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In the Critics this week

Arts and books in the latest issue of the NS

We're delighted to make room in The Critics in this week's New Statesman for an exclusive short story by the novelist Hari Kunzru. "The Culture House" is a parable of sorts, a reminder that the decade we've just lived through was defined in part by the annexation of the art world by high finance. Here, the narrator describes the fate of the work of a dead painter named Gerald Gow:

In the early days of the boom, once a luxury imported car and an office in one of the new plate-glass towers blackening the city skyline were no longer enough to distinguish you from the herd, people started writing large cheques to architects and one of the things they wanted for their signature waterfront properties was a Gow to hang over the dining table -- the bigger and blacker the better -- a way of demonstrating to their envious peers that a wine cellar and a boat and first-class air travel were all very well, but they had soul, they owned a little piece of what made us ourselves.

In the real world, bust has followed boom, of course, and, as Anna Minton writes this week, "the energy in British contemporary art is moving away from big money and towards work that is not defined by the market. A new generation of not-for-profit, independent galleries, in tune with a more critical tradition, is emerging."

Elsewhere, Ryan Gilbey reviews a Mexican hommage to the French New Wave, Rachel Cooke looks back to the golden age of Granada Television, and Antonia Quirke is seduced by the alien-hunter Seth Shostak.

This week's lead book review is by Leo Robson, who has spent some time wrestling with Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors's gargantuan New Literary History of America. We also have Alex Clark on Javier Marías, Andrew Gamble on "Eight Centuries of Financial Folly", and Denis MacShane on Vince Cable.

And we look forward, too -- to the best new books, film, opera and visual art of 2010.