Culture 28 December 2016 Best of the NS: Arts Our best pieces from the past year. In this selection, our favourite writing on the arts. MARTIN O’NEIL FOR NEW STATESMAN Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Shakespeare, our contemporary: the Bard 400 years later Credit: Martin O’Neill for New Statesman By Howard Jacobson, Will Self, Germaine Greer, Imogen Stubbs, Simon Callow, James Shapiro, Colm Toibin, Rowan Williams, Andrew Marr, Daljit Nagra. To mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, our contributors nominate the works that speak most urgently to the 21st century. Jon Bon Jovi on Trump, Bono, Bieber — and the agony of his split with Richie Sambora By Kate Mossman I should have cancelled but there was not a chance in hell. The shit I went through on that last tour. I have earned this grey hair." Marina Abramović turned attention seeking into a modern art form By Julie Burchill Reading Abramović's memoir is rather like watching EastEnders: I didn’t learn anything about performance art reading it, but I can't deny I had fun. Credit: Cameron Law for New Statesman Death of the hatchet job By D J Taylor Book reviewing used to be a blood sport. How has it become so benign and polite? He gave a total stranger $50,000 in cash: the strange, multi-million dollar empire of Trans-Siberian Orchestra By Kate Mossman Kate Mossman meets the man behind one of the world’s wealthiest rock bands. Seasons change, Gilmores stay the same By Anna Leszkiewicz Gilmore Girls is fundamentally about two things: inheritance and community. The four seasons are crucial in exploring those themes. It's unfashionable to call someone a "genius" – but William Empson was one By John Gray Father than denying the contradictoriness of being human, Empson revelled in it, as The Face of Buddha reveals. How Frankenstein became a monster – and what he means to us today By Frances Wilson Monstrous Progeny invites us to reflect on two hundred years of a prolific, and horrific, creation. Credit: Tate Paul Nash: the modernity of ancient landscapes By Michael Prodger Famous for his eerie First World War paintings, a new exhibition reminds us why Paul Nash was the greatest British artist of the first half of the 20th century. Sometimes it's hard to be a man – especially if you overthink it By Steven Poole A new outpouring of books show masculinity isn’t in crisis, human beings are. Why the British addiction to period drama is driving away our best black and Asian actors By Andrew Dickon There is a diversity crisis in British TV and film as, increasingly, stars are decamping to America to make their career there. › What were the best political beefs of 2016? Subscribe For more great writing from our award-winning journalists subscribe for just £1 per month!