The latest on books and the arts


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.

A child in Romania picks up free books from the pavement on World Book Day. Photo: Getty
Why are children’s books still promoting gender stereotypes?
By Tricia Lowther - 06 March 10:48

A good book should be open to anyone, so why do some children’s publishers restrict readership according to gender?

Wall of silence: abandoned terraced housing in Doncaster. Photo: Rex Features
Empty nests: All That is Solid by Danny Dorling
By Lynsey Hanley - 06 March 10:25

The sad disappearance of the British “average neighbourhood”.

An English sergeant rests at a memorial to the Italian soldiers of World War I, Sicily, 1943
Lambs to the slaughter: In the Wolf’s Mouth by Adam Foulds
By Tom Gatti - 06 March 10:08

An ambitious and wide-ranging novel about allied soldiers in Sicily during the Second World War.

Clash of the tartans: English cider at the Highland games in Tomintoul, north-east Scotland. Photo: Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
How Scotland got crafty with beer and fooled the English with gin
By Nina Caplan - 06 March 10:06

It's not all about whisky north of the border.

Child support: a march in Northumberland at the end of the miners's strike, 1985. Photo: Rex Features
Writing the strike: poetry from the 1980s miners’ picket lines
By Katy Shaw - 06 March 10:05

Writing was fundamental to the protest, yet the poems and songs have been largely lost from popular memory.

We are family: the cast of Outnumbered at the National Television Awards in 2012. Photo: Getty Images
For half an hour a week, I turn on the TV and watch the future I won’t have
By Nicholas Lezard - 06 March 10:03

Watching BBC1's Outnumbered is less painful now but it's still bitter-sweet.

The Vegetable Gardener by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
From food and shelter to Nigella and Kirstie: the rise of lifestyle
By Jane Shilling - 06 March 10:02

Two new books on cooking and interiors explore 20th century society's biggest paradigm shift.

Beaubourg boo-boo: view of the the Pompidou Centre in Paris, by Richard Rogers, arguably the point at which he sold out
Hippies to yuppies: the Brits Who Built the Modern World
By Tom Dyckhoff - 06 March 10:01

Foster, Rogers and co began their careers with radical and idealistic values. So why did they end up building flats for oligarchs?

Same generation: Girls cast members at a panel discussion in Pasadena this January
Privilege and post-feminism: Eat My Heart Out by Zoe Pilger
By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - 06 March 10:00

Like the US TV series Girls – but for people who went to Cambridge.

Life of crime: Val McDermid, pictured in 2004, has recently returned to Scotland
Val McDermid: living the tartan noir in Edinburgh
By Val McDermid - 06 March 10:00

The Scottish capital has a long tradition of crime fiction. Now one of the genre’s modern proponents comes home.

Brother Hermes, a Colombian priest, prepares for an exorcism in Bogota. Photo: Getty Images
Radio 4’s the Exorcist: a restrained yet chilling adaptation
By Antonia Quirke - 06 March 10:00

Included the writer’s many nods to literature and film, absent from the film version.

Flawless in a barrister's wig: Maxine Peake as Martha Costello in Silk
BBC1’s Silk: we’ve come a long way since Juliet Bravo
By Rachel Cooke - 06 March 10:00

The legal drama in which m’learned ladies aren’t just tolerated but adored.

Yesterday’s Dreams by Jack Vettriano
Jack Vettriano: standing in the shadows of love
By Jack Vettriano - 06 March 10:00

Scotland’s favourite painter on the art of heartbreak.

A pro-independence Scot at a rally in Edinburgh. Photo: David Moir/Reuters
The rise of Borgen nationalism
By Andrew Marr - 06 March 10:00

The conundrum of Britishness and the condition of Scotland.

Florence Nightingale in Scutari hospital during the Crimean War. Photo: Getty Images
Beautiful Science at the British Library: a history of the portrayal of data
By Michael Brooks - 06 March 10:00

A highlight is Florence Nightingale’s rose diagram, showing how dirty hospitals were killing more soldiers than war.

You can take the boy out of Cumbernauld... Craig Ferguson rocks a kilt in LA
Letter from America: feeling right at home in la-la land
By Craig Ferguson - 06 March 10:00

The Scots-born US TV host, stand-up and writer on life with two passports.

One for the rails: Christmas in a train buffet car, 1934
Kirsty Wark: in praise of the London to Glasgow sleeper train
By Kirsty Wark - 06 March 9:00

The Newsnight presenter hotfoots it to Euston from the BBC and unwinds with a glass of Scotch and some political gossip.

Little Britain, starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, got its start on BBC3.
Should it really be BBC3 that gets the chop?
By Caroline Crampton - 05 March 15:12

If approved by the BBC Trust, the decision would see BBC3 lose its on-air slot and become online-only. Does it deserve the axe?

Lupita Nyong’o with her Oscar at the Vanity Fair party. Photo: Getty
“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful”: Lupita Nyong’o on beauty and skin colour
By Media Mole - 04 March 13:14

In her speech at Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood event, the Oscar winner spoke of how she used to be “teased and taunted about her night-shaded skin”, and how she arrived at the realisation that beauty doesn’t come in shades.

Jonathan Ross and his wife Jane Goldman, a former Hugo Award winner. Photo: Getty
Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction's self-appointed gatekeepers?
By Hayley Campbell - 04 March 12:10

A Twitter campaign forced Jonathan Ross to pull out of hosting an awards ceremony for science fiction books. Was it purely a reaction to his controversial jokes - or were some people more concerned with keeping SFF "pure"?

No dying of this light: All the Rage by A L Kennedy
By Philip Maughan - 04 March 11:00

The 12 stories in A L Kennedy’s latest collection revolve around ordinary people trying to cope with the emotional debris from break-ups, accidents, violence and betrayal.

Stuart Skelton.
It may have come a year too late, but the ENO’s Peter Grimes is no postscript
By Alexandra Coghlan - 03 March 10:42

A year after the Britten centenary, David Alden’s Peter Grimes presents us with a society and a community irretrievably damaged, while the English Touring Opera’s King Priam is a domestic drama, hamstrung by matters of scale.

Lupita Nyong'o, who won best supporting actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. Photo: Getty
Oscar winners 2014: the full list
By New Statesman - 03 March 9:55

12 Years a Slave takes best picture, and Gravity cleans up in the technical categories.

"You’ve got soup. Why haven’t I got any soup?" barks a demanding Withnail
The Swedish menu: Bong water and a casserole beyond William Burroughs’s worst nightmares
By Nicholas Lezard - 28 February 16:19

Searching in vain for chicken soup in Gothenburg.