magna, Libya (2nd century AD)

Holy mackerel! Civilisation begins with fishing

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Fish. Slippery, mysterious creatures. They are mysterious because of where they live, in vast waters, and because they elude the…

Sex and sycophancy at Rolling Stone

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Many moons ago, I worked at the New Musical Express magazine, which transformed me from virgin schoolgirl to the fabulous…

Lettice had the same thin face as Queen Elizabeth I, and the same shock of thickly curled, fiery red hair

The great Tudor catfight

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Apart from glorying in a memorable name, Lettice Knollys has chiefly been known for her connections — with her second…

The 67 words that ensured endless bloodshed

18 November 2017 9:00 am

If books about the Israeli-Arab conflict were building blocks, the Palestinians would have their own state already and then some.…