The latest on books and the arts


Adil Ray and the cast of Citizen Khan. Photo: BBC
Is the BBC still “hideously white”?
By Farrukh Dhondy - 18 March 16:18

Farrukh Dhondy critically surveys television’s coverage of black and Asian lives and issues – and argues that multiculture is simply an acceptable, liberal term for an inclusive, wide, but judgemental monoculture.

“Actually” is the most futile, overused word on the internet
By Claire Carusillo - 18 March 15:13

Whereas “basically” and “well” are relatively harmless tics that crowd our sentences, “actually” has an attitude.

Anne Rice. Photo: Getty
Your book sucks: are authors being bullied with one-star Amazon reviews?
By Hayley Campbell - 17 March 14:31

Anne Rice thinks there are communities of “parasites” intent on dragging down writers by slating their books online. Is she right – and why are we such slaves to the star rating, anyway?

Scarlett Johannson at the premier of Under the Skin at the Venice Film Festival 2013. (Photo: Getty)
Alien landscape: Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 March 15:30

Scarlett Johansson stars as the otherworldly, predatory protagonist in this unsettling sci-fi thriller.

Judy Garland et al at Quaglino's in the 1960s. (Photo: Getty)
Meet the parents: Romany and Tom by Everything But the Girl’s Ben Watt
By Rachel Cooke - 13 March 17:16

The musician’s heart-wrenching memoir of his parents’ long, unhappy marriage.

Versailles, location of the 1919 treaty, in the snow in 2013. (Photo: Getty)
Keeping the peace: Versailles at the Donmar Warehouse
By Andrew Billen - 13 March 16:59

Peter Gill’s epic, often brilliant but finally unsatisfactory three-hour play about the 1919 peace conference.

Protestors in Clichy-sous-Bois, near Paris, 2005. (Photo: Getty)
Battle of the banlieue: the French Intifada by Andrew Hussey
By Charles Bremner - 13 March 16:40

Race relations in modern-day France.

Forever young: films about children
By Mark Cousins - 13 March 16:15

The inhibitions of adulthood mask creativity. No wonder grown-ups love movies about kids.

The singer Brody Dalle
Brody Dalle: the return of tough, surly female singers
By Kate Mossman - 13 March 16:15

Kate Mossman meets the riot mom and wife of Josh Homme, whose sound is a unique brand of domestic hardcore.

"While Trying to Make an Arrowhead in the Fashion of the Mattaponi Indians": a poem by Kevin Powers
By Kevin Powers - 13 March 16:00

We are born to be makers of crude tools.
And our speech is full of cruel
signifiers: you, me, them, us. I
am sure we will not survive.

A 1960s Soviet propaganda poster advocates science over religion. (Bridgeman Art Library)
The ghost at the atheist feast: was Nietzsche right about religion?
By John Gray - 13 March 15:48

John Gray reviews “The Age of Nothing” by Peter Watson and “Culture and the Death of God” by Terry Eagleton.

In living colour: Licht wil raum mecht hern (2013), one of 11 self-portraits in Baselitz’s Farewell Bill series.
Down on the upside: the topsy-turvy painting of Georg Baselitz
By Michael Prodger - 13 March 15:30

Three concurrent London exhibitions showcase work past and present by the East German born neo-expressionist.

Tiger mom: author Amy Chua at a the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2012. (Photo: Getty)
Playing the race card: the Triple Package by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld
By Kwasi Kwarteng - 13 March 14:54

A provocative new exploration of ethnicity vs success in modern America by the authors of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Maureen Lipman: we all need a shoulder to whine on
By Maureen Lipman - 13 March 14:00

The beautiful enigma of empathy and our capacity for creativity are what define us.

Master of the gentle art: Whistler was known for his charm and talent, but also his feuds. (Photo: Corbis)
Foppery and flapdoodle: a life of James Whistler by Daniel E Sutherland
By Alex Danchev - 13 March 13:45

The US-born artist had talent to burn and a weakness for showmanship.

White out: a bidet following a landslide in Costa Rica, 2010. (Photo: Getty)
It’s a happy bidet that contains the LRB, the TLS and a few copies of Viz
By Nicholas Lezard - 13 March 13:30

The appliance hasn’t worked since the days of Callaghan but provides an excellent receptacle for reading matter.

A Worcestershire gardener uses army surplus metal pyramids to force rhubarb in 1962. (Photo: Getty)
Who knew rhubarb had a dark side?
By Felicity Cloake - 13 March 13:15

The dark underworld of West Yorkshire rhubarb forcing.

Pizza the action: Ellen orders takeout for the Oscars. (Photo: Getty)
Punters will always want to eat when at the cinema. It’s time for the film-tailored menu
By Will Self - 13 March 13:13

Cinemas warn you to put your mobile phones on silent but say nothing about the clash of jaws or the gargling of gullets.

Melvyn Bragg says the driving force behind "In Our Time" is that he wants an education. Photograph: Abigail Zoe Martin/BBC
Melvyn Bragg, the nation’s schoolmaster
By Michael Prodger - 13 March 10:34

Melvyn Bragg talks to Michael Prodger about family trauma, educating Britain and why Labour is still “deeply wounded”.

A rainbow over a Yorkshire dale in around 1965. (Photo: Getty)
A mine romance: remembering Maurice Dobson and Fred Halliday
By Ian McMillan - 13 March 10:02

In a South Yorkshire mining village in the 1960s, a gay couple were not just accepted but celebrated by their community.

Good cop: Matthew McConaughy and Woody Harrelson as Detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle
Sky Atlantic’s True Detective: not as much cop as it thinks it is
By Rachel Cooke - 13 March 10:00

Despite the laborious chronology, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughy, as the two detectives, will keep you watching.

Radio 6 Music presenter Craig Charles. (Photo: BBC/Dean Chalkley)
The 6 Music Festival: malfunctions and malapropisms
By Antonia Quirke - 13 March 10:00

Hosts Shaun Keaveny and Craig Charles were left a bit lost for words.

Scarlett Johansson.
Isserley, Penélope Cruz and the slow gestation of Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 March 16:47

Jonathan Glazer's new film Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, took fourteen years to make it to the big screen. Novelist and screenwriter Alexander Stuart recalls the project's early days.

In the Frame: When There's No More Room in Hell
By Tom Humberstone - 07 March 16:18

Tom Humberstone's weekly observational comic for the NS.

Spritz, the speed reading app. (Image: Screenshot)
The smartphone app that claims to make reading 1,000 words per minute a doddle
By Ian Steadman - 07 March 12:55

How fast can you read? Not as fast as you could, according to Spritz.

Ring for reception: Tony Revolori as Zero (centre) in Wes Anderson's artfully fake hotel
Travelling light: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 March 18:06

Anderson’s style became paralysed around the time of The Royal Tenenbaums and this is no exception.

Big trouble: Jumbo with its keeper in around 1882
The first celebrity elephant: Jumbo by John Sutherland
By Philip Hoare - 06 March 18:00

At London Zoo, Jumbo was assumed into the British imagination as a gentle giant.

"The Hinds": a poem by leading Scots poet Kathleen Jamie
By Kathleen Jamie - 06 March 11:01

Walking in a waking dream
I watched nineteen deer
pour from ridge to glen-floor,
then each in turn leap,
leap the new-raised
peat-dark burn. This
was the distaff side;
hinds at their ease, alive

Sea spirit: Hadfield explores Shetland's shores. Photo: Getty Images
Mother tongue: new poetry by Jen Hadfield and John Burnside
By Matthew Sperling - 06 March 11:00

Two new collections by Scottish poets characterised by sharp attention to detail.