Books

Is there any such thing as a truly frightening ghost story?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

How do you like your ghosts? Supernatural fiction is arguably the hardest to get right. Ideally it should terrify, but…

Blue and Yellow Macaw, c.1834

Edward Lear: where art and nonsense collide

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Peter Parker on the modest, melancholy and astonishingly gifted painter and author

In thrall to the Mob on Manhattan Beach

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Much has been made of the American novelist Jennifer Egan’s mutation, in her latest novel, from purveyor of metafiction and…

Princess Margaret at the races in Kingston, Jamaica in 1955

Princess Margaret: a darkly glamorous tale

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Princess Margaret was everywhere on the bohemian scene of the 1960s and 1970s. She hung out with all the famous…

Dinner at the Centre of the Earth: a tragicomic Middle East spy romp

14 October 2017 9:00 am

I first heard of this tragicomic spy romp around Israel and Palestine when Julian Barnes sang its praises in the…

Edward Winslow visits Massasoit

The Pilgrim Fathers: from persecuted to persecutors

14 October 2017 9:00 am

They were at sea for more than two months in desperately cramped conditions. The battered ship, barely seaworthy, pitched violently…

Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel is dazzling – and just like all his others

14 October 2017 9:00 am

If you think you know what to expect from an Alan Hollinghurst novel, then when it comes to The Sparsholt…

Nicola Lagioia puts the boot into modern Italy

14 October 2017 9:00 am

A young woman, naked and covered in blood, totters numbly down a night road. A driver spots her in his…

The problem with Hungary’s toothless opposition

14 October 2017 9:00 am

The name of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is on the lips of most left-wing, liberal politicians and intellectuals…

How Joseph Conrad foresaw world trade and terrorism

14 October 2017 9:00 am

In the 1890s, when British-owned ships carried 70 per cent of all seaborne trade, legislators worried about the proportion of…

Richard Nixon in September 1968

Richard Nixon: the nightmare president of his age

14 October 2017 9:00 am

In this giant, prodigiously sourced and insightful biography, John A. Farrell shows how Richard Milhous Nixon was the nightmare of…

The best recent crime fiction reviewed

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling (4th Estate, £12.99) has the word masterpiece emblazoned on the cover, alongside quotes from several…

A wall painting in an 18th-century rural synagogue in Germany depicts the Lion of Judah and the temple of Jerusalem.The itinerant folk artist was Eliezer ben Solomon Sussman

Simon Schama’s latest history is a Technicolor blockbuster

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Simon Schama’s great, boisterous history has the Technicolor drama – and crude simplicity – of a Hollywood blockbuster, says Bernard Wasserstein

Could John Banville please go back to being himself?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Did I enjoy this novel? Yes! Nevertheless, it dismayed me. How could John Banville, whom I’ve admired so much ever…

Inventing the Chinese typewriter sounds as punishing as cracking Enigma

7 October 2017 9:00 am

The history of industry is the story of the reduction of complexity to easily manageable, replicable components or actions. But…

Portrait of Gabrielle Renard and Jean Renoir. Gabrielle was an important part of the Renoir household, both as nanny and artist’s model

Renoir’s exuberant canvases masked a tortured soul

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1959 the formidable interviewer John Freeman took the Face to Face crew to the 81-year-old Augustus John’s studio. The…

Has sushi become the new chicken tikka masala?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Driving across Japan’s Shikuko island, the food and travel writer Michael Booth pulls into a filling station to find, alongside…

‘A new Raft of the Medusa’.Two survivors, Maurice Anderson and Goodman Thomasen, of the Norwegian ship Drot turned on their German companion in an act of cannibalism — after which Anderson savagely attacked Thomasen (From Le Petit Journal, 1899.)

Murder, madness and cannibalism - the worst things happen at sea

7 October 2017 9:00 am

This horrifying and engrossing book could scarcely be improved upon. In this age of HRHs Harry, William and Kate-led openness…

Escalators in the atrium of Richard Rogers’s Lloyds building

Richard Rogers: the Jamie Oliver of architecture

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Richard Rogers is to architecture what Jamie Oliver is to cookery. It is not enough for either of them just…

C. Day Lewis’s prose was even better than his poetry

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Literary reputation can be a fickle old business. Those garlanded during their lifetimes are often quickly forgotten once dead. Yet…

Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep

The sibling rivalry that produced the best films ever

7 October 2017 9:00 am

There aren’t many downsides to being a film critic, but one of them is being asked to name your favourite…

The bright, funny side of Sylvia Plath

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In May 1956, three months after meeting Ted Hughes, one before they will marry, Sylvia Plath writes to her mother…

Michael Rosen reveals what a nasty place 1950s Britain was

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1952, the five-year-old Michael Rosen and his brother were taken on holiday along the Thames by their communist parents.…

The uninhabited island of Fuday in the Sound of Barra, Outer Hebrides

Patrick Barkham gives us islands galore

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Britain has 6,000 islands. Not as many as Sweden’s 30,000 but quite enough to be going on with. Only 132…

Anthony Powell, by Henry Lamb (1934)

Anthony Powell gets the superb new biography he deserves

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Hilary Spurling impressively captures the essence and the spirit of Anthony Powell, his writing and his era, says Philip Hensher