Nicholas Lezard

Music was always Anthony Burgess’s first love

3 February 2024 9:00 am

A gifted pianist and composer, Burgess combined his talents in a superb series of music reviews, published for the first time in a complete collection

Dark days in Wales: Of Talons and Teeth, by Niall Griffiths, reviewed

6 January 2024 9:00 am

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution a mountain is being hollowed out for mining, and everyone is covered in mud or worse in this memorable and highly original novel

The real problem with ChatGPT is that it can never make a joke

25 November 2023 9:00 am

When Andy Stanton commands the AI program to tell him a story about a blue whale with a tiny penis, the result, as it unfolds, drives him a bit insane

Unfinished business in Berlin: The Secret Hours, by Mick Herron, reviewed

9 September 2023 9:00 am

How it all began: Di Taverner, Service legend David Cartwright and the rest of the Slow Horses make themselves known to the reader in an origin story disguised as a follow-up

Another tragic case involving medical incompetence and cover-up

26 August 2023 9:00 am

John Niven had to fight hard to discover why his suicidal brother was left alone and unmonitored in an Ayrshire hospital, with fatal consequences

A born storyteller

15 July 2023 9:00 am

Instead of swashbuckling, we get the Parisian art world, trout-fishing, unhappy couples and surrogate parenting – though the 20 stories for children are full of adventure

Advice to struggling writers

1 July 2023 9:00 am

Broad in scope and beautifully written, this unconventional autobiography contains some of the best advice struggling writers will ever receive

Judge, jury and executioner

24 June 2023 9:00 am

‘Immediate Justice’, the government’s new policing initiative of pursuing petty criminals, reflects the black-clad law-enforcer’s 1970s methods exactly

How hardboiled detective fiction saved James Ellroy

18 March 2023 9:00 am

After his mother’s murder, the teenage Ellroy seemed lost to speed and alcohol – until his discovery of crime writing led to a different addiction

If Lady Mendl didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent her

28 January 2023 9:00 am

The flamboyant hostess and ‘psychic’ interior decorator does seem like a comic creation – but she was real enough, and perhaps madder than Ludwig Bemelmans lets on

The art of exclamation marks!

7 January 2023 9:00 am

For centuries, grammarians considered it vulgar and warned against using it too freely – but Jane Austen saw the point of it, says Florence Hazrat

How to avoid paying London’s Ulez charge

3 December 2022 9:00 am

How to beat London’s Ulez charge

A ghoulish afterlife: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka, reviewed

10 September 2022 9:00 am

Ten years ago Shehan Karunatilaka’s first novel, Chinaman, was published and I raved about it, as did many others. Set…

Aleister Crowley was even more beastly than we’d imagined

20 August 2022 9:00 am

I have never had much time for Aleister Crowley. Magic(k) is nonsense; the mystical societies he founded were simply pretexts…

The Everybody Inn: what happened when a hotel opened its doors to the homeless?

23 July 2022 9:00 am

What do you do when you pass someone sleeping or begging in the street? I’ll tell you what I do:…

The boys who never grow up: Sad Little Men, by Richard Beard, reviewed

4 September 2021 9:00 am

I can’t recall reading an angrier book than this. Richard Beard has written what I hope for his sake is…

Tenderness and sorrow: Inside Story, by Martin Amis, reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Inside Story is called, on the front cover, which boasts a very charming photograph of the author and Christopher Hitchens,…

Our recent stockpiling is nothing to what ‘preppers’ lay in store

13 June 2020 9:00 am

This book could not have been published at a better time — nor, in a way, at a worse time.…

There are more negatively-loaded words than positive ones — so what?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Negativity has a power over us. You know how it is. One bad thing can ruin your whole day, even…

At long last love: Live a Little, by Howard Jacobson, reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Towards the end of Live a Little, one of its two main characters says: ‘I’m past the age of waiting…

Jeffrey Bernard and Christopher Howse among drinkers at the Coach and Horses. Norman Balon presides. Credit: Rex Features

‘You don’t want to end up like us’: How I got out of Soho just in time

15 September 2018 9:00 am

On the one hand, I am supremely qualified to review this book. In 1984, bored beyond endurance after graduating with…

A man of many handles: Flann O’Brien in Dublin

A melancholy talent with a genius for send-up – Flann O’Brien was his own worst enemy

21 July 2018 9:00 am

It is tempting to compare two highly intelligent, learned and gifted young Dublin writers, suffering under the burdensome, Oedipal influence…

Don Quixote is often referred to as the ‘first’ novel, though Javier Cercas disagrees

From Don Quixote to My Struggle — a survey of the novel in 160 pages

23 June 2018 9:00 am

I wonder what your idea of a good novel is. Does it embody the attributes of solid plotting, characterisation and…

How one man took on the French betting system — and kept winning against the odds

14 April 2018 9:00 am

About a third of the way through this book I worked out that I had an unbeatable system for winning…

Coffee and khat vie for cultivation in Yemen

Risking all for the perfect mocha coffee

3 February 2018 9:00 am

‘This guy’s crazy,’ says a taxi driver, listening to a BBC interview with a man who has decided to become…