Books

Salman Rushdie’s dystopic – and frighteningly real – vision of America

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Life has far more imagination than we do, says the epigraph from Truffaut that opens Salman Rushdie’s 12th novel —…

Midlife anxiety: Roddy Doyle’s Smile reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

As Roddy Doyle’s 12th novel begins, Victor Forde, a washed-up writer, has returned to the part of Dublin where he…

Megan Marshall explores Elizabeth Bishop's lifelong lesbian escapades in a new biography

16 September 2017 9:00 am

We are gripped by gossip. Curiosity is a tenacious emotion. In her essay on Push Comes to Shove, the autobiography…

The Korean war was the single greatest calamity of the period. Residents of Inchon surrender to American troops in 1950

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy, says Alan Judd. At least you knew where you were then

The Templars’ final disaster: Guillaume de Clermont on the ramparts of Acre in 1291. Painting by Dominique Papety

Whether heroes or villains, the Knights Templar were inept crusaders

9 September 2017 9:00 am

In W.B. Yeats’s ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, a testing allusion emerges amid a scene of nightmare: Monstrous familiar…

If I reread the entire Smiley sequence, will I understand it this time?

9 September 2017 9:00 am

If you had to choose one book that both typified spy fiction and celebrated what the genre was capable of…

Nature’s cure for an unhappy childhood

9 September 2017 9:00 am

As naturalist, educator and writer, John Lister-Kaye was for many years a voice in the wilderness. In 1976, when nature…

The miserly widow Mary Emsley, clutching a roll of her precious wallpaper, as portrayed in the popular press

The miserly widow of Mile End made a perfect murder victim

9 September 2017 9:00 am

What is it about Victorian murders that so grips us? The enduring fascination of Jack the Ripper caught the imagination…

Journey to Timbuktu and beyond

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Every so often a monster comes along. Here’s one — but a monster of fact not fiction, over 700 pages…

Homer Simpson meets Homer on a Mediterranean cruise

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Milan Kundera has said that Homer’s Odyssey was the first novel. I’m not so sure — the verse kind of…

‘My witchcraft is going well’: The crazed Eva Rausing, photographed shortly before her death

All about Eva: Sigrid Rausing’s shocking portrait of her sister-in-law

9 September 2017 9:00 am

It’s awful, but the surname Rausing (once synonymous only with the Tetrapak fortune) now summons up a terrible stench in…

The Normansfield Theatre in Teddington, a beautiful ‘lost’ Victorian playhouse, is still used for concerts and music-hall evenings, and by small opera companies

Capital dramas on and off the stage

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Theatre buildings are seriously interesting – as I ought to have appreciated sooner in the course of 25 years writing…

Finger counting from 1 to 20,000. From De Numeris by Rabanus Maurus. (Carolingian school, 9th century)

Centuries of calculation – from tally sticks to computers

9 September 2017 9:00 am

It’s odd, when you think about it, that mathematics ever got going. We have no innate genius for numbers. Drop…

Pussy Riot’s ‘joyous’ protest against Putin

9 September 2017 9:00 am

What makes for meaningful political protest? In regimes where ideology was taken seriously (such as the Soviet Union or America…

The cornucopia of food advertised by the Empire Marketing Board, 1927‑1933

The glories of empire — and Britain’s taste for the exotic

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Katrina Gulliver salutes the traders and innovators of the British empire who first gave us our taste for the exotic

The source of Mozart’s inspiration - a great musical whodunnit

2 September 2017 9:00 am

If you were to compare Mozart to a bird it wouldn’t be the starling. Possibly the wood thrush or nightingale,…

Kathy Acker in the late 1980s

Chris Kraus gets under Kathy Acker’s skin

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Few publishing phenomena in recent years have been as gratifying as Chris Kraus’s cult 1997 masterpiece I Love Dick becoming…

‘Isfandiyar Slays Arjasp and Takes the Brazen Hold’. From Shah Tahmasp’s Shahnama (Tabriz, 1520s-1530s)

The beauty and mystery of Arabic calligraphy

2 September 2017 9:00 am

The title of this book, By the Pen and What They Write, is a quotation from the Qur’an and comes…

Is it time for all lovers of London to pack up?

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Iain Sinclair is leaving London — like the croakiest of the ravens taking flight from the Tower. It is a…

Darwin was a martyr to ill-health all his life, and was patiently nursed by his wife Emma, whom he called ‘Mammy’

Was Charles Darwin the true father of eugenics?

2 September 2017 9:00 am

If there were a prize awarded to the book with the best opening line, A. N. Wilson would be clearing…

Love and tragedy in Orhan Pamuk’s Oepidean tale

2 September 2017 9:00 am

The Red-haired Woman is shorter than Orhan Pamuk’s best-known novels, and is, in comparison, pared down, written with deliberate simplicity…

A tale for all times: Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows reviewed

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Fantastic fiction loves contrasts made explicit: Eloi and Morlocks, orcs and elves, and above all humans battling vampires, Martians or…

Nights of the living dead in London’s bomb-damaged theatreland

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Patrick McGrath is a master of novels about post-traumatic fragmentation and dissolution, set amid gothic gloom. His childhood years spent…

Journeys to Israel and self-realisation: Forest Dark reviewed

2 September 2017 9:00 am

‘I frankly hate Descartes,’ states a character in Nicole Krauss’s new novel, Forest Dark: ‘The more he talks about following…

Master of the dark art of interrogation: Alexander Scotland in 1945

The British interrogation methods that even Hitler found ‘ingenious’

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Hidden behind Kensington Palace, in one of London’s smartest streets, there is a grand old house which played a leading…