The latest on books and the arts


The Golden Dream.
The Golden Dream by Diego Quemada-Díez: Freedom pass
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 June 15:30

Four young teenagers face violence and desperation on the road to California in this modern road movie with clear echoes of John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and Michael Winterbottom’s In This World.

Elevated position: the original Selfridges lifts, now installed at the Museum of London. Photo: Getty
Rebecca Front: “When I’m filming, I feel more relaxed than at almost any other time”
By Rebecca Front - 26 June 15:27

The star of Nighty NightThe Thick of It and Lewis on literary competitiveness, the cameraderie of the make-up truck and learning to cope with lifts. 

Souk El Joumaa in Damasacus, Syria. Photograph: OmarSyria on Flickr, via Creative Commons
To Damascus and back again: how my draft novel was kidnapped in Syria and lived to tell the tale
By Claire Hajaj - 26 June 13:33

“I realised: as well as my wallet and keys and hundreds of dollars, as well as my bank details and personal photographs – he had my book. My second, cherished, unborn novel – lovely plotted and crafted, and for some mad, forgotten reason not backed up.”

Mrs Brown's Boys.
Why wasn’t “Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie” shown to critics ahead of its release?
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 June 12:34

The trend for distributors to refuse advanced previews for critics speaks volumes about their attitude to the press - but it’s a risky strategy, and doesn’t always mean the film is a dud.

Lana Del Rey.
Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence”: glorification of physical abuse, or a radical appeal for self-love?
By Daisy Lafarge - 26 June 10:52

The singer’s new album is a sad indictment of post-feminism – a culture in which women may achieve what they are told to and still feel brutally unhappy.

Full English: the MCC's chief executive (centre) and others at Lords 2011. Photo: Getty
I wear my egg-and-bacon tie with pride – MCC membership is my last link to civilisation
By Nicholas Lezard - 26 June 10:00

My politics may place me firmly on the left of Labour, but confess to owning an MCC tie and people start looking at you in a whole new light.

A Sami family, Lapland, c.1900. They saw their homeland as the centre of the world. Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
John Burnside: The tyranny of the world’s “centre”
By John Burnside - 26 June 10:00

For generations, people on the periphery have watched their ways of life – often informed by deep wisdom and ancient traditions – being sacrificed for “resources” for those in central nations. 

Start at the end: Wicomb uses the metaphor of leaping salmon returning to their spawning grounds
Homing instinct: October by Zoë Wicomb
By Neel Mukherjee - 26 June 10:00

Wicomb was born in South Africa but has lived in Britain since the 1970s. Like previous work, her latest book revisits themes of homemaking, exile, return and race.

Scandi rouge: Norway's Got Talent
Imperial gogglebox: TV is one of Britain’s most successful exports
By James Medd - 26 June 10:00

China is obsessed with Sherlock, Iran loves Top Gear and Azerbaijan has its own Anne Robinson. But these shows are worth much more than money, writes James Medd.

I sty: a model with pig nose on the Vivienne Westwood S/S 2015 catwalk. Photo: Getty
Will Self: I’m doing my best to ignore pulled pork
By Will Self - 26 June 10:00

The very alliterative character of pulled pork suggested to me something bogus and contrived; after all, what do you do when you’re sold a pig in a poke if not disgustedly pull the cat meat out?

Dawn O'Porter.
I can’t concentrate on football: the World Cup coverage is far too distracting
By Rachel Cooke - 25 June 15:00

The all-male tedium of football pundits makes me wonder if Dawn O’Porter likes football. Her vintage bandeau tops and frocks would knock Alan Shearer’s super-tight pants into a tin hat.

Cinema Paradiso is perhaps the ultimate cinema-nostalgia film.
At the movies: the cultural history of cinemas on the big screen
By Oliver Farry - 25 June 12:48

Films that feature actual cinemas in them often combine them with a sense of nostalgia for lost youth, for the picture houses of a bygone era.

Harry Styles from One Direction. Photo: Getty
The truth behind that six-figure deal for Harry Styles fan fiction
By Elizabeth Minkel - 24 June 11:31

A One Direction fan’s writings have earned her a huge publishing deal – and kicked off a whole new round of missing the point about fan fiction.

Marina Abramović at the opening of 512 Hours at the Serpentine, 9 June 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Marina Abramović's 512 Hours at the Serpentine shows the self-indulgent side of anti-materialism
By Daisy Lafarge - 23 June 11:30

The performance artist's latest blockbuster work empties Hyde Park's Serpentine Gallery, and makes visitors the subjects of the piece - but its radical anti-materialism feels flat.

