A view of the Himalayan Mountain range of Annapurna and Mount Machhapuchre. PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

The pleasure of reading Rumer Godden’s India

27 February 2013 11:07

Rumer Godden’s prose tugs two ways at once. It is subtle, descriptive, and light, but also direct and unashamed of being turned inside out until darkness consumes it, rendering what… Continue reading

Ioana Timoce sits at a cafe terrace with her new book. Image: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Doing it the French way

21 February 2013 10:49

‘Where have all the great French writers gone?’ the people cry. Or at least they would if anyone was interested in French books. Translated literature claims just 3 per cent… Continue reading

Craig Raine's thesis is that fiction is franker than reminiscence; if you want to understand Salman Rushdie, read 'The Satanic Verses' rather than 'Joseph Anton'. Image: Getty

Craig Raine: Fiction is franker

20 February 2013 10:17

Issue 39 of Areté starts with the words “MEMOIR ISSUE” on the front cover. It is dedicated to writing which remembers its author. Hence we get essays on Proust; Art… Continue reading

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English Romantic poet George Gordon Byron in Albanian dress, painted by Thomas Phillips circa 1815. Image: Getty

How did you do? Answers to our Young Romantics quiz

13 February 2013 18:30

Here are the answers to the quiz posted last week. The winner will receive a signed first edition of Lynn Shepherd’s new novel, A Treacherous Likeness, which was inspired by the… Continue reading

P. G. Wodehouse

In praise of Plum

8 February 2013 12:26

This blog post is not going to say anything original. You’ll have read it all before. Its sole purpose is to convince you that P.G. Wodehouse is the master so… Continue reading

People walk on the snow-covered Pont de

Writing of walking

7 February 2013 10:00

At 3pm this afternoon Radio 4’s Ramblings with Clare Balding will broadcast a programme about The Walking Book Club, to which Emily Rhodes belongs. ‘I love walking in London,’ said… Continue reading

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Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift pose in an old still from the film 'A Place In The Sun' (1951). Image: Getty

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor: beyond chemistry

6 February 2013 17:00

Regularly voted one of the greatest American novels of the last century, Theodore Dreiser’s moralising epic An American Tragedy (1925) hasn’t aged well. Adapted for the cinema as A Place… Continue reading

A publicity shot for the 2005 adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice', starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Image: Getty

What’s love got to do with it?

30 January 2013 15:56

In her Times column on Monday (£), Libby Purves valiantly attempted to fit together two things that were obviously on her mind. Discussing Pride and Prejudice, which is 200 years… Continue reading

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David Mitchell: 'I look back at that kid and think, what were you thinking!' Image: Getty

Interview with a writer: David Mitchell

25 January 2013 14:00

David Mitchell slaps a big hand on his head. ‘I look back at that kid and think, what were you thinking! How dare you, idiot!’ He is talking about his… Continue reading

Elvis Presley appears in a dream to Enoch O’Reilly, the "hero" of Peter Murphy's 'Shall We Gather At The River', and Enoch is compelled to become a radiovangelist, albeit one who does not believe in God. Image: Getty

Review – Shall We Gather At The River, by Peter Murphy

24 January 2013 17:09

Shall We Gather At The River is a book of unfortunate endings — the stories of nine suicides hang from a plot-line that tells of a freak flood in the… Continue reading

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Junot Diaz, author of 'This is How You Lose Her'. Image: Getty

Junot Diaz, the new Saul Bellow

23 January 2013 17:29

Every so often a writer renovates a whole literary landscape from underneath. Armed to the teeth with slang and learning, Saul Bellow reinvented American prose with The Adventures of Augie… Continue reading

'Big Brother' watches over Winston Smith (Edmond O'Brien) and Julia (Jan Sterling), during the filming of the 1955 adaptation of '1984'. Image: Getty

Do we need George Orwell Day?

