The latest on books and the arts


The Jam play the Manchester Apollo, 1980. Photo: Harry Potts/Flickr
Slaves to the rhythm: what the non-frontmen have to say
By James Medd - 18 June 12:42

Accounts of The Jam, the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper and Belle and Sebastian come from the back.

László Krasznahorkai after receiving the Man Booker International Award. Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Man Booker winner László Krasznahorkai is not “difficult” – only defiant
By Jane Shilling - 18 June 12:38

Seiobo There Below, translated by Ottilie Mulzet, is László Krasznahorkai's most recent novel in English.

Game of Thrones: Trust me, if SPOILER were really dead, they'd have died in episode 9
By Jonn Elledge - 18 June 12:15

The sudden death in the last scene of Monday's Game of Thrones was a cliffhanger, nothing more.

Right to roam: our minds’ ability to wander is what allows us to forge creative links. Picture: © Martin O'Neil
This is your brain on unread emails: does the information age stop us thinking straight?
By Sophie McBain - 18 June 12:10

Three new books explore the modern information assault - and how to survive it.

Peer review: Shaw “crowded his pages with writers’ names to show he was no solitary eccentric, but part of an international zeitgeist”. Photo: AKG-Images
“I want to be the Irish Nietzsche”: what the Übermensch meant to Bernard Shaw
By Michael Holroyd - 18 June 12:08

What did Shaw admire in Nietzsche? In the absence of God, both were seeking a purpose.

James Rhodes performs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images
In pianist James Rhodes' self-hatred, there is a compelling case for empathy
By Caroline Crampton - 18 June 12:06

In his memoir Instrumental, it feels at times as though Rhodes is daring you to dismiss him, to find his story trivial or inferior.

Meditate wildly: a drawing by Kundera from the 1970s.
In Milan Kundera’s first new novel in 15 years, the novelty begins to wear thin
By Leo Robson - 18 June 11:53

Over the past 30 years, virtually all of Kundera’s innovations have been either imitated or overtaken. Kundera's challenge is to outlive his own novelty.

The great outdoors: much of the new writing on nature explores both the internal and external worlds of the authors. Photo: Sandra Cunningham/Trevillion Images
Death of the naturalist: why is the “new nature writing” so tame?
By Mark Cocker - 17 June 10:05

The so-called new nature writing has become a publishing phenomenon, but how much do its authors truly care about our wild places?

Bloomsday celebrations: outside Sweny’s, where you can still buy Leopold Bloom’s lemon-scented soap. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL/PA ARCHIVE/PRESS ASSOCIATION IMAGES
Following in James Joyce's footsteps: meet the ordinary people keeping Ulysses alive
By Stephen Cox - 16 June 12:13

A visit to Sweny's chemist in Dublin, which still sells the soap Leopold Bloom buys in Ulysses, reveals those who are keeping the book alive.

David McVicar’s new production of Mozart’s first successful opera is a vision innocent of its own Orientalism
By Alexandra Coghlan - 15 June 16:53

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, or The Abduction from the Seraglio, hits the spot when staged at Glyndebourne.

What does Magna Carta mean today? Text detail from the charter at Salisbury Cathedral. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
What does Magna Carta mean? Anthony Barnett responds
By Anthony Barnett - 13 June 12:18

Anthony Barnett, founder of openDemocracy and New Statesman contributor, writes a fiery response to our recent magazine package on Magna Carta.

“Don’t Starve” is one recent game that encourages players to appreciate the real consequence of death. Image: Klei Entertainment
What can “permadeath” video games teach us about suicide?
By Joe Donnelly - 12 June 12:13

Permanence and finality in video games can help us be better at understanding, and talking about, mental health issues.

The NS Podcast #97: What makes us bored?
By New Statesman - 12 June 11:36

Plus: the tube map is rubbish.

Stephen Mangan in Sky Arts' Birthday. Photo: Sky Arts
The Mumsnet bloggers left me queasy – but Birthday is still excellent television
By Rachel Cooke - 11 June 18:29

I loved Birthday, but the bloggers were mostly unable to see beyond personal experience in the matter of art.

