Memoir

Carry on up the Zambezi

7 September 2019 9:00 am

I loved this book so much I was appalled. Why, when bookshops are stacked full of memoirs by authors who…

For the inhabitants of Ramallah, ‘home’ is just a memory

10 August 2019 9:00 am

On a rainy day in 1955, four-year-old Raja Shehadeh left school without putting his coat on. ‘I will soon be…

Midlife crisis in Montana

8 June 2019 9:00 am

For Joanna Pocock, a midlife crisis is the moment in which ‘bored of the rhythm of our days, whatever those…

From the Odyssey to Njals Saga: a voyage round the great myths

8 June 2019 9:00 am

Six remarkable stories shape this book. Tracing the trajectories of the Odyssey to the Icelandic Njals Saga, via the Kosovo…

My agonising vigil over my twins’ fight for life

8 June 2019 9:00 am

Memoirs about giving birth, a subject once shrouded in mystery, have become so popular that another may seem otiose. We…

The London I loved: nostalgia for a dirty old town

1 June 2019 9:00 am

All cities are shapeshifters, but London is special. London is a palimpsest of places gone but not lost. Even as…

Greece is the word for the New Yorker’s Comma Queen

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Mary Norris’s book about her love affair with Greece and the Greek language starts with a terrific chapter about alphabets.…

Searching for the sublime in deep dark holes

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Edmund Burke, as a young Irish lawyer in 1756, first made the distinction between beauty and sublimity. Beauty for Burke…

Looking back on Baku

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The discovery of oil in Baku brought Ummulbanu Asadullayeva’s family respect if not respectability. Peasant-born, her grandparents ranked by the…

How poetry turned a failing comprehensive into one of Oxford’s most oversubscribed schools

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Kate Clanchy is an extraordinary person. She is a veteran of 30 years’ teaching in difficult state schools, as well…

Should adoptive parents be allowed to pick and choose their child?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The sorrow of involuntary childlessness is profound. The award-winning novelist Patrick Flanery and his husband knew this pain. Their craving…

Magda was beautiful, perfectly proportioned and elegant — all things her son had not appreciated when she was alive

How my mother survived the Nazis, but took her own life

23 February 2019 9:00 am

When the poet George Szirtes returned as an adult to Budapest, the city of his birth which he had left…

How I tried – and spectacularly failed – to assist my mother’s suicide

9 February 2019 9:00 am

‘If your time ain’t come, not even a doctor can kill you’ — so goes the proverb that best echoes…

Tracey Thorn performing at the Palace, Los Angeles in 1985

The day I woke up… to hear that only Tracey Thorn loved me

9 February 2019 9:00 am

It’s unusual for musicians to become writers. The trajectory of yearning is meant to be the other way around. When…

Francis Bacon in front of his triptych at the Galerie Claude Bernard in the Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris in 1977

France gets a taste for Bacon

12 January 2019 9:00 am

The case of Michael Peppiatt is a curious one. He first met Francis Bacon when he was an undergraduate at…

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In Epping Forest’s dark undergrowth

12 January 2019 9:00 am

In this current era of identity politics and a more fluid approach to gender and sexuality amongst a younger generation,…

Portrait of Casanova. Credit: Getty Images

Casanova: the scandalous libertine who seduced his own daughter

5 January 2019 9:00 am

This monumental unabridged audio production of Casanova’s memoir The Story of My Life in three volumes covers his first 49…

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Insomnia is key to my creativity

3 November 2018 9:00 am

A genre of memoir currently in vogue involves entwining the author’s personal story with the cultural history of a given…

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If only we could hibernate all winter

3 November 2018 9:00 am

As travel writer, nature writer, memory retriever and, I would add, prose-poet of mesmerising lyricism, Horatio Clare is a celebrant…

‘We are not cattle, we’re people’: everyday hell in Stalin’s labour camps

11 August 2018 9:00 am

‘No testimony from this time must ever be forgotten,’ the great Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova says in his afterword to…

It’s the wreckage of alcoholism, not the road to recovery, that makes for enthralling reading

16 June 2018 9:00 am

The Recovering by Leslie Jamison, novelist, columnist, bestselling essayist and assistant professor at Colombia University, makes for bracing reading. Clever,…

Fried squid, stale sweat and sensuality in Ian Buruma’s Tokyo

12 May 2018 9:00 am

In 1975, the 24-year-old Ian Buruma (now an award-winning essayist and historian, and the editor of the New York Review…

Rao Pingru and his siblings make a lion lantern with their mother

Enduring life under Chairman Mao

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Rao Pingru is 94, and a born storyteller. His gripping graphic narrative weaves in and out of the violent, disruptive…

Portrait of Helen by John Bellany

The ordeal of being married (twice) to John Bellany

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Misery memoirs are in vogue. There is much misery in this harrowing account of married life with John Bellany (1942–2013)…

Lamont ‘U-God’ Hawkins in 1995

The futile gang wars of New York

5 May 2018 9:00 am

I’ve interviewed a lot of rappers over the years and always feel a little grimy when I find myself nudging…