The latest on books and the arts


Paris at twilight. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
French revolutions: the eerie prescience of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s detective fiction
By Russell Williams - 19 March 12:15

An attentive reader of Marx, Herbert Marcuse and Guy Debord, Manchette used his novels to offer diagnoses of societal ills.

Campbell and Alex Ferguson talk tactics, 2010. Photo: PA
Dodgy dossier: Alastair Campbell's brainwashing guide to success fails to impress
By Simon Heffer - 19 March 12:14

Winners: and How They Succeed claims to praise boldness - but often just praises bullshit.

Dylan Hammond's tin-plate portrait of Aneurin Bevan at the Welsh Assembly. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Aneurin Bevan, stormy petrel of the Labour left
By David Marquand - 19 March 12:09

A new biography shows Aneurin Bevan’s Marxist doggedness was prescient.

Peppers for sale at a market in Italy. Photo: Andreas Solara/AFP/Getty Images
So hot right now: the peppers that prove there's a perv in all of us
By Felicity Cloake - 19 March 11:54

My eyes and my nose streamed, it felt like someone had stuck a red hot poker through both of my ears and my heart was dancing a fast polka in my chest, but I also felt weirdly euphoric.

John Aubrey. Photo: Wikimedia
In feather light sentences, antiquarian John Aubrey captured the spirit of an age
By Frances Wilson - 19 March 11:33

Ruth Scurr's biography of the draughtsman, archeologist and diarist is a moving, delicate record of a man - and an era.

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Photo: Matt Carr/Getty Images
Worst of all worlds: late capitalist materialism and the unending cycles of Slavoj Žižek
By Josh Cohen - 19 March 11:24

Absolute Recoil and Trouble in Paradise, the latest additions to the Žižekian corpus, are recycled radicalism - and fail to see beyond capitalism's hold.

Death becomes her: Juliette Binoche as Antigone. Photo: Jan Versweyveld
In love with the impossible: Juliette Binoche’s alluring but impenetrable Antigone
By Jason Cowley - 19 March 11:18

Binoche’s Antigone is easier to respect than to pity and, for some reason, one never really feels the pathos of her struggles.

The BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy
Budget 2015: Why George Osborne’s tax cut for orchestras is really unfair
By Caroline Crampton - 18 March 15:13

When is an orchestra not an orchestra? The way this policy defines it, northern brass bands and Scottish bagpipe groups will be excluded from the tax relief.

The New Statesman's unlikely role in the progressive rock movement of the 1960s
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 17 March 16:14

"Painter/musician badly needs rent cheap." 

The Irish identity crisis: why St Patrick's Day is an odd holiday
By Oliver Farry - 17 March 10:20

For such a small country, there is far too great a divergence within it to attempt to define a quintessential Ireland.

How not to adapt a British sitcom in America
By Lea A Donovan - 16 March 15:40

For every successful American remake of a classic British comedy there is a handful of dreadful clangers that never make it beyond a pilot.

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #10
By Critical Distance - 16 March 12:22

Are games better without characters?

In the Frame: Boris Johnson's guide to interpreting art
By Tom Humberstone - 13 March 13:32

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

He wakes up kicking.
A masterful restoration pulls visitors deep into Goya's haunted thoughts
By Michael Prodger - 13 March 13:11

Goya is better known for his portraiture and group paintings. But a restoration of the artist's private notebooks show a different side, where ghosts and witches abound in profoundly unnerving sketches.

A more modest view of Aidan Turner.
Second helpings: even with its sea vistas and a firm, pink bottom, Poldark fails to shine
By Rachel Cooke - 12 March 16:15

The new Poldark looks like a tourist board campaign for Cornwall, only with stagecoaches where there should be surfboards.

A commercial film set. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
"We don't have a British film industry": The Business of Film takes us behind the movie scenes
By Antonia Quirke - 12 March 16:13

A new BBC Radio 4 three-part series covers all aspects of the industry.

The author Sir Terry Pratchett, who was an inspiration to many. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty
Terry Pratchett: Ten best quotes
By Stephen Bush and Stephanie Boland - 12 March 16:04

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” Following Terry Pratchett's death, here are some of his best quotations as chosen by the New Statesman team. 

If you think Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines plagiarises Marvin Gaye, you don't understand songwriting
By Rhodri Marsden - 12 March 14:35

A jury's view that Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s Blurred Lines copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song, Got To Give It Up is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what songwriting is.

Mr Songbird: Ray Davies at the Flask pub in Highgate, north London, 1972. PHoto: Gijsbert Hankeroot/Redferns
The Kinks frontman Ray Davies: an imprisoned rock legend or just plain mean?
By Mark Ellen - 12 March 10:40

The title of veteran rock writer Johnny Rogan's biography Ray Davies: a Complicated Life may be something of an understatement.

Care in the community: Williams in 1985. Photo: Mark Gerson/National Portrait Gallery, London.
Raymond Williams was one of the left's great thinkers - he deserves to be rediscovered
By Geoff Dyer - 12 March 10:31

A hero of the 1968 generation, Raymond Williams was inextricably linked to where he came from and common experience. In an era of diluted politics, it's time to return to his work.

Gotcha! Steve Jobs speaks at an Apple music event in 2010. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A modern history of hoaxes: without pranks, there'd be no Apple
By Robert Twigger - 11 March 17:30

From Bansky to Martin Bell, Kembrew McLeod's Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World shows how pranks shake things up.

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in “Last Tango in Halifax”. Photo: BBC
Sally Wainwright: There’s no such thing as “northern comedy”
By Caroline Crampton - 11 March 13:41

The writer of such “northern” hits as Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley explains why she finds such categorisation redundant.

Is the gender gap in earnings the product of "rational" inequality? Picture: Hulton Archive
Much of women's work is unpaid - but without it, the economy would crumble
By Caroline Criado-Perez - 11 March 11:32

Katrine Marçal's Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? reminds us how Homo economicus has always been supported by free, underacknowldged, female labour.

Girls on film: it's time to celebrate women critics, the liveliest voices in cinema
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 March 11:31

Why has it taken us so long to realise that the strongest, most exciting voices, shaping our opinions of cinema are women?

HaLOL: can the UK have a laugh about Islam?
By Anoosh Chakelian - 10 March 15:39

The Comedy Store in London held a rare showcase of Muslim comedians this week, who gave sharp insights into navigating Islam in the UK.

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #9
By Critical Distance - 10 March 10:41

On the 'cool gamer girlfriend'.

From brutalism to Borgen to blogging: how the language of cities has changed
By Oliver Farry - 09 March 13:45

Do you speak urbanism? The way we read and write in the language of cities has transformed.

Miranda July. Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine
Miranda July's debut novel The First Bad Man is a bittersweet tale of love, strangeness and cruelty
By Hannah Rosefield - 09 March 10:43

Like Ben Lerner and Sheila Heti, Miranda July has written a novel exploring new forms of love and community.

Leslee Udwin, the documentary-maker whose film, India's Daughter, has been censored on the sub-continent. (Photo:Getty)
The attitudes expressed towards women in India's Daughter are chilling. But they're also universal
By Emily Dyer - 08 March 7:50

India's Daughter has exposed that country's rape culture. But don't imagine that these attitudes aren't found around the world.