The central tenet of Hard Times is that the economic slump of 2008 and its aftermath have augmented the schisms already present in two rich, but profoundly unequal societies: the UK and the US.
The task Azar Nafisi sets herself here, to build an argument for fiction in western culture, is one that has driven her personal and professional life.
The protagonists of Rose Tremain’s fifth collection of short stories – her first since 2005’s The Darkness of Wallis Simpson – are all operating under some form of constraint: social, sexual, emotional, pressingly immediate or far distant, unrelentingly real or garlanded with imaginative flourishes.
Richard II’s meeting with the rebels is one of the most astonishing moments in English history, as a 14-year-old boy rides out to meet thousands of his armed and angry people.
The work of a great artist often appears so fluent, so graceful, that we assume it must have come easily – but nothing in art is worth much if it is not hard won.
Amanda Craig’s round-up of reading to enchant and inspire young minds this Christmas.
Jane Shilling finds a blend of syrup and venom in this kiss-and-tell book by François Hollande’s former partner.
A pantomime villain imbued with the sophistication of Moriarty, Fu Manchu captured the imagination of a public already accustomed to lurid, exaggerated tales of vice among Britain’s Chinese population.
Leo Robson reviews the double-Booker Prize-winning author’s new novel about Australian identity.
Perhaps the most famous moment of resistance against the Nazis in Crete is the abduction of the Nazi commandant of the island by a team led by Paddy Leigh Fermor, later one of the great prose stylists and travel writers of our time.
This fourth book in the Frank Bascombe series a volume that tempts the word “slight” but may deserve more. Like its narrator, it is easygoing, understated, articulate and occasionally surprising.
Mecca was the city of Sardar’s childhood dreams, the ideal Muslim polity of humility and submission to God, and a community of faith. Today, under Saudi rule, it has been “remade in the image of . . . wealth and imperial splendour”.
The story of Rosenberg’s father David, and his struggle to construct a new life after surviving the Holocaust was first published in Sweden in 2012; since then it has sold over 200,000 copies and been translated into nine languages. But Rosenberg wonders if he has the ability to tell the story at all, given that he is writing it “much later” than the events described.
Over the half-century of his career as a musician, Wyatt has belonged to no musical coterie; at his home in the market town of Louth in Lincolnshire, he has simply ploughed his own furrow.
Energetic and confident, the heir to the Sackville dynasty always felt comfortable in her own skin. Being Vita wasn’t the problem – patriarchy was.
David Goldblatt is one of a loose group of football writers, all of them men born in the 1960s, for whom the sport since the summer of either 1989 or 1990 has been a slightly poisonous let-down.
Roberts brings Bonaparte brilliantly to life as a military leader and public administrator of immense skill, energy and resourcefulness, yet one who was fatally flawed, writes Andrew Adonis.
Founded upon his experience of successfully negotiating with the IRA, the book is an enthralling, case study of the art, in which Powell carefully establishes his argument for why dialogue with terror groups is usually necessary.
Theroux’s lively imagination ranges from Hawaii to Alabama to the Amazon, and often portrays the disintegration of love and the disappointment when a promising sequel leads to bitterness.
The American novelist Marilynne Robinson tells Philip Maughan why good characters are more interesting than bad ones and why a sense of our own fallibility keeps us sane.
How did a hamlet in Belgium become immortalised in the names of streets, districts, parks and buildings all over Britain? These five books, published in anticipation of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, explain why.
Uglow’s subject is the everyday life of those who stayed behind, for whom the 22 years of conflict were experienced in terms of boredom, bad weather, missing fathers, sons or brothers, the price of bread, failed harvests, mourning, making money and, overwhelmingly, reading the newspapers.
There is a sense that, in recent years, novelists have formed part of a rearguard action in response to Richard Dawkins’s New Atheist consensus. Philip Maughan talks to Marilynne Robinson, Francis Spufford and Rowan Williams about God in literature.
Eleanor braved the world to test what she’d learned from Marx and Engels at the family hearth.
We can change what’s on the cover, but if the content of the book hasn’t changed, it still has the power to limit our children’s aspirations.
The winner of this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for her book H is for Hawk chronicles a life-changing week.
Ed Smith’s Left Field.
Including: Hilary Mantel, Rowan Williams, Grayson Perry, Alan Johnson, A S Byatt, Geoff Dyer, Alex Salmond, Kate Fox, William Boyd and Dave Eggers.
After such a hellish catastrophe,
what happens to the angels?
Do they tumble down thrones
and dominions like bankers
from tall windows?
Or, wings torn,
As Ferrante’s writing became conspicuous, so did her anonymity. Speculation gathered, not just about her identity but even her sex.