Anna Baddeley

Across the literary pages: Ned Beauman

London doesn’t really have a literary hipster scene, but if it did, Ned Beauman would be centre stage. The 27-year-old novelist may look like he’s crawled out of an evolution of man diagram, but he’s very clever and very trendy and, despite having gone to Cambridge, knows a lot about ketamine. His show-offy but energetic

Across the soft-porn pages

Hearing that rope sales were going through the roof in New York, many of us naively assumed it was bored housewives wanting to recreate scenes from 50 Shades of Grey. Now, after another weekend of wall-to-wall broadsheet analysis of the least sexiest bonkbuster of all time, you have to wonder whether it might have been

The Spectrum – the week in books | 6 July 2012

UP: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE Faber’s new Shakespeare’s Sonnets app is rated 12+ on account of its ‘Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity’. After watching Andrew Motion’s  come-to-bed reading of Sonnet 142 we’re surprised it escaped an X-certificate. Who needs 50 Shades when you’ve got the third sexiest poet laureate (after Ben Jonson and Ted Hughes) wearing

Across the literary pages: Alastair Campbell’s Burden of Power

The publishing juggernaut that is Alastair Campbell’s diaries rumbles on, with the arrival of the fourth instalment, Burden of Power: The Countdown to Iraq. The 752-page volume covers the most tumultuous part of Blair’s premiership, taking readers from 9/11 to Campbell’s resignation two years later.   This is the sort of book whose reviews are

The Spectrum – the week in books

Up: BAD HABITS 500K to spare? Four pages of calfskin, 1,300 year old manuscript could be yours in the Sotheby’s summer sale next month. In De Laude Virginitatis [In Praise of Virginity], Anglo-Saxon cleric Aldhelm advises the nuns of Barking Abbey to avoid garments which might ‘set off’ the body and ‘nourish the fires of

The art of fiction: Jonathan Franzen, essayist

Do great novelists make great essayists? Not in the case of Jonathan Franzen, at least according to Phillip Lopate, who reviewed Franzen’s new essay collection Farther Away for the New York Times. Lopate is a fan of Franzen’s but feels his non-fiction pieces – though entertaining and interesting – are ‘not nearly as strong as

Across the literary pages: Post-Jubilee special

Now we’ve all had our fill of bunting, bladders and BBC-bashing, it’s time to turn our minds to more high-minded pursuits, starting with a long overdue glance at the weekend’s book pages.   And you can’t get higher minded than a Nobel Laureate. 74-year-old Peruvian novelist, and ex-presidential candidate, Mario Vargas Llosa has a new

Women in need of a man or two

The Orange Prize longlist has just been announced, followed by the perennial hoo-ha over its right to exist. Is it sexist to have a prize just for women? Is sexism the reason why we need a prize just for women? Does anyone outside the comment boards on the Guardian website actually care? All it is,

Giving up books for Lent

More bad news for people who like their reading matter to come with a spine: January sales for printed books were down 16 per cent on last year’s. There are lots of reasons for this — ebooks, better telly, a global pandemic of attention deficit disorder — but what’s often overlooked is modern publishing’s tendency

A cautionary tale…

Every summer when the exam results come out, besides the obligatory photos of bouncing schoolgirls, there’s a story about a five-year-old who’s become the youngest person ever to pass a GCSE. Little Liam, his parents boast, has been doing sums since before he could talk and is now raking in the dosh from his million-selling

The Pursuit of Love: Not just for girls

After a lacklustre year of books programming, the low point being a serialisation of a middle-class family’s failed attempt to live without internet, Radio 4 has lately come into its own. Already this month we’ve been treated to Beware of Pity (which I wrote about here), the surprisingly enjoyable Gargantua and Pantagruel, Claire Tomalin’s biography

Can we have an ode against greed, please?

Is it possible to hold a literary award these days without igniting some sort of controversy? The latest storm in an inkwell surrounds the TS Eliot Prize, whose shortlist shrunk after two poets dropped out in protest at its sponsor, the hedgefund Aurum.   John Kinsella and Alice Oswald have boycotted the prize, explaining ‘the

Dauntless into the future

Gentleman shopkeeper James Daunt has given a cringeworthy interview to the Independent where he calls Amazon ‘a ruthless, money-making devil, the consumer’s enemy’. I wouldn’t be surprised if the manger of “Quills ‘R’ Us” had said something similar about William Caxton in 1476. Poor James Daunt. He clearly had a certain degree of business acumen

Hatchet Jobs of the Month | 2 December 2011

Eurozone crisis, what eurozone crisis? According to Spanish newspaper El País, the real global emergency is the state of literary criticism. British book pages, however, won’t need bailing out any time soon — at least if these splenetic offerings are anything to go by. Tibor Fischer on Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas, Guardian It’s a

A lost classic brought back to life

Full marks to Radio 4 for deciding to dramatise Stefan Zweig’s masterpiece, Beware of Pity (listen on BBC iPlayer). This is a rare example of a “neglected classic” that actually lives up to the hype. Born in Austria in 1881, Zweig was one of the most famous writers of the twenties and thirties, his novellas