The latest on books and the arts


A microphone at the BBC. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Guest-editing the Today programme was like watching air-traffic controllers at work
By Tracey Thorn - 08 January 17:30

Tracey Thorn fills the airwaves with audiobooks, articulate teens and Caitlin Moran.

Richard Branson features in 'Billionaire's Paradise'. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Fully loaded: Meet the Super-Rich shows a world beyond satire
By Rachel Cooke - 08 January 17:20

"It's not the vulgarity that makes you want to puke so much as the asininity" in BBC season of wealth.

Swimming and Seeing
By John Berger - 08 January 17:13

John Berger finds wider ripples of thought in his local pool.

A 1912 illustration of War and Peace. Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images
Antonia Quirke on the best New Year's radio
By Antonia Quirke - 08 January 17:00

Antonia Quirke rounds up the best of the New Year's radio, including War and Peace and The Supernatural North.

Take another look: visitors to the National Gallery in Frederick Wiseman’s documentary. Photo: ANDREW EVANS
A view unbroken: the poignancy of Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery documentary
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 January 16:55

The paintings are anything but dry in Frederick Wiseman's documentary about the London gallery.

Woman browses book maze. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Reading the revolution: books to look out for in 2015
By Tom Gatti - 08 January 16:20

Elections, empires and the "extreme present" in culture editor Tom Gatti's guide to the coming literary year.

Meryl Streep, looking less glamorous than usual for Into the Woods.
Stephen Sondheim: A life’s work in progress
By Leo Robson - 08 January 16:06

On Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday, he will be revered as the genius of musical theatre. But his failures are just as fascinating as his successes.

The New Statesman's Poems of 2014
By New Statesman - 08 January 15:11

New voices join old friends in our selection of the best poems published in the New Statesman over the past 12 months.

Grave matters: a relief from Djehutyhop II's tomb. Photo: British Museum, London
The mummy returns: the first Senusret III exhibtion is a reminder all things must end
By Caroline Crampton - 08 January 15:10

A new exhibition at Lille's Palais des Beaux-Arts reveals the life of an ancient image-maker.

Photo: China Photos/Getty Image
The Queen's English: Victoria brought to life
By Philip Hoare - 08 January 15:10

A N Wilson's book reveals the surprisingly diverse tastes of this quintessential English monarch.

Ethan Hawke.
Ethan Hawke on working with River Phoenix: “I never felt more ordinary in my life”
By Ryan Gilbey - 05 January 18:33

The smart, insightful and oddly underrated US actor Ethan Hawke on first meeting River Phoenix, the Sony hacking crisis and “the beauty of censorship”.

David Robert Mitchell’s chiller It Follows offers more than just frights (although it does those too).
From monster franchises to arthouse gems: films to look forward to in 2015
By Ryan Gilbey - 01 January 11:10

The new year already offers the promise of Tilda Swinton in a fetching wig and the scariest film since Halloween. What's not to like?

Christmas cheer: champagne by the tree. Photo: Annie Roi/Flickr
Nina Caplan: Raise a glass to peace in the Champagne empire
By Nina Caplan - 23 December 10:00

Even I willingly acknowledge that the damage to the vineyards of Champagne was one of the lesser tragedies of the First World War.

The Sex Pistols in 1977, with Johnny Rotten third from left. Photo: Getty
Johnny Rotten: “You find the truth by ridiculing yourself”
By Kate Mossman - 22 December 16:35

NS pop critic Kate Mossman talks to the former Sex Pistol about Ed Miliband, Ukip and “men’s dangly bits”.

Christmas TV isn’t all about repeats this year (starting with Doctor Who)
What to watch on TV this Christmas
By Rachel Cooke - 22 December 16:16

Children get the best TV this year, says Rachel Cooke.

Helen Lewis: Wonder Woman’s complex, contradictory origin story
By Helen Lewis - 22 December 15:57

Wonder Woman is riddled with contradictions: sexless, yet sexy; strong, yet vulnerable; a feminist hero created by a man.

We love ya, tomorrow: Quvenzhané Wallis stars in the new remake of Annie, directed by Will Gluck
Thrills, flops and hard knocks: films to watch this Christmas
By Ryan Gilbey - 22 December 15:54

Ryan Gilbey casts an eye over the Christmas fare.

Destiny has taken over this MP’s life.
A date with Destiny: Tom Watson on the best and worst games of 2014
By Tom Watson - 22 December 15:47

Tom Watson sits through the best and worst video games so you don’t have to.

Walter White by Ralph Steadman
The capitalist nightmare at the heart of Breaking Bad
By Erica Wagner - 22 December 15:27

Breaking Bad’s power lies in its chilling vision of a society in thrall to the market. 

Sofía Oria in “Blancanieves”, a 2012 Spanish film based on "Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm.
Rowan Williams: why we need fairy tales now more than ever
By Rowan Williams - 22 December 12:45

Fairy tales are capable of depicting the hardest challenges we face as human beings.

Amy Adams as Margaret Keane in Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”.
Margaret Keane and Big Eyes: why are we always so ready to believe women’s success is a lie?
By Karen Yossman - 22 December 11:39

From the artist Margaret Keane, the subject of the new Tim Burton film Big Eyes, to Courtney Love and Mary Shelley, our society is always ready and willing to listen to denials of female authorship, even where they are based on the flimsiest of evidence.

"I’ve never bought tights in my life": The Apprentice blog series 10, episode 12
By Anoosh Chakelian - 22 December 8:23

Lord Sugar’s rather laboured hunt for a new business partner finally finishes.

Not everyone’s Christmas looks like this. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty
Suzanne Moore: I never learned exactly what my mother put in the buckets brewing under the bed
By Suzanne Moore - 19 December 17:39

Jay the lesbian gannet made our Christmas much less tense than normal. The home-made Baileys flowed.

The Phil Spector Christmas album is the aural equivalent of being inside a snowglobe. Photo: Getty
Tracey Thorn: Not for me the party songs. Come, listen to the clanging chimes of doom!
By Tracey Thorn - 19 December 16:48

Is there a darker Christmas lyric than Band Aid’s “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”?

Back to the bleak house: a playground and flats in the Estonian village of Purksi, in a former Soviet border protection zone
Minority report: the plight of Estonia’s ethnic Swedes
By Sigrid Rausing - 19 December 14:07

Estonia’s Swedes survived revolution, invasion and exile. Their struggles tell the story of 20th-century Europe.

Transport of delight: Porters on a railway platform in Liverpool, 1890s. Photo: Getty
Making tracks: the parallels between cinema and train travel
By Antonia Quirke - 19 December 13:10

All was harmony, until Jon mentioned the legend of how people in the audience in 1896 had ducked when the train suddenly appeared on-screen.

Love, anarchy, and wonderful violence: how to remember Rik Mayall
By Jenny Landreth - 19 December 12:41

The death of Rik Mayall in June 2014 quite rightly made the front page of every newspaper. There is no one better than the BBC to make a warm and loving tribute to a comedy hero.

In the Frame: Customs
By Tom Humberstone - 19 December 12:07

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.