The latest on books and the arts


Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton star as a married couple caught in conflict in Half of a Yellow Sun
Friday Arts Diary
By New Statesman - 11 April 13:00

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.

Peter White and Ed Reardon presented a spoof version of You and Yours. Photo: BBC Pictures
Character Invasion: Radio 4 comedy at its worst
By Antonia Quirke - 11 April 12:45

It started inauspiciously with the never remotely amusing Big Bird as the subject of Tweet of the Day.

In the Frame: The Smog
By Tom Humberstone - 11 April 11:27

Tom Humberstone's weekly comic.

Ursula Bedena as Edwige.
The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears: Giallo shots
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 April 11:00

Husband and wife duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's have created a new giallo film with all the necessary beauty and depravity expected of the genre, but without the intelligence and terror of a classic.

Stephen Mangan as Adrian Mole in a 2001 BBC TV adaptation.
The best moments from Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole
By Caroline Crampton - 11 April 10:06

The author, who has died at the age of 68, created in Adrian Mole a character who spoke to a generation of teenagers growing up in suburban Britain. Here, we recall a few of his finest moments.

Tweet dreams.
Anxiety of influence: how Facebook and Twitter are reshaping the novel
By Alex Clark - 10 April 18:10

Ignore the cultural Jeremiahs: novelists are responding to the changes in language, form and subjectivity.

Andrew Garfield.
Thank goodness for Andrew Garfield, saviour of the Amazing Spider-Man 2
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 April 17:22

Fans cannot live on special effects alone. It is Andrew Garfield's super powers, as Peter Parker without the mask, that justify the explosions and non sequiturs that follow as soon as he puts it on.

Laura Palmer.
Is Twin Peaks responsible for the dead woman TV trope?
By Sarah Marshall - 10 April 14:38

From The Killing, The Bridge and CSI to True Detective - why do so many TV series open with the mutilated corpse of a woman? Sarah Marshall looks back to the trope's dark origins.

Wiki man: Jimmy Wales. Image: Dan Murrell
Mr Knowledge: Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales
By Jemima Khan - 10 April 10:00

The founder of the online free encyclopedia on Turkey’s Twitter ban, the perils of clicktivism and what Star Trek can teach us about democracy.

What's this paper thing? When 4G is not an option, it's back to the map. Photo: Getty
If you want to go “off-grid”, simply leave your smartphone at home
By Will Self - 10 April 10:00

We are so used to outsourcing our sense of direction to Google that it takes only a flat phone battery to lose ourselves completely.

How a cardboard tube inspired a cathedral, and other happy accidents in architecture
By Mark Lawson - 10 April 10:00

The critic Mark Lawson discusses the Pritzger prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel, and the everyday items that inspire buildings.

The BBC's Sherlock is just one show that has a complicated relationship between fans and creators. Photo: BBC
Mutually Assured Destruction: the shifting dynamics between creators and fans
By Elizabeth Minkel - 10 April 9:07

The hypothetical direct channel to the writers and actors in our favourite TV shows fosters a false sense of intimacy. But it's all an illusion – television isn't a democracy.

Melvyn Bragg at the Cambridge Literary Festival
By New Statesman - 08 April 12:37

Melvyn Bragg on learning that his mother was illegitimate, autobiographical fiction and the power of misremembering.

Guy Henry as Randolph (centre) with the cast of New Worlds. Photo: Channel 4
New Worlds on Channel 4: Meet the poodle-haired rock gods of the Restoration
By Rachel Cooke - 08 April 11:35

New Worlds, like The Devil’s Whore before it, fancies itself as a political drama. Why must it be silted up with all this Jean Plaidy-ish stuff?

Hogging the myth: an “authentic pizza” stall at a village fair in Somma Vesuviana, near Naples. Photo: Antonio Zambardino/Contrasto/Redux
When it comes to food, authentic doesn’t always mean good
By Felicity Cloake - 08 April 11:18

Can only native Italians bake real pizza and must they hail from Naples for it to be authentic?

I spy: from Paradise Lost to Brave New World, literature has long explored the hidden self. Image: Richard Wilkinson
Private parts: writers and the battle for our inner lives
By Josh Cohen - 08 April 10:00

Imaginative writing is tied intimately to privacy, to the struggle to tell this story, to convey the singular texture of this experience, and no other.

Stock figure: during Elizabeth I’s reign nearly 200 English Catholics were executed. Image: Stapleton Collection/Bridgeman
Gloriana’s underbelly: the terror of life as a Catholic in Elizabethan England
By Anna Whitelock - 08 April 9:51

Jessie Childs's God’s Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England is a detailed and absorbing account of the difficulties of being Catholic in England in the 17th century.

The cast of E4's Made in Chelsea.
Why is the post-recession audience so keen on “Made in Chelsea”?
By India Ross - 07 April 17:24

E4's popular "scripted reality" show offers up a very specific kind of escapism.

What does George R R Martin owe us? Image: Getty.
Game of Thrones season four begins with no end in sight for book series
By Raphael Gray - 07 April 9:27

Are you tired of waiting for the rest of George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire?

The facts of killing: how do we write about the Rwandan Genocide?
By Giles Foden - 07 April 8:48

Twenty years on, we still struggle to comprehend the trauma.

The only crisp that matters: Quentin Crisp photographed in 1981. Photo: Getty
Is there anything – and I mean anything – more useless and destructive than an artisan crisp?
By Will Self - 04 April 19:55

Cardamom and fenugreek, garlic and chilli, black pepper and sea salt: just some of the grotesque additives with which these Shropshire smallholders coat their death discs.

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Arles Photography Festival in 1994. Photo: Getty
The Essay: Finish the Bottle on Radio 3
By Antonia Quirke - 04 April 16:30

In week of short monologues about being up close with well-known artists, Martin Gayford recalls a stressful ecounter with Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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.