The latest on books and the arts
SRSLY #1: Grey Beginnings

In the first episode of the NS's new pop culture podcast, we discuss Grey by E L James, the new Amy Winehouse documentary, and why One Direction is actually the saddest music you will ever hear.

The gospel according to Taylor Swift: how her vulnerability leads to power
By Simon Parkin - 29 June 13:13

Pop's woman of the moment forms a friendship with fans through her honest lyrics and disarming stage presence.

Sandi Toksvig welcoming her guests for her last News Quiz. Photo: BBC/Lucy Eliot-Higgitt
Black tie, BBC “bias” and blubbing: at Sandi Toksvig’s last News Quiz
By Caroline Crampton - 26 June 15:33

The host of BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz is stepping down after nine years to go into politics. Caroline Crampton was there at her last recording.

Blood and honour: The Duel After the Masquerade (1857-59) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Picture: © Walter Art Museum, Baltimore
Why are there so many duels in literature?
By John Mullan - 25 June 15:15

John Leigh's Touché: the Duel in Literature wears its learning lightly.

The romantic end of punk: not required for university admissions. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images
My Ucca form wouldn't impress today – I was loitering at bustops and listening to The Cure
By Tracey Thorn - 25 June 14:56

I’d love to go back and read that Ucca form now. Or witness the expression on the faces of those who had to consider my application.

A bandmember at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
"The singing war": how the American Civil War created a whole new style of music
By Antonia Quirke - 25 June 14:46

It was not just a huge body of songs that emerged but a whole musical style that was markedly non-European.

The Seattle Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry. Photo: REX
Alan Yentob's TV tribute to Frank Gehry was so in thrall, it was embarrassing
By Rachel Cooke - 25 June 14:23

The Gehry worshippers were like fashion editors at a Prada show, only minus the clothes, handbags and hair.

Back to the OK Corral: Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee (right) star in Slow West.
New indie western Slow West is filled with resonant emotions
By Ryan Gilbey - 25 June 14:16

The Beta Band's John Maclean makes his directorial debut with a wry, rootsy love story.

Sangiovese grapes, the variety used to make the Brunello di Montalcino wine. Photo: Getty Images
The grape that brought power to the people
By Nina Caplan - 25 June 10:31

In wine, the tendrils of power spread like well-nourished vines, wrapping around some surprising edifices.

Romantic revolutionary: Pushkin is seen as the founder of modern Russian literature. Photo: AKG-Images
Russian soul reawakened: startling revelations in a new anthology of Russian poetry
By George Szirtes - 25 June 10:19

The new Penguin Book of Russian Poetry has surprises to offer.

Steve Hilton is offering energetic ideas with a liberal twist. Photo: Sarah Lee/Guardian News & Media
Kind of blue: why Steve Hilton's manifesto is a challenge to the left
By Jon Cruddas - 25 June 10:11

Where is the equivalent to Hilton on the left? We have not even touched on the questions of human fulfilment, power and radical democracy that are offered up by modern technological change.

Hand in hand: Chinese and Pakistani border guards at the Khunjerab Pass, which extends between their countries
Farewell to the American century
By Mark Leonard - 25 June 10:09

As US influence wanes, a new world is emerging.

No resistance: an anti-drone protest in Pakistan.
Eyes in the sky: the legal and philosophical implications of drone warfare
By David Patrikarakos - 25 June 10:07

Regardless of its critics, drone warfare is here to stay.

Sometimes these characters go dancing in Shoreditch or Clapham – but they never enjoy it. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Check your privilege: satire is lacking in Left of the Bang by Claire Lowdon
By Philip Maughan - 25 June 10:05

A “cast of two-dimensional, middle-class bores” prevent this debut novel becoming the “Vanity Fair for our times” that it promises.

The director Nicolas Roeg in the new BBC Four documentary. Photo: BBC
“This is my time”: why the work of filmmaker Nicolas Roeg rewards a second look
By Ryan Gilbey - 24 June 17:07

A new BBC Four documentary reminds us not to take this director for granted.

Pages