Books

Death and dishonour: The Promise, by Damon Galgut, reviewed

31 July 2021 9:00 am

If death is not an event in life, as Wittgenstein observed, it’s a curious way to structure a novel. But…

Why do anglers get so hooked?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

The other day a friend asked me what a lascar was. Fair enough: it’s not a word you come across…

What is the secret of Duran Duran’s durability?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

In my second year at secondary school we were all deeply envious of a girl named Judi Taylor because, obviously,…

The disappearing man: who was the real John Stonehouse?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Craig Brown describes his various encounters with the MP who notoriously faked his own death in 1974

Prehistoric footprints in Norfolk set us wondering

31 July 2021 9:00 am

During the first lockdown last year, taking my lockdown puppy for our Boris-sanctioned daily walks, I discovered a love of…

The book as narrator: The Pages, by Hugo Hamilton, reviewed

31 July 2021 9:00 am

It is a truism that a book needs readers in order to have a meaningful existence. Hugo Hamilton’s The Pages…

On the run from the Nazis: a Polish family’s protracted ordeal

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Writers of memoirs are often praised for their honesty — but how do we know? I found I did believe…

Foucault was shielded from scandal by French reverence for intellectuals

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Consider the hare and the hyena. The hare, Clement of Alexandria told readers of his 2nd-century sexual self-help manual Paedagogus,…

A death foretold: the last days of Gabriel García Márquez

31 July 2021 9:00 am

In March 2014 Gabriel García Márquez went down with a cold. The man who wrote beautifully about ageing was approaching…

How two literary magazines boosted morale during the Blitz

31 July 2021 9:00 am

William Loxley’s lively account of ‘Bloomsbury, the Blitz and Horizon magazine’ begins with W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood emigrating to…

They weren’t all that pious in the good old days

31 July 2021 9:00 am

You need to be wary of being too flattering about English churches. As John Betjeman said: ‘Be careful before you…

A volte face over what caused the pandemic needs explaining

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust, writes that ‘the last year has been an eye-opener for me.…

The least familiar stretches of Nile prove the most interesting

24 July 2021 9:00 am

It’s one of the most tantalising travel images in the world — a felucca floating along the Nile at sunset,…

Terence’s stamp: The Art of Living, by Stephen Bayley, reviewed

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Rumours reach me that the libel report for Stephen Bayley’s forthcoming biography of Terence Conran was longer than the book…

Playing with fire — did QAnon start as a cynical game?

24 July 2021 9:00 am

The QAnon conspiracy theory may be absurd, but it can’t be ignored. It has already led to significant acts of violence, says Damian Thompson

As circus gets serious, is all the fun of the fair lost?

24 July 2021 9:00 am

What’s so serious about a red nose? How should we analyse the ‘specific socio-historical relations’ and ‘aesthetic trends particular to…

Even psychiatrists don’t know how the drugs they prescribe work

24 July 2021 9:00 am

What is it like to go mad? Not so much developing depression or having a panic attack — which is…

The great awakening: Henry Shukman becomes a child of the universe

24 July 2021 9:00 am

For eight years I rented a small house in Oxford overlooking the canal. The landlord, a poet and novelist younger…

The man who made Manhattan: The Great Mistake, by Jonathan Lee, reviewed

24 July 2021 9:00 am

What makes a city? The collective labour of millions packed into its history; the constant forgetting of incomers who arrive…

The young bride’s tale: China Room, by Sunjeev Sahota, reviewed

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Sunjeev Sahota’s novels present an unvarnished image of British Asian lives. Ours Are the Streets chronicles a suicide bomber’s radicalisation,…

Our need to get drunk in company may be innate

24 July 2021 9:00 am

It was once a favourite theory of optimistic drunkards that a suitably ‘moderate’ level of alcohol consumption provided covert health…

What’s a scribbled signature worth?

24 July 2021 9:00 am

In 2002 I was living in Berlin. One day my upstairs neighbour Peter told me he had just returned from…

The tragedy of Lebanon — from safe haven to bankruptcy

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Mountains are humanity’s most comforting topographical feature. Wherever you find them you will also find those who have flocked to…

The life cycle of the limpet teaches universal truths

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Adam Nicolson is one of our finest writers of non-fiction. He has range — from place and history to literature…

Germany’s post-war recovery was no economic miracle

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Lord Macaulay wrote that ‘during the century and a half which followed the Conquest there is, to speak strictly, no…