A highway patrol officer guarding shops from looters during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Photo: Peter Turnley/Corbis
Keeping it real: All Involved by Ryan Gattis
By Leo Robson - 02 July 9:29

This novel about the 1992 Los Angeles riots holds itself to a standard of verisimilitude – of the raw, unvarnished, authentic – that is is deeply immersive and deathly dull.

The rise and fall of Peg Plunkett, 18th-century courtesan and consummate memoirist
By Sarah Dunant - 02 July 8:49

If sex in the past – in the sense of what people did to each other, in or out of bed – is notoriously hard to pin down, the larger history of sexuality and society is most rewarding.

Backhand compliment: Roger Federer in 2014. Photo: Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
How Roger Federer made tennis beautiful again
By Simon Kuper - 02 July 8:43

This very enjoyable biography-cum-autobiography illuminates not just Federer’s place in tennis history but also the way in which the author converted his psychological problems into sporting fandom.

SRSLY #1: Grey Beginnings

In the first episode of the NS's new pop culture podcast, we discuss Grey by E L James, the new Amy Winehouse documentary, and why One Direction is actually the saddest music you will ever hear.

Harry Potter in his cupboard under the stairs.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: what can we expect from JK Rowling's new play?
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 26 June 11:10

J K Rowling announced on Twitter this morning that she will co-write a new Harry Potter stage play. 

Blood and honour: The Duel After the Masquerade (1857-59) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Picture: © Walter Art Museum, Baltimore
Why are there so many duels in literature?
By John Mullan - 25 June 15:15

John Leigh's Touché: the Duel in Literature wears its learning lightly.

Romantic revolutionary: Pushkin is seen as the founder of modern Russian literature. Photo: AKG-Images
Russian soul reawakened: startling revelations in a new anthology of Russian poetry
By George Szirtes - 25 June 10:19

The new Penguin Book of Russian Poetry has surprises to offer.

Steve Hilton is offering energetic ideas with a liberal twist. Photo: Sarah Lee/Guardian News & Media
Kind of blue: why Steve Hilton's manifesto is a challenge to the left
By Jon Cruddas - 25 June 10:11

Where is the equivalent to Hilton on the left? We have not even touched on the questions of human fulfilment, power and radical democracy that are offered up by modern technological change.

Hand in hand: Chinese and Pakistani border guards at the Khunjerab Pass, which extends between their countries
Farewell to the American century
By Mark Leonard - 25 June 10:09

As US influence wanes, a new world is emerging.

No resistance: an anti-drone protest in Pakistan.
Eyes in the sky: the legal and philosophical implications of drone warfare
By David Patrikarakos - 25 June 10:07

Regardless of its critics, drone warfare is here to stay.

Sometimes these characters go dancing in Shoreditch or Clapham – but they never enjoy it. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Check your privilege: satire is lacking in Left of the Bang by Claire Lowdon
By Philip Maughan - 25 June 10:05

A “cast of two-dimensional, middle-class bores” prevent this debut novel becoming the “Vanity Fair for our times” that it promises.

The original game espoused the opposite political views to the now world-famous version. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Do not pass go: the tangled roots of Monopoly
By Erica Wagner - 24 June 10:14

The classic Great Depression rags-to-riches story of how the enduringly popular board game came to be invented isn’t quite as simple as it seems.

A man reads a Kindle in Victoria Tower Gardens. Image: Getty.
Amazon to pay authors according to how many pages people read
By Barbara Speed - 22 June 15:53

The company will pay self-published authors on its lending services per page from next month. 

The Jam play the Manchester Apollo, 1980. Photo: Harry Potts/Flickr
Slaves to the rhythm: what the non-frontmen have to say
By James Medd - 18 June 12:42

Accounts of The Jam, the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper and Belle and Sebastian come from the back.

László Krasznahorkai after receiving the Man Booker International Award. Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Man Booker winner László Krasznahorkai is not “difficult” – only defiant
By Jane Shilling - 18 June 12:38

Seiobo There Below, translated by Ottilie Mulzet, is László Krasznahorkai's most recent novel in English.

