Nadine Dorries’s book is a surprise bestseller

5 June 2014 17:49

Nadine Dorries’s novel, Four Streets, may have been unilaterally panned by the critics, with the Telegraph’s Christopher Howse labelling it the ‘the worst novel I’ve read in 10 years’, but… Continue reading

Elizabeth Jane Howard photographed in 1956.

Elizabeth Jane Howard 1923 – 2014

3 January 2014 9:07

The novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard died yesterday at the age of 90. She is most famous for the series of 14 Cazelet novels; the last of which, All Change, was… Continue reading

Philip Hensher at the time of his own Booker shortlisting, for The Northern Clemency

Man Booker prize shortlist 2013 - how was our tipping?

10 September 2013 12:28

One of Philip Hensher’s many qualities as a critic is that he doesn’t take prisoners. So his entertaining and judicious guide to the Man Booker longlist ended like this: ‘The… Continue reading

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland, which has been longlisted for Booker, was partly inspired by watching her children's relationship.

Interview with a writer: Jhumpa Lahiri, author of Booker longlisted The Lowland

9 September 2013 9:30

The Lowland is the magnificent new novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, which has been longlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize. It tells the story of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan,… Continue reading

Tashlich Ceremony Observed By Jews During Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah reading list

5 September 2013 9:57

Happy New Year! No, it isn’t three months’ early if you’re Jewish, and those of you who aren’t might like to cash in on the celebration. So, in honour of… Continue reading

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Will Jim Crace succeed Hilary Mantel as winner of the Booker Prize? The bookies seem to think so.

Bookies following Philip Hensher’s Booker shortlist

4 September 2013 12:22

The Guardian notes that Ladbrokes and William Hill share Philip Hensher’s hunch for the Booker shortlist, which is to be unveiled next week. ‘Hunch’ isn’t the right word. Hensher wrote… Continue reading

A general view of the 18th green on the Alcadeisa Golf Club

Hitler’s missed opportunity: failing to smash the rock of Gibraltar

3 September 2013 11:37

It may be that only geological erosion, expected to occur sometime over the next ten million years, will finally remove Gibraltar as a source of friction between Britain and Spain.… Continue reading

The trailer from Danny Boyle's recent National Theatre adaptation of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

What if Byron and the Shelleys had live tweeted from the Villa Diodati?

2 September 2013 13:38

It’s one of the most famous – indeed infamous – episodes in English literary history. In the summer of 1816 Lord Byron took a villa on the banks of Lake… Continue reading


My holiday from reading books is to read them as Caxton intended

29 August 2013 10:30

On hearing that Easy Jet had changed its hand luggage allowance, two questions struck me. First, was the airline in league with the luggage makers’ guild? Second, which paperbacks would… Continue reading

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Lore Segal's novel 'Half the Kingdom' is an ambitious but ultimately unrewarding novel about dementia patients.

Losing Your Mind – The Novel That Induces Insanity

28 August 2013 10:30

Nobody wants to go mad. We try to live healthy lives so that we won’t die slowly of lung cancer or quickly from a heart attack. But what we let… Continue reading

57th Annual Writers Guild Awards - Inside

How long until novels are published with video inserts?

27 August 2013 10:30

In Charlie Kauffman’s Bafta lecture (a startlingly honest reflection on film writing, and well worth a listen), the screenwriter, producer and director stresses that it is of the utmost importance,… Continue reading

'In Times of Fading Light' by Eugen Ruge tells the story of one German family's conflicts over the course of 70 years.

Review: In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge – a tale of rebellion and conformity

21 August 2013 15:30

In Times of Fading Light’s seven narrators exist in an almost permanent state of bewildered disappointment. Given that the narrators are various generations of the same family, what we’re shown… Continue reading

Elmore Leonard

On borrowing Elmore Leonard

20 August 2013 16:59

When you walk into a new branch library, or stumble across an unfamiliar secondhand bookshop, which writer do you look for? They can’t be too obscure; the idea is to… Continue reading

Marie Duplessis, shortly before her death

The week in books – a 19th century career woman, the courtesan of the camellias, Vasily Grossman and why France is turning into the USA

16 August 2013 13:40

The forecast is bad. Football is back. Gloom strikes. Cure the malaise by reading the book reviews in this week’s Spectator. Here’s a selection: Richard Davenport-Hines introduces the celebrated American novelist… Continue reading

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Ballistics by DW Wilson is in the great tradition of outwardly macho but inwardly haunting epics, such as The Big Country - William Wyler's 1958 film - featured here.

‘Ballistics’ by D.W.Wilson is a novel about what it really is to be a man

14 August 2013 10:34

Ballistics is the debut novel from D W Wilson. It playfully and interestingly twists and pulls at the heart of what we understand about human relationships. This is rural Canada,… Continue reading

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City Types

A book you must read: Berlin Noir, the Bernie Gunther saga

7 August 2013 15:32

One of the givens in detective fiction these days is that the sleuth should be deeply flawed. You almost expect, as you pry open the pages of the latest overnight… Continue reading

Roddy Doyle. (Image: Mark Nixon 2013)

Roddy Doyle: I’m a middle class person commenting on working class life

6 August 2013 13:09

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. He first came to prominence with his debut novel The Commitments, which he self-published in Ireland in 1987. The book was then… Continue reading

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plato-head shot

Plato – slave-owning aristocrat or homosexual mystic?

30 July 2013 15:45

For over two millennia, the writings of Plato had been at the very core of a Western education. Yet  by the dawn of the 21st century, Plato appeared marginalized to… Continue reading

One of Finn Dean’s winning illustrations for the Folio Society’s Brave New World

Some brilliant book reviews

26 July 2013 15:06

As ever, the Spectator carries some splendid and erudite book reviews this week. There are contributions from stellar writers and thinkers such as Margaret MacMillan, Susan Hill, Alexander Chancellor and… Continue reading

13 authors are in the running to succeed Hilary Mantel as the winner of the Man Booker Prize. Photo: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Booker Prize longlist announced

23 July 2013 13:33

The longlist for the 2013 Booker Prize has been announced (it is below). Most of the commentary surrounding the announcement is about the length of chosen books. Robert Macfarlane, who led the judging panel,… Continue reading

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Old books, Getty Images

Stoner by John Williams – review

22 July 2013 10:41

Faced with a book as simple and true as Stoner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of intentional fallacy. It is the portrait of a quiet farm boy, who… Continue reading

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Cumbrian Rural Bus Services Faces Cutbacks

The slow slide into senility

18 July 2013 10:16

Senility is a cunning mistress. She’s always finding new ways to twist your melon, man. The latest trick she’s playing on me is Western House Syndrome. I should point out… Continue reading

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JK Rowling: she's worth it

J.K. Rowling’s “Robert Galbraith” trick reveals nothing of how publishers really treat unknown novelists

16 July 2013 17:30

Is it okay for struggling authors to talk about promotion and marketing and how they are dealt with by publishers? Apparently so.  The aspiring novelist Robert Galbraith knew rejection. His… Continue reading

Clive James has translated The Divine Comedy by Dante (pictured).

Clive James – laughing and loving

8 July 2013 17:19

Clive James was a recurring presence in last weekend’s literary press. There was, I regret to say, a valedictory feel to the coverage. Robert McCrum, of the Guardian, was not… Continue reading


The week in books

24 June 2013 14:25

This week’s issue of the Spectator is packed with book reviews. Here’s a selection of quotes to whet your appetite. Old China hand Jonathan Mirsky finds much to applaud in… Continue reading