The latest on books and the arts


Novelist Anne Enright poses at an Auckland writers' festival. Photo: Sandra Mu/Getty Images
Anne Enright's The Green Road is a devastating, savage novel about home
By Frances Wilson - 10 June 10:08

In Rosaleen Madigan, Enright has created a mater dolorosa without rival in the annals of Irish mothers.

Amy Schumer in April 2015. Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Why everyone is talking about Amy Schumer
By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - 09 June 12:48

She’s a feminist comedian who doesn’t shy away from ridiculing women. She reaches millions of viewers on the internet without breaking a sweat. Oh, and she’s just really, really funny.

Far out: Bloch reads much into Kitchener’s preference for the company of young men. Photo: THE PRINT COLLECTOR/PRINT COLLECTOR/GETTY IMAGES
A camp history of Westminster's queer MPs
By Chris Bryant - 08 June 12:02

Michael Bloch's book on homosexuality in the house is fun - but little more than a naughty pleasure.

Lyrics accompanying a city symphony: street names help us do more than just find our way
By Oliver Farry - 05 June 16:16

Street names tell of a city's character and story, rather than simply being a function to help us get around.

The NS Podcast #96: A limerick and Ali Smith
By New Statesman - 05 June 11:26

Plus, the leadership race.

Cracks up: Anthony Andrews and Cara Theobold in The Syndicate.
The (utterly batty) Syndicate is the gift that keeps on giving
By Rachel Cooke - 04 June 17:41

I would love to have been in the meeting when Mellor pitched this version of her drama.

Have smoking jacket, will travel: Wilde, photographed in New York in January 1882 by Napoleon Sarony. Photo: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
How Oscar Wilde cracked America
By Philip Hoare - 04 June 14:06

The story of Wilde's coming to America is also the story of modern celebrity.

Caroll Spinney (left, wearing legs) with Big Bird architect Kermit Love. Photo: © COPPER POT PICTURES
How Big Bird got to Sesame Street
By Erica Wagner - 04 June 13:42

Caroll Spinney has been playing Sesame Street's star for 46 years. I Am Big Bird shows the man behind the feathery mask.

Handel, who new research suggests has invested in the slave trade. Photo: YouTube screengrab
In Search of the Black Mozart: A revealing look at Handel's investment in the slave trade
By Antonia Quirke - 04 June 11:54

The programme slowed palpably to accept the age-old information that people who create beauty aren’t always good and frequently don’t even come close.

The demure bulldozer: Melissa McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper in Spy.
In Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, the Moneypennies trump the Bonds
By Ryan Gilbey - 04 June 11:48

These back-room frumps whisper instructions into the earpieces of tuxedo-wearing spies out on the casino floors, or save them from pursuers by launching strategic missile attacks at a moment’s notice.

to get into clubs, Rodgers used to have to explain to bouncers that he’d written the songs the DJ was playing inside. Photo: PAL HANSEN/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES
The man with two brains: inside the strange mind of Nile Rodgers
By Kate Mossman - 04 June 9:56

Nile Rodgers is responsible for $2bn worth of hits – with Chic, Madonna, David Bowie – but he can’t switch off the noise in his head.

Red wine being poured in Paris. Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
An inspired sommelier loves two things at least as much as wine: people and stories
By Nina Caplan - 04 June 9:34

I’ve nothing against celebrated wines: enormous care and attention goes into their creation. Still, a little imagination is a heavenly thing.

City lights: Gavin Corbett reimagines Manhattan. Photo: © IRENE SUCHOCKI
Green Glowing Skull is a fantasy for modern Manhattan
By Erica Wagner - 04 June 9:04

Gavin Corbett blends the implacable logic of a folk tale with a funny, alternative-present setting.Gavin Corbett blends the implacable logic of a folk tale with a funny, alternative-present setting.

Ali Smith with her award-winning novel "How to be both". Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Why we still need women-only book prizes
By Sarah Ditum - 04 June 7:36

Ali Smith’s How to be both, the winner of the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, is a particularly apt riposte to the literary class divide that says men are serious and women are silly.

Happy Jerry. Photo: Natural History Museum.
Culture vultures: which species have changed the way we portray the natural world in film and literature?
By Tosin Thompson - 01 June 17:14

BBC Radio 4 and the Natural History Museum join forces in a weekly series called Natural Histories to tell the story of 25 species that changed the world.

