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In The Critics this week

Žižek on Avatar, Don DeLillo and Alice in Wonderland.

The philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek leads this week with an essay on the Oscar-nominated Avatar. Its "superficial Hollywood Marxism", he writes, masks what is "ideologically a rather conservative, old-fashioned film".

In Books, Leo Robson is underwhelmed by Don DeLillo's "slight yet heavy-going" Point Omega, Harry Shearer (better known as the voice of The Simpsons' Mr Burns) reviews Dave Eggers's Katrina book Zeitoun, and Francis Beckett salutes an "essential" history of the 1930s.

Also featured are Robert Hanks on the newly republished In Praise of Older Women and Alex Clark on the "mildly overblown" literary manifesto Reality Hunger.

Plus, we have our usual award-winning critics: Ryan Gilbey on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Daniel Trilling on the new teen pop, Rachel Cooke on the BBC drama Five Days, Antonia Quirke on Chopin -- and Will Self, who uncovers a disturbing truth about the goatee beard.

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