Books

Rumbles in the jungle

26 August 2017 9:00 am

A CIA agent, a naive young filmmaker, a dilettante heir and a lost Mayan temple form the basis of Ned…

A pile of mud-covered satchels is all that remains of 74 children’s lives

A tidal wave of grief

26 August 2017 9:00 am

Most victims of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake — which convinced Voltaire there could be no God — perished not in…

The man who disappeared

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Walking out of one’s own life — unpredictably, perhaps even without premeditation and certainly without anything approaching a plan —…

Deity sculptors work on a preliminary structure for the ten-armed Goddess Durga in preparation for the Durga Puja festival

Change and decay

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Writing of his grandmother’s cremation, Kushanava Choudhury reflects in The Epic City that, while his expatriate Indian cousins are separated…

In Woolf’s clothing

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Martin Amis once said that the writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety. While one part of your brain…

The end of brotherly love

19 August 2017 9:00 am

You can never completely leave a religious cult, as this strange and touching memoir demonstrates. Patterns of thinking, turns of…

A bad taste in the mouth

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Here is the opening sentence of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s meditation on beds.: With its four legs and its flat, soft…

A woman on a ducking-stool, accused of witchcraft. Drowning would have proved her innocence

The roots of witchcraft

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Until the mid-1960s many historians believed witchcraft was a pre-Christian pagan fertility ritual, witches worshipping the Horned God, whose consort…

The search for meaning

19 August 2017 9:00 am

He’s not what you’d call prolific, Bernard MacLaverty. Midwinter Break is his fifth novel in 40 years, and his first…

Rebooting the sordid glamour of 1970s New York: Nick Valensi, The Strokes’s guitarist

A countercultural upheaval

19 August 2017 9:00 am

‘New York stories in a way are always real estate stories,’ says the journalist Alan Light in Lizzy Goodman’s bustling…

They shared a love of books, beekeeping, print-collecting, alchemy, geometry, music, astronomy and the English language: John Evelyn (left) and Samuel Pepys

Two enquiring minds

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Samuel Pepys, wrote John Evelyn, was ‘universally beloved, hospitable, generous, learned in many things’ and ‘skilled in music’. John Evelyn,…

The formidable Thelma Holt (right) with Vanessa Redgrave in 1987

Watching from the wings

12 August 2017 9:00 am

The story of Sweetpea Slight is a footnote to a footnote in the annals of British theatre. Even her name…

A clash of creeds

12 August 2017 9:00 am

This is a very modern novel. Terrorist atrocity sits side by side with the familiar and the mundane. Where better…

Aubrey Beardsley’s ‘The Climax’ — an illustration for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome

Flights of fancy

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Levitation. We all know what it is: the ‘disregard for gravity’, as Peter Adey puts it in his new book,…

Sheep being milked in a pen. (From the Luttrell Psalter, English School, 14th century)

Wool, wheat and wet weather

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Englishness is big business in the nation of shopkeepers, and not just in politics and tourism. In literature, the gypsy…

A feminist trailblazer

12 August 2017 9:00 am

On the evening of 28 October 1908, two unremarkable middle-class women wearing heavy overcoats gained admission to the Ladies’ Gallery,…

General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck in 1917

The German Lion of Africa

12 August 2017 9:00 am

What’s going on with book reviews? Here is the Pulitizer prizewinning (for ‘criticism’) Michael Dirda in the Washington Post, on…

Holidays with Hitler

12 August 2017 9:00 am

We don’t usually think of Hitler’s hated henchman Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Holocaust of European Jewry, as a comic…

The violence of poverty

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Neel Mukherjee has had a two-handed literary career, working as a reviewer of other people’s novels and writing his own.…

Self-portrait, with his wife Margaret

A dazzling vision

12 August 2017 9:00 am

There are a number of reports by his contemporaries of Thomas Gainsborough at work. They make you realise what a…

The maestro could hear if a single player was doing something wrong, even in the most noisy tutti

The morality of conducting

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Now he is the greatest figure for me, in the world. [Toscanini is] the last proud, noble, unbending representative (with…

Torn between envy and contempt

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Arriving at boarding school with the wrong shoes and a teddy bear in his suitcase, the hero of Elizabeth Day’s…

No pain, no gain

5 August 2017 9:00 am

It is an unexpected pleasure when fiction has a soundtrack to accompany the work of reviewing. H(A)PPY is ‘best enjoyed…

Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett performing in 1967

Pretentious rock on a grand scale

5 August 2017 9:00 am

There is many a book that has been cooked up over a liquid lunch, but rarely has one been so…

A choice of first novels

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Remember Douglas Coupland? Remember Tama Janowitz? Remember Lisa St Aubin de Terán? Banana Yoshimoto? Françoise Sagan? The voice of your…