The latest on books and the arts


A plague on your houses: the Commons, 1809. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty
Who’s the mummy? Parliament: the Biography by Chris Bryant
By George Eaton - 04 April 16:00

The belief that Westminster is “the mother of all parliaments” is one of the myths the Labour MP for Rhondda seeks to dispel.

Damon Galgut, Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke at the Cambridge Literary Festival
By New Statesman - 04 April 15:58

Alex Clark talks to South African novelist Damon Galgut about his new novel Arctic Summer, followed by readings from Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke.

Swinging roundabout: Piccadilly Circus in 1963
The retropolitan line: documentary How We Used to Live by Paul Kelly
By Andrew Harrison - 04 April 13:00

A cinematic paean to postwar London uses rare footage from the BFI. But has time edited out the boring bits?

Kate Winslet.
Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet: The bright spots at the centre of Divergent
By Ryan Gilbey - 04 April 11:58

Kate Winslet's part in dystopian drama Divergent might just represent the ideal new character type for the English actress: ice queen.

In the Frame: Ad Break
By Tom Humberstone - 04 April 11:53

Tom Humberstone's weekly comic.

This show is arguably the worst thing that the BBC airs.
Is the BBC’s “The Big Questions” the worst thing on television?
By Willard Foxton - 04 April 11:09

It’s one of the broadcaster’s flagship religious programmes, yet it makes religious people look unfairly crazy.

War footing: British troops on a trek with Ethiopian ground forces, February 1941. (Photo: Associated Press)
Bleak and beautiful: The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry
By Frances Wilson - 03 April 17:00

The spirit of Conrad hovers over this tale of an alcoholic Irishman serving in the British army out in Africa during WWII.

Elizabeth Bishop: Petropolis, Brazil, 1952
By Blake Morrison - 03 April 15:00

A poem by Blake Morrison.

Command and conquer: Djemal Pasha, Ottoman governor of Iraq and Syria (centre)
A messy legacy: Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson
By William Dalrymple - 03 April 14:06

Lawrence continues to grip our imagination but can be a problematic lens through which to examine the Middle East.

Man in the mirror: Jesse Eisenberg as Simon/James
A case of homage overload: The Double by Richard Ayoade
By Ryan Gilbey - 03 April 12:30

Two films into his directing career, the former star of the IT Crowd  has yet to exhibit an original voice.

Celebrities are no longer the only people who have to worry about being pursued by cameras. (Photo: Getty)
The disheartening inevitability of a woman being shamed for eating in public
By Rebecca Reilly-Cooper - 03 April 12:18

When a woman eats in public it violates all kinds of unwritten assumptions about how women "should" act, and gives licence to those who wish to shame them.

The Norman porch of the House of Lords. Photo: Getty
I wonder what my younger self would’ve made of the House of Lords – and its hairdryers
By Tracey Thorn - 03 April 11:31

It was grand and archaic but it reminded me of nothing so much as a giant, souped-up parish council meeting.

Selfish gene: Karl Ove Knausgaard turns his mundane life into honest and provocative fiction. (Photo: David Sandson/Eyevine)
Karl Ove Knausgaard's Nordic existentialism
By Leo Robson - 03 April 11:00

Why have the confessions of a Norwegian Everyman become a literary phenomenon?

With the Miliband: Thomas Piketty. (Image: Dan Murrell)
Thomas Piketty: a modern French revolutionary
By Nick Pearce - 03 April 11:00

Piketty’s book Capital is being acclaimed as the most important work of political economy to be published in decades. It has certainly caught the attention of Ed Miliband’s inner circle.

he cast of How I Met Your Mother at a CBS publicity event in 2005. Photo: Getty.
We know How He Met Their Mother, but was it worth it?
By India Ross - 02 April 16:54

After nine seasons and years of anticipation, the story of Ted Mosby comes to an end.

Smooth operator: Timberlake onstage with a dancer at Motorpoint Arena. (Photo: Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake, the 20/20 Experience Tour
By Kate Mossman - 01 April 17:06

“This is too good. Will the pleasure never end?” asks Kate Mossman as she witnesses the endothermic showman Justin Timberlake in concert in Sheffield.

American idol: Chris Evans in The First Avenger, the debut instalment of the new Captain sagas for the big screen. (Photo: Rex Features)
An Aristotle who punches bad guys: the moral world of Captain America
By John Gray - 01 April 11:57

The patriotic superhero has been resurrected on screen in the past few years. John Gray argues that Cap's appeal lies in timeless ethics dating back to ancient Greece. 

Unlike the deadly silence elsewhere, there is often a busy buzz in the prison library. Photo: Getty
The power of words: in prison, inmates can be transformed by reading
By Rene Denfeld - 01 April 8:35

Rene Denfeld, a death penalty investigator and author, describes the power the written word has behind bars.

Matthew McConnaughey as Rust Cohle in True Detective. (Image: HBO)
Swamp-noir True Detective is the best show of 2014 (so far)
By Ian Steadman - 31 March 18:10

It may not have the best writing, but True Detective's production and acting quality mark it out as the standout show of 2014.

David McSavage and Brendan Gleeson in Calvary.
Why pop culture won’t lay a finger on paedophile priests, despite years of abuse scandals
By Mark Lawson - 31 March 17:28

The subject still awaits its defining cinematic treatment.

A concept illustration of the new Crystal Palace, produced by the ZhongRong Group.
Boris Johnson’s plan to sell public land for a new Crystal Palace will be a terrible boondoggle
By Douglas Murphy - 31 March 11:53

The idea of building a new Crystal Palace in south London appeals to the Victorian Toryism in Boris Johnson, but it would be another pointless, aesthetically-bankrupt legacy the capital will have to deal with.

The dog might be a metaphor, but it also has real teeth.
White Dog: Sam Fuller’s gritty, uneasy thriller gets a much-deserved re-release
By Ryan Gilbey - 28 March 12:54

The 1982 film about racism and prejudice is back – and its grittiness and conscientiousness is still there.

A stylish poodle, known as 'Champion Achilles', photographed in 1930. Photo: Gambier Bolton/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The day I treated H G Wells’s poodle (without the need for a time machine)
By John Brooke - 28 March 12:23

It is always an enormous bonus when a doppelgänger – artistic, philosophical, sporting, political – walks into the practice.

In the Frame: Fair and Balanced
By Tom Humberstone - 28 March 11:41

Tom Humberstone's weekly comic.

Unintelligent design: winemakers deliberately created an unsatisfying mixture of Cinsault and Pinot Noir. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Pinotage – a bad idea that became a national flag
By Nina Caplan - 28 March 11:20

The new multicultural South Africa should stop banging on about Pinotage and embrace Cinsault, a French grape so cosmopolitan that it’s even comfortable with curry.

Raymond Chandler at a party in London in 1958, flanked on either side by the publisher Anthony Blond and his wife Charlotte. Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images
Watching the detective: how John Banville perfected the Raymond Chandler sequel
By Ian Sansom - 28 March 11:02

John Banville's Benjamin Black novels are irresistable. It's as if Henry James were writing under the pseudonym of Arthur Conan Doyle.

In the Insect Room
By Gillian Clarke - 28 March 10:51

A poem by Gillian Clarke.