In the Critics this week

Barack Obama's rise to power, Central Europe's literary legacy and the life of Syd Barrett.

This week, Adam Thirlwell discusses the abiding legacy of central Europe's literature, while Alec MacGillis peruses New Yorker editor David Remnick's biography of Barack Obama.

Elsewhere, Peter Watts reports from the British Library's new exhibition "Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art", while Jude Rogers is impressed by Rob Chapman's balanced biography of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett. Ryan Gilbey salutes Lebanon, an innovative new war film from the Middle East and Fisun Guner visits the Victoria and Albert museum for the latest installation from visual art collective Artangel.

Plus, we have columns from our usual award-winning critics: Rachel Cooke on television, Antonia Quirke on Radio and Will Self on food.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.