The art of rapprochement: what the Havana Biennale reveals about thawing Cuba-US relations
By Rick Jones - 01 June 16:39

How symbolism and happiness are captured in joint American-Cuban cultural endeavours.

David Byrne, who is curating the Southbank Centre's Meltdown festival. Photo: CHALKIE DAVIES/GETTY IMAGES
David Byrne: a great curator beats any big company's algorithm
By David Byrne - 01 June 11:49

The Talking Heads member on curating the Southbank Centre's Meltdown festival, the unfairness of book awards, and why the best line-ups surprise.

George Lucas and Mark Hamill on the Star Wars set in Tunisia. Photo: LUCASFILM LTD
Want to understand Star Wars fans? Start here
By Tom Shone - 01 June 11:35

It’s junk cinema but, like the Millennium Falcon, it’s fast junk – and don’t you dare call it junk unless you’re a fan, for only its fans can criticise it.

Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Do It Like a Woman, at the National Women's Conference. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
What does it mean to Do It Like A Woman in a sexist society?
By Rachel Holmes - 01 June 10:51

After successfully earning Jane Austen a place on the £10 note, Caroline Criado-Perez has turned to feminist action around the globe.

Judy Blume, whose In the Unlikely Event is out now. Photo: LINDA NYLIND/THE GUARDIAN
Even as an adult, reading Judy Blume feels like being admitted into a secret club
By Sarah Ditum - 01 June 10:42

In the Unlikely Event is Blume's first novel for adults since 1998. If only grown-up fiction learned from teen writing more often.

Tomorrowland has been a commercial flop. Photo: YouTube screengrab
It wasn't just audiences that caused Disney's George Clooney blockbuster Tomorrowland to flop
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 May 18:44

To look at the campaign for Tomorrowland, you’d think Disney had already decided it was yesterday’s news.

Joivan Wade and Lenny Henry at the Hackney Empire in 2014. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Lenny Henry: There is only one certain way to smash the black glass ceiling in television
By Lenny Henry - 29 May 14:26

The television industry is 94 per cent white and, like some bad washing detergent commercial, it seems to be getting whiter all the time.

Stevie Nicks performing in New York on New Year's Eve 2014. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty
Whither we mature ladies, once our rock-chick years are over?
By Tracey Thorn - 29 May 9:44

If I look to the generations above me, the still successful men form a long list – Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Springsteen, the Stones et al.

Indian Muslims seek blessings on Eid al-Fitr at the shrine of Sufi Muslim poet Amir Khusro. Photo: Tengku Bahar/AFP/Getty
In search of a Sufi saint on Radio 4’s Incarnations: India in 50 Lives
By Antonia Quirke - 29 May 9:38

As we advance through the series, its cities and centuries sounding like some powerful exclamation, what is happening more subtly is a sense of the country cohering as a nation.

Ruth Wilson as Alison and Dominic West as Noah in "The Affair". Photo: Showtime
The Affair is weirdly, unnervingly unsexy - but I'm addicted
By Rachel Cooke - 29 May 9:36

Dominic West and Ruth Wilson are wonderful actors, but no one can claim that The Affair is Mad Men-style high art.

Cruel fate: a victim in Sissako’s drama.
Fade to black: everyday persecution and religious fundamentalism in Timbuktu
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 May 9:35

Ryan Gilbey is left feeling chilled by Abderrahmane Sissako’s remarkable Timbuktu.

In the Frame: The Satirist
By Tom Humberstone - 29 May 9:00

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Raised sights: a version of Joshua Reynolds’s portrait A Young Black (c.1770), believed to be of Francis Barber. Image: PRIVATE COLLECTION/THE BLOOMSBURY WORKSHOP/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES
The Jamaican slave who became Samuel Johnson's heir
By Ian Thomson - 28 May 15:53

In 1752, Johnson’s low spirits were relieved somewhat by the arrival from Jamaica of Francis Barber.

Far and away: Phnom Penh is the backdrop to Osborne’s drama of ambiguous identities. Photo: PAULA BRONSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES
An innocent abroad: Hunters in the Dark is a shady portrait of travel
By Douglas Kennedy - 28 May 15:45

Lawrence Osborne's new book, set in Cambodia, grapples with manifold questions about identity.