Kristine Opolais as Manon and Jonas Kaufmann as Des Grieux in "Manon Lescaut". Photograph: Bill Cooper/Royal Opera House
Uneasy futility at the opera: Manon Lescaut and In the Penal Colony
By Alexandra Coghlan - 23 June 11:11

Alexandra Coghlan reviews Jonathan Kent’s new production of Manon Lescaut at the Royal Opera House and Shadwell Opera’s In The Penal Colony at the Arts Theatre.

Clinton voted for military action in Iraq but now admits she got it wrong. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty
The new stateswoman: Hillary Clinton’s steely idealism
By Douglas Alexander - 23 June 10:34

Will Hillary run for president in 2016? Her memoir is more interested in the fine art of diplomacy.

One of the first great political broadcasters: Clement Attlee in 1950. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Clement Attlee, the original Ed Miliband
By Francis Beckett - 20 June 15:01

Attlee had an image. A wise man, he made his image rather like the real thing – quiet, cricket-loving, terse, a suburban bank manager – and it resonated with the times.

Mysterious story: a family by a campfire in New York state, 2010. Photo: Getty
Heavy meta: The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z Danielewski
By Ben Myers - 20 June 13:53

At the heart of this book is a tense fireside tale, in which a storyteller is invited to entertain five orphans at an adults’ birthday party.

Leafy living: the Sun Inn pub in Richmond, south-west London. Photo: Flickr/© Jim Linwood
Sun-In and John Lewis: growing up in 1980s British suburbia
By Rachel Cooke - 20 June 12:07

The setting is suburban posh – we are in Richmond – and the teenagers that stroll and sometimes strut across its pages are privileged types who attend smart private schools.

Playground for the rich: Tomson Golf Club in Shanghai. Photo: Alessandro Rizzi/Luz/Eyevine
The Chinese golf courses that don’t officially exist
By Simon Kuper - 20 June 12:00

The Forbidden Game uses golf – a game that most in the country probably still know nothing about – to gain a rare insight into ordinary Chinese lives. 

In the Frame: the DeHobo 5000
By Tom Humberstone - 20 June 11:34

Tom Humberstone's weekly comic.

City limits: scavengers on a landfill site in Lagos. Teju Cole charts the underside of Nigeria's growth. Photo: Jacob Silberberg/Panos
Johannesburg and Lagos: two striking new portraits
By Hedley Twidle - 20 June 10:00

These two city books are linked by an inquiry into the mysterious ways in which the spaces of our early lives come to structure imagination, creativity and the self.

Woman in the crime mask: J K Rowling, AKA Robert Galbraith
Mark Lawson: J K Rowling and the chamber of secret names
By Mark Lawson - 19 June 17:00

Cuckoo’s Calling sold just a few hundred copies when thought to be by “Robert Galbraith”, then millions when its true author was revealed. But should the mask have stayed on longer?

A workman spends his lunch hour looking at paintings in the Whitechapel Gallery, 1933. Photo: Getty
Tracey Thorn: my London is blue plaques, plague pits and gin not 4x4s and basement gyms
By Tracey Thorn - 19 June 15:59

London is both in my blood and not. I am of the place, and not of it, and I feel or imagine sentimental connections at every twist and turn.

Lots of money: characters from Channel 4's The Auction House
Zebra-stripe pouffes and a big bronze vagina: Channel 4’s The Auction House
By Rachel Cooke - 19 June 15:38

I loathed pretty much every buyer we saw but I was able to keep my disgust in check by thinking of them as upmarket recyclers. 

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "22 Jump Street".
22 Jump Street isn’t just homofriendly – it’s homolovely
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 June 13:21

Time and again this smart sequel turns down the opportunity to make homosexuality the butt of the joke. Instead, it provides a welcome mainstream attack on homophobia.

Odd couple: Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars. Photo: 20th Century Fox
Love in a time of cancer: The Fault in Our Stars
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 June 12:43

An unconventional romance between two young cancer patients is not as hard-hitting as it could be. 

Carla Bruni. Photo: Getty
Antonia Quirke on radio: Carla Bruni's last tango in Paris
By Antonia Quirke - 19 June 10:37

Oh, Paris. So nostalgic, so mythical. “Do they say that in English – mythical? Ah, yes! So mythical!”

The Gout by James Gillray, courtesy of the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford/Bridgeman Images
This won't hurt a bit: the cultural history of pain
By Joanna Bourke - 19 June 10:00

Speculation about the degree to which human beings and animals experienced pain has a long history.