The Master and Margarita.
Diaries and Letters by Mikhail Bulgakov: I have rarely read the letters of an artist that were less intrinsically interesting
By Gabriel Josipovici - 11 July 8:35

Some great writers are also great letter-writers, others are not. Bulgakov's letters tell the story, or at least accompany the story, of the young writers journey to Moscow to the publication of The Master and Margarita.

Oliver Reed.
The Authorised Biography of Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers: Sadly and crushingly, most important was that he was an alcoholic
By Antonia Quirke - 11 July 8:29

The "Bill Sikes" actor turned down Spielberg, Polanski and even James Bond - why?

Nigerian literature is going from strength to strength
By James Evans - 09 July 15:00

Winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African writing and four nominees all hail from Nigeria.

Iain Banks.
Iain Banks's clear-eyed unsentimentality is the reason I feel duty-bound to say The Quarry is a stinker
By Helen Lewis - 08 July 13:00

The Quarry comes across as something of a "greatest hits" - I wanted, desperately, for the book to be a final majestic flourish - his rightly deserved swan song. But it isn't. It's a stinker.

What happened to India’s economic miracle?
By William Dalrymple - 05 July 12:01

The elephant untethered.

A wolf behind a woman in a cave.
Jay Griffiths, George Monbiot, Sylvain Tesson and Philip Hoare: How pastoral writing is being redefined
By Jane Shilling - 04 July 16:00

You have to go back in time a long way to find pastoral writing that doesn't mourn the shrinking diversity in our wild places. The pastoral has given was to new "nature writers". If they were put in charge of the countryside, these islands would become a

Ann Widdecombe.
New memoirs by Alan Johnson and Ann Widdecombe: "Look, I'm like you, I'm human, I've lived!"
By Sophie Elmhirst - 04 July 15:00

Politicians create narrative from scant facts on a daily basis - it's part of the job. New memoirs from Johnson and Widdecombe offer an example of how-to (and how not-to) use this skill.

Milano Centrale.
Italian Ways by Tim Parks: In Italian train stations, the spirit of Kafka is at work
By Jasper Rees - 04 July 13:00

The author of a trilogy of studies on Italy, Tim Parks always keeps his ear to the ground, looking for the telltale nuance, the occluded revelation of national character.

A kookaburra.
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld: A novel like crisply folded origami, intricate and well made
By Claire Lowdon - 04 July 12:00

Claire Lowdon on the humble and bold second novel from Granta's "Best Young British Novelist" Evie Wyld.

A painting of Chinese troops during WWII.
China's War with Japan 1937-45 by Rana Mitter: Fragments of other histories beginning to emerge
By Isabel Hilton - 04 July 11:36

The scale of suffering in China during the Second World War was unimaginable. Yet China did not submit, and it has only been since the 1980s that fragments of other histories have started to emerge.

Isaiah Berlin scrutinises a postcard.
Letters 1960-75 by Isaiah Berlin: Vast erudition, fluency and humanity, gossip, back-stabbing and name-dropping too
By David Herman - 03 July 9:00

Berlin's letters, superbly edited by Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle, encourage us to ask what is going to be remembered and what is going to fade: the work, or the personality?

Jimmy Connors.
Reviews round-up
By Critic - 02 July 14:30

The critics' verdicts on Jimmy Connors, Jonathan Sperber and Sarah Churchwell.

Jazz: the transformation from subversive expression to mainstream entertainment
By Sarah Churchwell - 27 June 9:41

Sarah Churchwell reviews <em>Jazz: New York in the Roaring Twenties</em> by Robert Nippoldt and Hans-Jürgen Schaal.

The Outsider by Jimmy Connors: Is there a competitive advantage to “assholery”?
By Ed Smith - 27 June 8:41

Former tennis player Jimmy Connors' memoir has the ring of honesty, as though he is trying to be entirely straightforward.

Portrait of a Party by Stuart Ball: The devil's in the detail
By Vernon Bogdanor - 27 June 8:15

A detailed history of the Conservative Party's domination between the First and Second World Wars.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: A half-remembered fairy tale from childhood
By Alex Hern - 27 June 8:09

A book that feels like it’s made up of offcuts and dreams.

New Statesman
A Child of One’s Own by Rachel Bowlby: A study of “unnatural” parenthood
By Rachel Cusk - 22 June 10:28

One could say that the Oedipus narrative gave us <em>Wuthering Heights</em> where the Moses story resulted in <em>Jane Eyre</em>; or at least that between them can be found the spectrum of objective and subjective narrative possibilities.

A protester's shirt displays an embroidery of the Virgin Mary
The Virgin Birth and other myths
By John Gray - 22 June 9:21

Sins of omission and myths of the Enlightenment.

Iain Banks.
Away the Crow Road
By Helen Lewis - 20 June 11:17

Remembering Iain Banks, an intensely political writer.

New Statesman
Alexandria by Peter Stothard: A wander through places where the thoughts of the dead live on
By John Sutherland - 20 June 11:12

The loose-knittedness of <em>Alexandria</em> encourages Jack Hornerism. For me, the richest plums in the pudding are the digressions on Stothard’s background.

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton: Not so much eagle-eyed as bird-brained
By Claire Lowdon - 20 June 10:53

A book that purports “to provide readers and students with some of the basic tools of the critical trade” is chock-full of critical fallacies and flawed reasoning.

The North by Paul Morley: Warmth, decency, truth and proper beer, with a side order of menace
By Stuart Maconie - 20 June 10:47

For everyone who is exasperated by Morley’s oblique, mazy, impressionistic style, there will be others who will be seduced by its heft, even if they don’t realise quite how good it is.

The Unwinding by George Packer: How America became like Walmart
By Alan Ryan - 20 June 10:38

An impressive piece of work – but not a happy one.

Melanie Phillips appearing on BBC Question Time.
Read Melanie Phillips' memoir and politely disagree: it will annoy her
By Helen Lewis - 19 June 11:05

A fascinating psychological portrait of a woman who seems to feel most alive when under fire.

New Statesman
Reviews round-up
By Critic - 17 June 15:18

The critics' verdicts on Rachel Kushner, Iain Banks and Sylvain Tesson.

Asunder by Chloe Aridjis: More interested in being than becoming
By Juliet Jacques - 17 June 14:45

Asunder communicates its ideas, and their supporting cultural references, subtly and efficiently.

A young boy reading a book.
There is a problem with boys and books - and all-female prize panels aren't helping
By Jonathan Emmett - 17 June 9:43

All thirteen judges on this year's Greenaway and Carnegie Medal panel are women. Last year there was only one man. Although there are plenty of men writing and illustrating picture books, the gatekeepers in the world of picture books are overwhelmingly fe