The latest on books and the arts


Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #12
By Critical Distance - 02 April 9:52

History, politics and policing.

Films about queer women rarely stray from "lesbian drama" clichés – but things are improving
By Eleanor Margolis - 31 March 18:29

The vast majority of films about lesbians are underpinned by a uniquely cringemaking brand of earnestness; Appropriate Behaviour breaks the mould.

Trevor Noah, the South African comedian announced as the new host of the Daily Show. Photo: Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV
Why outsiders like John Oliver and Trevor Noah are taking over American late night TV
By Esther Breger - 31 March 14:25

South African Trevor Noah, the newly-announced host of The Daily Show, joins Brits John Oliver and James Corden in the US’s coveted late-night slots.

“The sex industry is f***ing diabolical”: Artist Sam Roddick on the modern politics of sex
By Anoosh Chakelian - 30 March 16:59

The sex workers’ rights activist and artist calls on the government to protect the sex industry, as her new exhibition on objectification explores society's sexual failings.

The New Statesman Podcast | Episode Eighty-Four
By New Statesman - 30 March 12:48

John Gray on Ed Miliband.

Herdwick and Swaledale sheep roam the hills in spring. Photo: Ashley Cooper/Rex
James Rebanks: “Shepherding is beautiful and interesting. It’s a dignified and decent way to live”
By Caroline Crampton - 30 March 12:36

Caroline Crampton spends the day with James Rebanks, Twitter’s best-known shepherd and author of The Shepherds Life, and learns how he’s updating the centuries-old sheep-farming traditions of the Lake District for the modern day.

Wishy-washy liberalism or the sinister state? The revival of Aristotle in modern politics
By Jules Evans - 30 March 10:31

We now live in the era of the “politics of wellbeing”. But what does that actually mean?

The Coalition will be televised: behind the scenes of Channel 4’s drama about May 2010
By Anoosh Chakelian - 28 March 8:30

James Graham’s film about the formation of the coalition is an impressively human portrayal of constitutional torment.

Children from St Joseph's School, Nottingham, try out “Mission Control” – one of the games at the new National Videogame Arcade. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The cultural importance of the video game arcade
By Simon Parkin - 27 March 17:25

Once upon a time the arcade was the only place in which the video game could be encountered. Now that games are more often found in our homes and pockets, the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham hopes to give games a physical venue again.

Young Fathers interview: “Pop needs to represent culture as it really is”
By Kate Mossman - 27 March 15:50

The Scottish trio tell Kate Mossman why they want racists to hear their music.

Bette Davis, smoking. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
I only have the occasional fag and I don’t long for nicotine – it’s the society of smoking that I crave
By Suzanne Moore - 27 March 14:50

Smoking for David? It could only be Hockney. Smoker extraordinaire, and not a bad painter either.

Grin and bear it: the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, in Essex in February 2015. Photo: PETER MACDIARMID/GETTY IMAGES
Planes, pains and automobiles: the memoir-manifestos by Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage
By Ann Treneman - 27 March 14:37

New autobiographies by Nigel Farage and Caroline Lucas get a kick out of calling themselves "outsiders". The truth? They want your votes.

Hegel, in a 19th century portrait. Image: WikiCommons
Slavoj Žižek: A modest rejoinder
By Slavoj Zizek - 27 March 14:24

“Although I am far from a well-meaning liberal, I simply cannot recognise myself in the lunatic-destructive figure described by Cohen.”

Thicke as thieves? Photo: David Buchan/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: Your songs are like your children – you have to wave them off into the world
By Tracey Thorn - 27 March 14:20

Copyright law encourages artists to feel they're in control of what they've made. But in reality, a song is a different thing once it leaves its creator.

In the Frame: The Grand Passive Aggressive Watergate Hotel
By Tom Humberstone - 27 March 12:13

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Into the arms of space: flying used to be rare and splendid
How to fly a plane (safely): Erica Wagner rediscovers flight's wonder with a BA pilot
By Erica Wagner - 27 March 11:17

Mark Vanhoenacker's Skyfaring reminds us of the magic of aviation.

