Books

Pink for boys, blue for girls and a worldwide mania for mauve

9 October 2021 9:00 am

Honor Clerk explores the history of the world through colour, from the Stone Age to orbiting the Moon

Only time will tell if there’ll be a Great Pandemic Novel

9 October 2021 9:00 am

We had been dreading it like (forgive me) the plague: the inevitable onslaught of corona-lit. Fortunately, the first few titles…

The country house is dead: that’s why we love it so

9 October 2021 9:00 am

The true English disease is Downton Syndrome. Symptoms include a yearning for a past of chivalry, grandeur and unambiguously stratified…

The magic of manuscripts

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Nothing captures medieval life more vividly than a manuscript that has passed through many hands, says Jonathan Sumption

How 19th-century gold rushes led to a distrust of China

2 October 2021 9:00 am

For a brief moment three summers ago it seemed that the clear Idaho air wafting through the Sun Valley Literary…

How does David Sedaris get away with saying the unsayable?

2 October 2021 9:00 am

These aren’t diaries in the sense that Chips Channon kept diaries, or Samuel Pepys. They aren’t diaries at all, beyond…

Unkindly light: The Morning Star, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, reviewed

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle sequence is one of this century’s great projects: an intimate epic in which the overriding…

Mind games: the blurred line between fact and fiction

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Readers of Case Study unfamiliar with its author’s previous work might believe they have stumbled on a great psychotherapy scandal.…

Paradise and paradox: an inner pilgrimage into John Milton

2 October 2021 9:00 am

When E. Nesbit published Wet Magic in 1913 (a charming novel in which the children encounter a mermaid), she took…

Wrapped up in satire, a serious lesson about the fine line between success and scandal

2 October 2021 9:00 am

Have you heard of champing? Neither had I. Turns out it’s camping in a field beside a deserted church. When…

A 21st-century Holden Caulfield: The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozecki, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

The world Ruth Ozeki creates in The Book of Form & Emptiness resembles one of the snow globes that pop…

The coal mining conundrum: why did the NUM fight so hard for its members’ right to suffer underground?

25 September 2021 9:00 am

Anyone with a grasp of the history of Britain knows that its once considerable power, and much of its still…

Flight into danger: Freight Dogs, by Giles Foden, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

Flying has always attracted chancers and characters to Africa. Wilbur Smith’s father so loved aviation he named his son to…

China and the WHO are given an easy ride in the Covid blame game

25 September 2021 9:00 am

Are you ready to relive 2020? That’s what Adam Tooze is offering as he tells the story of Covid-19 through…

The first patrons of Modernism deserve much sympathy and respect

25 September 2021 9:00 am

If Modernism is a jungle, how do you navigate a path through its thickets? Some explorers — Peter Gay and…

From salivating dogs to mass indoctrination: Pavlov’s sinister legacy

25 September 2021 9:00 am

Peter Pomeranzev describes the refinement of thought-control techniques over the past century – and the worldwide competition to employ them

T.S. Eliot’s preoccupations in wartime Britain

25 September 2021 9:00 am

In her essay ‘A House of One’s Own’, about Vanessa Bell, Janet Malcolm says memorably that Bloomsbury is a fiction,…

Thoroughly modern Marie: Matrix, by Lauren Groff, reviewed

25 September 2021 9:00 am

It is 1158. A 17-year-old girl, born of both rape and royal blood, is cast out of the French court…

The war that changed the world in the early seventh century

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It was not a war to end all wars, writes James Howard-Johnston at the start of this illuminating and thought-provoking…

Only Iain Sinclair could glimpse Hackney in the wilds of Peru

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It seemed like a preposterous proposition. For decades, Iain Sinclair has been an assiduous psychogeographer of London, an eldritch cartographer…

How China’s economic revolution created billionaires overnight

18 September 2021 9:00 am

In the winter of 1992, the retired octogenarian Deng Xiaoping toured China’s southern coasts. From there he gave a spirited…

No Samuel Beckett play is set in stone

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It must have been shortly after my first performance of Not I in London in 2005 when Matthew Evans, the…

The secret life of Thomas Mann: The Magician, by Colm Tóibín, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

In a letter to Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden, who had married Thomas Mann’s daughter Erika sight unseen in order to…

Is there intelligent life on other planets?: Bewilderment, by Richard Powers, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

We open with Theo, our narrator, and Robin, his son, looking at the night sky through a telescope. ‘Darkness this…

Try forest bathing – by day and night – to ward off depression

18 September 2021 9:00 am

Anyone who spends time among trees senses how good that is for their physical and mental wellbeing, says Ursula Buchan