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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


In defence of Giles Coren

30 November 2012 16:58

Giles Coren’s piece in the latest issue of the Spectator has caused a stir in the world of graphic novels (‘comic books’ to the uninitiated). He notes that two excellent… Continue reading

Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Pip and Estella pose for pictures at the BFI's 'Great Expectations' gala night. Image: Getty

Mike Newell’s Great Expectations will leave you with great questions

30 November 2012 13:43

You cannot have failed to learn that a new film adaptation of Great Expectations has been released today. Publicity for the film is ubiquitous: posters of Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch… Continue reading

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There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. - Spectator Blogs

13 November 2012 23:02

My thanks to Bella Caledonia for republishing Robert Louis Stevenson’s splendid essay An Apology for Idlers on this the 162nd anniversary of that fine man’s birth. It is the grandest… Continue reading

Samuel Richardson's Pamela - 'virtuous herione' or 'pert little minx'? Image: Getty

Puffing Pamela: Book hype, 18th-century style

7 November 2012 17:11

There are quite a few candidates competing for the title of the first novel in English literature. You can make a strong case for Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, or… Continue reading

Bobbies on the beat. Sir Kenneth Newman and chum beat the areas of North London described by Keith Ridgeway in Hawthorne & Child. Image: Getty

Review – Hawthorn and Child, by Keith Ridgeway

30 October 2012 10:30

‘The body is a multitude of ways of coming apart’ writes Keith Ridgeway in his most recent novel Hawthorn & Child. He describes these ways. It can be beaten, broken… Continue reading

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Way Of The Cross Led By Pope Benedict XVI

Thornton Wilder’s theatrics in The Cabala

29 October 2012 10:30

I was on a date once in Atlanta, Georgia. We decided on the theatre and there was only one show playing, The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. After… Continue reading

Jimmy Savile, national treasure and indemnified pervert. Those who created him need to be examined. Image: Getty

The Jimmy Savile scandal and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

25 October 2012 17:23

‘The line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being… This line is not static within us; it sways to and fro over the years. Even… Continue reading

'Train Dreams', by Denis Johnson, is the story of 'the old way of American life'. Images: Getty

Back to the start – Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson

22 October 2012 10:01

Train Dreams, the Pulitzer nominated novella by playwright, poet and U.S National Book Award winning novelist Denis Johnson, is the life story of Robert Grainer, a man who ‘had one… Continue reading

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Charlie Croker has a new book out. Image: Getty.

To take or not to take a pseudonym

18 October 2012 14:04

Literary pseudonyms have been on my mind lately, for a couple of reasons. The first is Salman Rushdie’s revelation that he chose ‘Joseph Anton’ as his cover name when in… 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

Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies wins the Booker Prize

16 October 2012 21:49

Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies has won the Booker Prize, which seems right because it is the most accomplished book on the list – challenging but fundamentally readable thanks to the… Continue reading

Who will succeed Julian Barnes as the winner of the Booker Prize? Image: Getty.

Your guide to the Booker Prize

16 October 2012 10:29

Assorted literary grandees will squeeze into their tuxes this evening to compete for the Booker Prize. Of the debut novelists, one previous winner and a brace of old-timers, who stands the… Continue reading

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The Earl of Rochester's poetry remains valuable because it is still transgressive. Image: Getty.

The shock value of John Wilmot, earl of Rochester

15 October 2012 17:26

‘The Maidenhead’ Have you not in a chimney seen A sullen faggot wet and green, How coyly it receives the heat, And at both ends does fume and sweat? So… Continue reading

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Ian McEwan has declared the novella to be the 'supreme literary form'. Where does this leave the novel? Image: Getty

Ian McEwan’s novel questions

15 October 2012 12:41

Brevity does not imply levity. That, at least, is the view of Ian McEwan. The national treasure was speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival over the weekend when he crowned… Continue reading

The award of the Nobel prize has not hidden the EU's existential strain; if anything, it has exposed it further.

The Nobel Prize’s EU joke prompts questions about the nation state

12 October 2012 16:38

The award of the Nobel Prize to the European Union is a tremendous joke; and like all great jokes it has brought people together. Commentators of left and right are… Continue reading

Chinese author Mo Yan autographs his boo

The politics of the Nobel Prize for literature

11 October 2012 14:34

The Nobel committee have delivered their verdict on the literature prize: Mo Yan is new laureate. Over at the books blog, I explain why this is an important decision politically.… Continue reading

Mo Yan is the new Nobel Laureate. Image: Getty.

Mo Yan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

11 October 2012 13:44

The new Nobel laureate is Mo Yan, a Chinese writer. He is the first Chinese citizen to win the prize, and doubtless will become the first of many as China’s… Continue reading

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The Gospels have been translated into patois, the creole spoken as the primary language of most Jamaicans. Image: Getty.

Spreading the Word through patois

10 October 2012 12:35

The Jamaican High Commission in London held a party last night to launch a patois translation of the Gospels. The translation, published by the Bible Society, is the culmination of… Continue reading


Richard Millet and the nihilism of multiculturalism

5 October 2012 14:10

It’s the last day of banned book week but perhaps we should spare a thought for banned editors. An editor at Éditions Gallimard, who worked on Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly… Continue reading

James Lasdun's latest collection of poems 'Water Sessions' uses liquid as a motif to examine male sexual desire. Image: Getty.

Interview: James Lasdun’s art

5 October 2012 11:49

James Lasdun published his first book of short stories The Silver Age in 1985. The debut won him The Dylan Thomas Award, and was followed by Three Evenings another book… Continue reading

Enid Blyton had a 6,000-a-day habit. Image: Getty

How many words are there in a day?

4 October 2012 14:37

‘Write your own name a hundred times,’ T.H. White once commented, ‘and you will be bored; seven hundred times and you will be exasperated; seven thousand times, and your brains… Continue reading

Indian Muslims burn an effigy of Salman Rushdie. Image: Getty.

Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ revisited

17 September 2012 11:34

The publication of Joseph Anton (tomorrow), Salman Rushdie’s much anticipated memoir, has given newspapers cause to revisit The Satanic Verses. The commentary focuses on the bloodthirsty and backward response that the… Continue reading

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Javier Marías is bound to win the Nobel Prize for Literature at some point, so it’s best to make sure that you’ve something to say when he does. Image: Getty

An introduction to Javier Marías

13 September 2012 12:31

The fundamental purpose of the literary critic is to incentivise his audience to read books of which he approves. He has two means at his disposal. The first of those… Continue reading

Billy Bragg Performs At O2 Academy In Leicester

Shelf Life: Kate Tempest

12 September 2012 13:34

Kate Tempest started out as a 16-year-old rapper in London. Now she performs the spoken word, reading her poetry, rhymes and prose to stage audiences across the world. She has also written… Continue reading

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What does Howard Jacobson make of today's Booker Prize shortlist? Image: Getty.

Booker Prize shortlist announced

11 September 2012 13:10

The 2012 Booker Prize shortlist has been announced. The runners and riders are: Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books) Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories/Faber &… Continue reading