Out of sight, out of mind

10 August 2019 9:00 am

Yoko Ogawa’s new novel takes us to a Japanese island where things keep disappearing: ribbons, birds, musical instruments, fruit. People,…

In praise of the semicolon, a most maligned punctuation mark

10 August 2019 9:00 am

Now, how shall I start this review? I loved this book. I really did. (Too abrupt.) I loved this book,…

Web of deceit: disinformation could prove the most powerful weapon of all

3 August 2019 9:00 am

We could begin almost anywhere. But let’s start in Ukraine, with Babar Aliev. Babar is a former gang leader who…

Credit: Alamy Stock

Head to Berlin to hear nightingales sing

3 August 2019 9:00 am

In a sense, the song of the bird in the title of this short, hugely thoughtful and fascinating book is…

Roger Hargreaves reading to his twin daughters. Credit: Getty Images

The Orwellian horror of the Mr Men books

3 August 2019 9:00 am

It is bad enough when we learn that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. But later in life there comes another trauma,…

Yukio Mishima posing in Tokyo in 1970. Credit: Getty Images

Capers in crime: Life for Sale, by Yukio Mishima, reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Few biographies are quite as impressive as Yukio Mishima’s. One of Japan’s most famous authors, he wrote 80 plays and…


Alas, poor Hamlet — now presumed to be overweight

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Do you regard fat as a noun, a food substance all humans eat and need? Or as an adjective, denoting…

Credit: Getty

A picture of rural Kentucky: Stand by Me, by Wendell Berry, reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Anyone picking up a book by Wendell Berry, whether it be fiction, essays or a collection of his lucid and…

Lloyd Welch, the Lyon girls’ murderer.

How to interrogate a murderer

3 August 2019 9:00 am

This is horrible. But it’s a book by Mark Bowden, who wrote Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, so it’s…

Robert Caro. Credit: Getty Images

Will Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ ever be finished?

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Robert Caro, at the age of 83, continues to work full-time on his grand inquiry into the nature of political…

The only known colour photograph of Tolstoy — taken at Yasnaya Polyana in 1908 by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Searching in vain for the ‘soul’ of modern Russia

3 August 2019 9:00 am

It would be hard to have better travel-writer credentials than Sara Wheeler. Here the author of The Magnetic North and…

Not far fom the Dozier School, a small cemetery with 31 metal crosses is thought to contain further unmarked graves of children murdered by the staff

America’s brutal borstals: The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Novelists will always be interested in enclosed communities — or the ‘total institution’, as sociologists say. When you separate a…

Shetland with tirricks

Kayaking solo from Shetland to the Channel

27 July 2019 9:00 am

After kayaking solo in a November storm to a square mile of rock called Eilean a’Chleirich in the Summer Isles…

Mick Jagger at the Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA earlier this month. Credit: Getty Images

They just keep rolling along: the astonishing durability of the Rolling Stones

27 July 2019 9:00 am

At the end of 1969, teenage Rolling Stones fans reading the new Fab 208 annual could be forgiven for thinking…

Aung San Suu Kyi in 2013. Credit: Getty Images

Aung San Suu Kyi couldn’t save Burma — but tourism can

27 July 2019 9:00 am

My uncle Edward did not like talking about his service in Burma during the second world war. When I asked…

Nicola Barker

Fun and games: I Am Sovereign, by Nicola Barker, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

In 2017’s Goldsmiths Prize-winning novel H(A)PPY, Nicola Barker strewed pages with multicoloured text. The Cauliflower, her joyful previous offering, employed…

La Bayadère was first staged by Marius Petipa at the Bolshoi in 1877, to the music of Ludwig Minkus

Where would ballet be without Marius Petipa?

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Should the man on the Clapham omnibus ever turn his mind to ballet, he is bound to envisage the work…


The dark side of Whitby: Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky and other crime novels reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Andrew Martin continues his quest to create uniquely interesting crime novels in The Winker (Corsair, £16.99). Lee Jones is a…

Deborah Moggach. Credit: Getty Images

Angel or demon? The Carer, by Deborah Moggach, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

You might think The Carer rather an unpromising title, but Deborah Moggach’s book delivers a wickedly witty entertainment. Towards the…

Klaus Fuchs after his release from prison in 1959

How Klaus Fuchs’s treachery may have averted Armageddon

27 July 2019 9:00 am

When Klaus Fuchs started passing atomic secrets to the KGB, he changed the course of world events. Forget about Philby…

Words of war: interviews with the children who survived Hitler’s invasion of Russia

20 July 2019 9:00 am

In 1990s Russia, war veterans were a bossy, even aggressive presence, upbraiding people in shops and pushing to the front…

Andreï Makine’s new novel is ‘masterful’

20 July 2019 9:00 am

The Siberian-born novelist Andreï Makine has, as we say in the book world, a shedload of French literary bling. He’s…

How to train your husband

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Around 25 years ago it became clear that there existed only two groups that could still be bullied by journalists…

It’s time we treated the moon with some respect

20 July 2019 9:00 am

At the very back of the eye is a cluster of cells called ipRGCs. They are cells that don’t depend…

All of nature in a village in Norfolk

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Walking home from work one day during the half-year I lived in London’s Maida Vale (almost three decades ago now),…