The latest on books and the arts


Thomas Søndergård in action. Photo: Tom Finnie
Proms 2015: Poulenc, Stravinsky, Haydn and Mozart with Thomas Søndergård and the BBCNOW
By Caroline Crampton - 19 July 8:33

The real revelation of the evening was the BBC National Chorus of Wales - it's a shame we won't be hearing from them again this season.

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. . . ?

The artwork An Oak Tree. Photo: YouTube screengrab/TateShots: Michael Craig-Martin/Tate
Can a glass of water also be an oak tree?
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 15 July 16:56

Why when one creative claims to turn his glass into an oak tree, we accept it as a heart-breaking reaction to loss, and when another does the same, it's confusingly pointless?

Ben Kingsley as Damian finds himself upgraded into a well-muscled 35-year-old body. Photo: Alan Markfield/VVS Films
Farce, philosophy and fantasy: body-swap films have the perfect cinematic formula
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 July 11:25

Body-swap storylines are the perfect premise for filmic fun, so why is the most recent offering in the genre, Self/Less, so disappointing?

Time out of mind: “All art was once contemporary art,” says Quinn, whose practice draws on a rich history spanning ancient Greece, Turner and India. Photo: Laura Hynd for New Statesman
Marc Quinn: “You can’t be Turner in the age of global warming”
By Michael Prodger - 14 July 12:49

The artist on Kate Moss, time travel and life after the YBAs.

Vivienne Westwood at a fashion event. Photo: Getty
Anarchy in Wonderland: Vivienne Westwood's anti-capitalist take on Alice's Adventures
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 13 July 14:45

Vivienne Westwood's 150th anniversary edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland calls for an end to capitalism, and captures the book in an age of political mistrust.

Woody Allen. Photo: Getty
Why do some directors repeatedly use the same actors in their films?
By Oliver Farry - 13 July 13:26

Looking behind the preferred casts of directors throughout the history of cinema who always use the same actors.

A pair of brown brogues. Photo: Flickr/ Designerschuhe, Taschen und Accessoires
Will walking in the shoes of a Syrian refugee or an Etonian help you empathise? Roman Krznaric thinks so
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 09 July 16:25

Roman Krznaric speaks about his new project, the Empathy Museum, and why he believes it has the power to make visitors more empathetic.

India's Second World War: the history you don't hear about
By Simon Winchester - 09 July 15:35

As the British lost their grip on India, Punjabi and Bengali soldiers were still sent to the front lines of a European war.

The crowd during Kanye West's set at Glastonbury. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn's Glastonbury highlights: Mary J Blige, Kanye – and not having to be there
By Tracey Thorn - 09 July 14:43

I performed twice at Glastonbury, crippled by stage fright, poor sound, chilly weather and an overwhelming desire to be anywhere else. Luckily, you can now join in via the telly.

Funny peculiar: the young cast of P’tit Quinquin.
Bruno Dumont's P’tit Quinquin is like an austere, French Twin Peaks
By Ryan Gilbey - 09 July 14:05

Dumont isn’t satirising small-town small-mindedness so much as trying to understand how it functions – where it starts, what inflames it.

Chimney-sweep music: the spirit of Dick Van Dyke hangs over Damon Albarn’s
Modernist ballet and "chimney sweep music": Stuart Maconie on the Manchester International Festival
By Stuart Maconie - 09 July 13:56

Damon Albarn's and Tree of Codes, with music by Jamie xx, open this year's festival.

A man listens to radio in Nigeria's Borno state, as the region recovers from clashes with Islamist groups. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
As governments shut down radio, the BBC world service is a lifeline
By Antonia Quirke - 09 July 13:39

“The exercise of making radio matters,” said a caller. “It’s a symbol of resistance.”

Housing officer Brian features in Channel 4's How To Get a Council House. Photo: Channel 4
Channel 4's How to Get a Council House is infuriating and compassionate by turns
By Rachel Cooke - 09 July 13:31

Is it a legitimate left-liberal position not to want any more cuts, yet still to feel that some people take the piss? Or does that make me Andy Burnham?

Life sentence: a boy wanders through the Israeli-bombed Shejaiya quarter of Gaza City, October 2014. Photo: Ezz Al-Zanoun/Nur Photo/Rex
Living, working and dying: the literature of occupied Palestine
By Adam LeBor - 09 July 10:16

Once again, history has conspired against the Palestinians – but as these books show, they cannot be wished away.

Master of arts of war: a coloured engraving of Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria, by Gustave Doré. Photo: AKG-iamges/E.Viader/Prisma
Genghis and Saladin: the men who invented global terror
By Lucy Hughes-Hallett - 09 July 10:04

Saladin decapitated prisoners as ruthlessly as Isis does now - and Genghis Khan was brutal from childhood. But what can we learn from these men?

A delicious life: Jane Grigson in the kitchen with her daughter, Sophie. Photo: Graeme Robertson/Rex
Jane Grigson: the woman whose words you'll want to eat
By Felicity Cloake - 09 July 10:01

Grigson's recipes still have the power to surprise – God knows what readers in 1971 made of sushi with sweet beans – and her enthusiasm for her subject is utterly infectious.

Lost and found: in Nell Zink’s fiction identities are fluid and words carry significant weight. Photo: Christian Jungeblodt/The Guardian
How Nell Zink's bizarre brilliance found her success at fifty
By Joanna Walsh - 09 July 9:52

After years of experimental exchanges with writer friends, she now drafts whole novels in weeks.