Narendra Modi during a live 3D hologram telecast in Mumbai, April 2014
The Modi Effect: how India elected a hologram
By Raghu Karnad - 27 March 11:00

A New Labour spin doctor's account of a record-breaking election campaign.

Saving grace: Cara Delevingne as Melanie.
Winterbottom’s Face of an Angel is an idea masquerading as a movie
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 March 15:35

Cara Delevingne stars in the latest film from director Michael Winterbottom, which takes its inspiration from the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Three colours: Cameron (Mark Dexter), Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Brown (Ian Grieve)
As this government comes to a close, Rachel Cooke is glued to Channel 4's Coalition
By Rachel Cooke - 26 March 15:34

James Graham's mischievous account of the heady days following the last election is Where’s Wally? for people who watch Newsnight.

Maximum exposure: Rita Hayworth plays the femme fatale in Gilda (1946)
Sex, lies and videotape: Barry Forshaw's Sex and Film lays bare the erotic traditions of cinema
By Jane Shilling - 26 March 15:32

Sex and Film: the Erotic in British, American and World Cinema is a survey of sex on celluloid, from Tarzan to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Live through this: Jenny Erpenbeck's new novel makes us question death - and life
By Neel Mukherjee - 26 March 15:30

The End of Days kills its protagonist five times in a novel grounded in the turbulence of 20th-century Europe.

The kids are alright. Photo: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images
Generation why: Georgia Gould's Wasted shows an alternative view of Britain's youth
By Owen Jones - 26 March 15:30

Young people are characterised as apathetic and wasteful; but the young drink less and commit less crime. Wasted: How Misunderstanding Young Britain Threatens Our Future reveals the truth.

Born to rule: Public schools remain a closed shop, expanding only to cater for an increasingly global elite. Photo: PETER MARLOW/MAGNUM PHOTOS. MARTIN PARR
The Old Boys: Classroom to boardroom, public schools excel in lessons of power
By Peter Wilby - 26 March 15:28

For many, public schools represent an ongoing problem in the battle for equality. But what can be done to level the playing field? A new book by David Turner considers the ongoing hold of the private system.

An illustration from beautiful birds.
Secrets beyond the door: the best children's fiction for Easter
By Amanda Craig - 26 March 15:28

Amanda Craig picks the best children’s books for spring.

Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in 2005. Photo: BBC
Ten years later, the new Doctor Who is still here
By Jonn Elledge - 26 March 10:42

Ten years ago today, Doctor Who returned to our screens – and in spite of big changes, it continues to amaze its most loyal fans.

The Portsmouth Sinfonia. Photo: Columbia
Our mob mentality is like a bad orchestra: we saw away at the same tunes and ignore the racket
By Will Self - 26 March 10:33

At the Heart of Darkness is an unthinking trust in institutions. How else do you explain the Portsmouth Sinfonia?

Wine being poured. Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Image
Wine with vindaloo: a tale of two settlers
By Nina Caplan - 26 March 10:24

Despite all its associations, vinha d’alhos is a mongrel dish - and the fraught question of what we ought to drink needs an international answer.

Ben Still and Naomi Watts in While We're Young.
Noah Baumbach's While We're Young goes beyond the usual tired hipster stereotypes
By Ryan Gilbey - 25 March 16:31

A Brooklyn-based comedy that's more than just jokes about avocado and almond-milk sorbet.

Sara Najafi (centre-right) organises a controversial concert in Iran.
When singing is a revolutionary act: the women challenging Iran's fear of female creativity
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 25 March 9:06

No Land's Song, a new documentary by Ayat Najafi, follows her sister Sara's fight to put on a revolutionary concert. 

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #11
By Critical Distance - 23 March 16:27

The punk scene of game making.