Chris Pratt: Jurassic World's "miracle of nature". Photo: Universal Pictures
Even with Chris Pratt and his velociraptors, Jurassic World fails to thrill
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 June 18:20

Ryan Gilbey reviews two sequels: The Look of Silence and Jurassic World.

TS Eliot, whose Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock has its centenary this year. Photo: Chris Bacon/AFP/Getty Images
On the air, the actors come and go: how the establishment adopted T S Eliot
By Antonia Quirke - 11 June 18:13

It's the quickest shortcut to gravitas. T S Eliot has been stolen by actors, like burglars with the crown jewels.

Christopher Lee at the Locarno Film Festival in 2013. Photo: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty
Actor Christopher Lee dies in hospital aged 93
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 11 June 12:48

The actor passes away after respiratory problems and heart failure.

A portion of the Magna Carta, which Melvyn Bragg says is the foundation of modern freedom. Photo: British Library
It made us free: Melvyn Bragg on Magna Carta
By Melvyn Bragg - 11 June 9:50

Parliamentary democracy, trial by jury or habeas corpus - it can be argued that all these flowed from this document.

Helen Kennedy argues that the Magna Carta was influenced by the French. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
French Kissing: Helena Kennedy on Magna Carta
By Helena Kennedy - 11 June 8:58

As we congratulate ourselves on Magna Carta, let us remember that it came into being 150 years after the Norman Conquest and was probably greatly influenced by the French.

Chasing the dragon: the 19th-century craze for opium made a fortune for many adventurers. Image: William Douglas Almond/ Private Collection / © Look And Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images
Amitav Ghosh concludes his Opium War trilogy in brilliant, ramshackle style
By Randy Boyagoda - 11 June 8:53

Amitav Ghosh’s new novel, Flood of Fire, takes you to the end of its exploring, only to hint that the story is just beginning.

Windows on the sole: why we buy shoes we’re never going to wear
By Jane Shilling - 11 June 8:39

As Shoes: Pleasure and Pain opens at London’s V&A, Jane Shilling explores why our footwear carries such emotional weight.

Sound investment: the history of the record industry is a tale of technology, stars and shady deals. Photo Montage by Dan Murrell
Music is free now – and the industry only has itself to blame
By Bob Stanley - 11 June 8:35

Bob Stanley unpicks the recording industry’s tangled history of takeovers, piracy and changing technology.

Quite contrary: a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft (circa 1787) by John Keenan. Photo: Private Collection/Bridgeman Images
Finding vindication: on the intertwined lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley
By Melissa Benn - 11 June 8:27

Charlotte Gordon has managed to produce that rare thing, a work of genuinely popular history.

The poisoning of King John: one of Magna Carter's terrible kings. Photo: British Library
Tom Holland: Magna Carta was forged from royal failure
By Tom Holland - 11 June 8:18

No coincidence that the most celebrated of all the waymarks on the road to freedom under the law was sealed by England’s most appalling king.

Inscrutable and rootless: the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo: Rex
Condemned to death, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains inscrutable
By Nicky Woolf - 11 June 8:06

That evil is banal has been observed. The route to it in the case of the Tsarnaevs was a meandering path to which hindsight can bring little meaningful insight.

The coronation of King Henry III: is the Magna Carter a warning to radicals? Photo: British Library
Not so radical: Jesse Norman on Magna Carta's conservatism
By Jesse Norman - 11 June 8:02

Here, as so often in our history, it is property rights that secure individual freedom.

Cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus founded the Cannon film company. Photo: YouTube screengrab
The Cannon Group: the most disreputable duo in cinema?
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 June 16:35

Looking back at the exploitation enterprise of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's cinematic output.

The poet Craig Raine, whose "Gatwick" started a twitter storm. Photo courtesy the author
"Of course, the stupid are always with us": Craig Raine defends his Gatwick poem
By Craig Raine - 10 June 16:13

I realise the purpose is to make me feel like a war criminal. Sorry, tweeters, I don’t.

Joshua Oppenheimer: "Non-fiction cinema is doing what journalism should be doing"
By Yohann Koshy - 10 June 15:31

The US director is continuing to expose the stories of Indonesia's past atrocities, and sees film as a conduit to subjects investigative journalism no longer has the resources to reach.