The latest on books and the arts


Backhouse Park, Sunderland. Photo © Malc McDonald.
Mark Blacklock's 'I'm Jack' shows the dark side of the Northern psyche
By Ben Myers - 29 July 13:06

34 years after Peter Sutcliffe was arrested, this intriguing debut shows how deeply the Yorkshire Ripper is embedded in regional imagination.

Limmy aka Brian Limond. Photo:
Limmy: “I like just being a bit of an arsehole”
By Andrew Hankinson - 29 July 12:35

Andrew Hankinson talks to the Scottish comedian about his work, turning down Question Time and why he asks awkward questions on Twitter.

Michael Moorcock: “I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist”
By Andrew Harrison - 24 July 11:57

Michael Moorcock revolutionised science fiction with symbolism, sex and psychoactive drugs. Now, at 75, he has invented another genre.

E L Doctorow in 2007. Photo: Getty
E L Doctorow and the limits of historical fiction
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 24 July 11:45

What do J P Morgan, Sigmund Freud and Kim Kardashian all have in common with E L Doctorow? A hazy relationship between fact and fiction, that's what.

An artist's impression of NASA's New Horizons probe approaching Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Photo: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI/Steve Gribben
Is Pluto really the “beige planet”?
By Antonia Quirke - 23 July 14:49

McGovern’s microphone sagged. “I just had my feeling about this particular planet go down a notch.” “The Beige Planet,” piped up her co-presenter, Lawrence Pollard.

Life of the mind: Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Joy at the controls
All in my head: Pixar’s Inside Out is full of intellectual energy and emotional daring
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 July 14:47

We might be twenty years on from Toy Story, but Inside Out is proof that computer-animated features can still deliver giddy imaginative crescendos.

South Bank smoothie: much more than big hair
Humble beginnings: an unnervingly moving portrait of Melvyn Bragg
By Rachel Cooke - 23 July 13:48

Yes, Melvyn Bragg is charming, handsome, luxuriantly haired, articulate, a quick study. But there is something questing about him, too – and it is this that made him such a fine interviewee.

Army dreamer: Louis de Bernières. Photo: David Levenson/Getty Images
The great war of whimsy: on Louis de Bernières’s The Dust that Falls from Dreams
By Frances Wilson - 23 July 12:05

As in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières’s subject in this new novel is love and war.

Vova Kharatyan, 65, cherishes his tiny, improvised front yard in Yerevan, “a symbol of my love and my pain”. Photo: Jan Brykczynski
Take a look in the eyes of our urban gardeners
By John Burnside - 23 July 11:48

Eventually, we will have to recognise that it is not “nature” that we need to protect, but ourselves.

Rip it up: Chuck Berry in 1958. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
It’s One for the Money: Tracing the history of theft in pop music
By Yo Zushi - 23 July 11:44

Does culture exist in a vacuum? This “love letter to creative thievery” would suggest not.

This book challenges the “reverse-Voltaires” of the internet. Photo: Getty
Mick Hume’s Trigger Warning: on free-speech heretics and reverse-Voltaires
By Caroline Criado-Perez - 23 July 11:40

There is an important and necessary book waiting to be written on this subject – but this isn't it.

The BBC needs more executives like the author of this book. Photo: Getty
Auntie under attack: life inside the BBC
By Robin Lustig - 23 July 11:34

This book paints a wonderfully accurate picture – sometimes painfully so – of the inner workings of the BBC: its high hopes and petty jealousies, its triumphs and disasters.

The NS Podcast #105: Live from Latitude
By New Statesman - 21 July 19:41

Politics, marriage, and identity.

A lighthouse. Photo: Flickr/Dennis Jarvis
Sinister structures or homely beacons: why lighthouses stand firm as a cultural symbol
By Oliver Farry - 21 July 17:54

Though they are rarely operational these days, lighthouses remain culturally powerful and maintain a strong hold on the imagination. 

SRSLY #4: Latitude and Harper Lee

This week’s episode comes from Latitude festival in Suffolk. Plus, we talk about the controversial To Kill a Mockingbird sequel, Go Set a Watchman, and the Showtime series Masters of Sex.

Michael Jackson waving. Photo: Getty
Mamma Mia, here we go again: why does the West End keep churning out tribute musicals?
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 20 July 14:14

Jukebox shows are beginning to dominate the West End.

Illustration: Simon Pemberton for New Statesman
The internet is not a single entity - it's a whole new way of living
By Josh Cohen - 17 July 15:07

Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen untangles our complex "ways of being" in an overwhelmingly digital world.

A man waits outside the Royal Albert hall during the BBC Proms. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Why every progressive person should sing the Proms' praises
By Caroline Crampton - 17 July 12:12

An image of elitism still hovers around classical music - but the Proms have a democratic history that ought to be celebrated.

'L'Amour Plus Fort Que La Haine'. Photo: Jessica Johnston
“You produce work and want to run for cover”: Celina Teague on art versus armchair activism
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 16 July 18:30

Just before the opening of her new show, "I Think Therefore I #",  the artist Celina Teague talks about the difficulty of producing political art, and the effect that social media has on the way we absorb news.

Go Set a Watchman on sale at Books and Books in Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Harper Lee's fraught return to Maycomb County casts a stark light on both the past and present
By Erica Wagner - 16 July 16:19

How do we talk about Go Set a Watchman? Does its existence diminish To Kill a Mockingbird? How does it stand in relation to that text?

Copies of Go Set a Watchman. Photo: Getty
Why Go Set a Watchman is a much better novel than To Kill a Mockingbird
By Helen Laville - 16 July 13:06

Harper Lee's newly released novel may not win another Pulitzer, but it's far more honest and mature about the complexity of racism in the South.

Shackles used on slaves are displayed at the International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners is fascinating - but the horrors can speak for themselves
By Rachel Cooke - 16 July 10:37

Better to give the viewer a quiet moment to absorb such horror than to attempt to underline it with one’s own feelings.

The Greek flag flies. Athens International Radio shows the Greeks have been sucker-punched - but not broken. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
As Greece faces the music, the radio chatter quiets
By Antonia Quirke - 16 July 10:17

“I think a popular movement might arise from this to take action and lead to new politics!” thrilled a guest on Athens International Radio.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya leads the New York City Marathon on November 3, 2013. Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Will there ever be a marathon time under two hours?
By Rose George - 16 July 9:47

Ed Caesar's new book asks if the record is breakable - and who could break it.

Chuckle brother: life-or-death adventure meets schmaltzy humour in Ant-Man
Like its insectoid hero, Ant-man is a film with an identity crisis
By Ryan Gilbey - 16 July 9:44

There's a struggle at the heart of Ant-Man between the corporate and the ­eccentric.

Man of parts: Freeman seemed intent on keeping the compartments of his life separate. Photo: ITV/Rex features
From one Statesman to another: Peter Wilby on John Freeman
By Peter Wilby - 16 July 9:20

Former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby reviews a new biography of John Freeman.

Illustration by Neale Osborne for Lebrecht Music & Arts.
The global wonder of Danilo Kiš
By Chris Power - 16 July 8:45

Kiš abhorred nationalism and prized literature as a global language. 

The actual moon landings. Photo: NASA/AFP/Getty Images
This is how we walk on the moon: Benjamin Johncock's The Last Pilot
By Erica Wagner - 16 July 8:13

Despite the decades that have gone by, the early days of space exploration hold an enduring fascination.

Paul Nash's Ruined Country (1917). Photo: Imperial War Museum
'And where': a new poem from Anthony Thwaite
By Anthony Thwaite - 16 July 8:04

And will we recognise the place when we get there. . . ?