21 January 2013 14:28

I doubt that George Orwell needs ‘George Orwell Day’. Aldous Huxley, Henry Green, J.G. Ballard, each of those dead writers might benefit from a bit of sponsorship, and so might we.… Continue reading

Robert Harris, author of 'The Ghost'. Image: Getty

Set down one sentence

17 January 2013 8:36

Warning: this is a very January 17th sort of thought. It’s meant to be comforting, though you may well find it the exact opposite. Try it on for size, anyway,… Continue reading

Israeli militiamen operate outside Jerusalem during the 1948 war. Image: Getty

Yoram Kaniuk, reluctant soldier in 1948

11 January 2013 10:00

Yoram Kaniuk was born in Tel Aviv in 1930. After his experience in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Kaniuk moved to New York where he became a painter in Greenwich… Continue reading

Some literary '13's for 2013. Image: Getty

Some literary thirteens for 2013

10 January 2013 15:28

I suspect I might not be the only one who finds it unnerving to be at the start of a year that features, so prominently, the number thirteen. 2013 –… Continue reading


The Costa Book Awards make history

2 January 2013 19:32

The Costa Book Awards has made its own history tonight by selecting, according to its press release, an all women shortlist* for the first time. Here are the category winners,… Continue reading


The great books Spectator writers and others hate

21 December 2012 10:00

Find out which books PD James, Sam Leith, Susan Hill, Mark Amory, Barry Humphries and many more hate, then tell us about yours in the comments section. Craig Brown Which… Continue reading


‘Turboparalysis’ Revisited

20 December 2012 18:33

The word ‘turboparalysis’, coined by Michael Lind (who has a brilliant piece on the subject in the Spectator Christmas double issue), is paradoxical, even illogical. And yet it is clear, perfect for… Continue reading

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech under portraits of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Getty: Image.

Simin Daneshvar, Persia’s first female novelist and hope for Iran’s future

11 December 2012 14:40

There is a Persian proverb which states that ‘books are a man’s best friend.’ Persian literature from the kings of antiquity to the last Shah of the Peacock Throne has,… Continue reading

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Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling and the albatross of success

6 December 2012 9:30

Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, has announced that her next book will be a picture book. Rather than writing a follow-up dystopian adventure for her teenage readers, she… Continue reading

Graydon Carter and Anna Scott at this year's Vanity Fair Oscars party. Image: Getty

Shelf Life: Graydon Carter

5 December 2012 9:23

Editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, is this week’s Shelf Lifer. He reveals a predilection for Herman Wouk, an in depth knowledge of certain sections of the Eaton’s catalogue and… Continue reading

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A picture taken from the recent show drawing inspiration from Titian's Diana and Actaeon

Bad Sex Award

29 November 2012 9:53

Loins are girded and members tumescent, for next Tuesday sees the presentation of this year’s Bad Sex Award. The Literary Review’s annual prize for the worst description of sex in… Continue reading

The White Review has created a new short story prize for unpublished writers. Time to get sit down at the desk and start writing. Image: Getty.

A new short story prize, courtesy of The White Review

28 November 2012 11:54

Where to publish my fiction? The question will have occupied all aspiring writers. It is famously hard to publish fiction in Britain, which is why each of the few prizes for… Continue reading

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Dmitry Vrubel's picture of Leonid Brezhnev kissing Erich Honecker, whose rule provide the backdrop to Stefan Heym's 'The Architects' and indeed Heym's life. Image: Getty

Eastern promises – the rediscovery of Stefan Heym

27 November 2012 11:36

A German Jew fleeing Nazism to America; a soldier in the D-Day landings; a US citizen moving to the GDR for the socialist cause; a writer denounced by the Party;… Continue reading

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Somerset probably would have approved of NaNoWriMo, a scheme that encourages aspiring authors to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Image: Getty

Write a novel in a month

15 November 2012 17:54

Could you write a novel in a month? Plenty of people around the world are trying to do just that right at the moment. November, you see, is National Novel… Continue reading