Books

You are what you don’t eat

16 March 2024 9:00 am

In the past, the ability to preserve food depended largely on people’s means, making Eleanor Barnett’s history of food waste also a history of changing attitudes to poverty

The end of days: It Lasts Forever And Then It’s Over, by Anne de Marcken, reviewed

16 March 2024 9:00 am

‘Don’t try to picture the apocalypse’, advises the novel’s unnamed zombie narrator. ‘Everything looks exactly the way you remembered it.’

The stark horror of Barbara Comyns’s fiction was all too autobiographical

16 March 2024 9:00 am

Comyns’s fans have long enjoyed the novels’ macabre details and black humour. Now Avril Horner reveals their disturbing sources

A web of rivalries: The Extinction of Irena Rey, by Jennifer Croft, reviewed

16 March 2024 9:00 am

Eight translators gather to work on a novel written by their heroine, Irena Rey. But when she goes missing in a nearby forest, relations between them begin to fray

The tyranny of 1970s self-help gurus

16 March 2024 9:00 am

Clients pursuing ’true self’ were expected to wear identical clothes, shave their heads, self-flagellate and be ‘given hell’, while paying through the nose for it

Dinosaurs, dogma and the Victorian mind

9 March 2024 9:00 am

The ‘monsters’ dug from the cliffs of Lyme Regis did not sit well with the literal reading of Genesis – but many other issues contributed to the famed Victorian crisis of faith

The skull beneath the skin: Ghost Pains, by Jessi Jezewska Stevens, reviewed

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Pain lurks below the surface of these sardonic short stories. Happiness is fleeting, and ‘we carry death within us like a stone within a fruit’, one narrator observes

The lonely passions of Carson McCullers

9 March 2024 9:00 am

McCullers’s acclaimed first novel, written when she was 23, drew her into the orbit of several female writers with whom she fell in love – but it was never reciprocated for long

The many Jesus-like figures of the ancient world

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Early Christianity positively welcomed comparisons between Jesus and Socrates, Asclepius, Emperor Vespasian and Apollonius of Tyana, according to Catherine Nixey

The fresh, forceful voice of Frantz Fanon

9 March 2024 9:00 am

The Marxist from Martinique became a rallying figure for anti-colonial movements across the world. But might he have revised his violent message had he lived longer?

An unenviable mission: Clear, by Carys Davies, reviewed

9 March 2024 9:00 am

It is 1843, the year of the Great Disruption in the Scottish Church, and an impoverished minister is being paid to clear a lonely North Sea island of any remaining inhabitants

The problem with trying to resuscitate dying languages

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Ross Perlin is determined to support the ‘last speakers’ of endangered tongues, such as Seke. But if these speakers really are the last, they are not, in any real sense, speaking

Before the Blitz: the dynamism of British architecture

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Many competing styles flourished in the interwar years, including functionalism, art deco, neoclassicism, seaside moderne, mock-Mayan and Egyptian revivalism

The way

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Chair in a Field

2 March 2024 9:00 am

The hellraisers of Hoxton: Art, by Peter Carty, reviewed

2 March 2024 9:00 am

The pretensions of the Young British Artists are lampooned in Carty’s debut novel – but there’s still something irresistible about the 1990s London it recreates

A war reporter bravely faces death – but not from sniper fire

2 March 2024 9:00 am

As a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Rod Nordland learned to expect many dangers, but a brain tumour wasn’t one of them

A free spirit: Clairmont, by Lesley McDowell, reviewed

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Even by the Villa Diodati’s standards, Claire Clairmont was unconventional, seducing Byron when she was 18, and giving birth to their child after a possible affair with Shelley

All work and no play is dulling our senses

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Ancient Greek philosophers reckoned that life was all about free time, but 16th-century puritanism dealt a blow to the old festive culture from which we’ve never fully recovered

What became of Thomas Becket’s bones?

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Alice Roberts’s examinations of violent deaths in the past take her to the site of Becket’s murder in Canterbury cathedral and the later destruction of his shrine by Henry VIII

Longing for oblivion: The Warm Hands of Ghosts, by Katherine Arden, reviewed

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Arden’s novel spares us no details of trench warfare on the Western Front and the severely traumatised men dreaming of escape into amnesia

An Oxford spy ring is finally uncovered

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Charles Beaumont’s warped group, recruited by an eccentric fellow of Jesus College, seems all too plausible. Other thrillers from Celia Walden and Matthew Blake

The remarkable Princess Gulbadan, flower of the Mughal court

2 March 2024 9:00 am

Emperor Babur’s beloved daughter – whose name means ‘body like a rose’ – speaks to us across the centuries in a cliffhanging account of royal life in Hindustan

Do we really want to bring back the wolf?

2 March 2024 9:00 am

The apex predator is making a startling resurgence in Europe – many say to the enrichment of the landscape. But it’ll take a lot to convince the British of that