Right to roam: our minds’ ability to wander is what allows us to forge creative links. Picture: © Martin O'Neil
This is your brain on unread emails: does the information age stop us thinking straight?
By Sophie McBain - 18 June 12:10

Three new books explore the modern information assault - and how to survive it.

Peer review: Shaw “crowded his pages with writers’ names to show he was no solitary eccentric, but part of an international zeitgeist”. Photo: AKG-Images
“I want to be the Irish Nietzsche”: what the Übermensch meant to Bernard Shaw
By Michael Holroyd - 18 June 12:08

What did Shaw admire in Nietzsche? In the absence of God, both were seeking a purpose.

James Rhodes performs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images
In pianist James Rhodes' self-hatred, there is a compelling case for empathy
By Caroline Crampton - 18 June 12:06

In his memoir Instrumental, it feels at times as though Rhodes is daring you to dismiss him, to find his story trivial or inferior.

Meditate wildly: a drawing by Kundera from the 1970s.
In Milan Kundera’s first new novel in 15 years, the novelty begins to wear thin
By Leo Robson - 18 June 11:53

Over the past 30 years, virtually all of Kundera’s innovations have been either imitated or overtaken. Kundera's challenge is to outlive his own novelty.

The great outdoors: much of the new writing on nature explores both the internal and external worlds of the authors. Photo: Sandra Cunningham/Trevillion Images
Death of the naturalist: why is the “new nature writing” so tame?
By Mark Cocker - 17 June 10:05

The so-called new nature writing has become a publishing phenomenon, but how much do its authors truly care about our wild places?

Bloomsday celebrations: outside Sweny’s, where you can still buy Leopold Bloom’s lemon-scented soap. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL/PA ARCHIVE/PRESS ASSOCIATION IMAGES
Following in James Joyce's footsteps: meet the ordinary people keeping Ulysses alive
By Stephen Cox - 16 June 12:13

A visit to Sweny's chemist in Dublin, which still sells the soap Leopold Bloom buys in Ulysses, reveals those who are keeping the book alive.

Chasing the dragon: the 19th-century craze for opium made a fortune for many adventurers. Image: William Douglas Almond/ Private Collection / © Look And Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images
Amitav Ghosh concludes his Opium War trilogy in brilliant, ramshackle style
By Randy Boyagoda - 11 June 8:53

Amitav Ghosh’s new novel, Flood of Fire, takes you to the end of its exploring, only to hint that the story is just beginning.

Sound investment: the history of the record industry is a tale of technology, stars and shady deals. Photo Montage by Dan Murrell
Music is free now – and the industry only has itself to blame
By Bob Stanley - 11 June 8:35

Bob Stanley unpicks the recording industry’s tangled history of takeovers, piracy and changing technology.

Quite contrary: a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft (circa 1787) by John Keenan. Photo: Private Collection/Bridgeman Images
Finding vindication: on the intertwined lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley
By Melissa Benn - 11 June 8:27

Charlotte Gordon has managed to produce that rare thing, a work of genuinely popular history.

Inscrutable and rootless: the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo: Rex
Condemned to death, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains inscrutable
By Nicky Woolf - 11 June 8:06

That evil is banal has been observed. The route to it in the case of the Tsarnaevs was a meandering path to which hindsight can bring little meaningful insight.

Novelist Anne Enright poses at an Auckland writers' festival. Photo: Sandra Mu/Getty Images
Anne Enright's The Green Road is a devastating, savage novel about home
By Frances Wilson - 10 June 10:08

In Rosaleen Madigan, Enright has created a mater dolorosa without rival in the annals of Irish mothers.

Far out: Bloch reads much into Kitchener’s preference for the company of young men. Photo: THE PRINT COLLECTOR/PRINT COLLECTOR/GETTY IMAGES
A camp history of Westminster's queer MPs
By Chris Bryant - 08 June 12:02

Michael Bloch's book on homosexuality in the house is fun - but little more than a naughty pleasure.

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