mon 26/02/2024

Books features

Extract: Bacon in Moscow by James Birch

In 1988, James Birch – curator, art dealer, and gallery owner – took Francis Bacon to Moscow. It was, as he writes, "an unimaginable intrusion of Western Culture into the heart of the Soviet system". At a time of powerful political tension and...

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10 Questions for writer and translator Saskia Vogel

Johanne Lykke Holm’s spellbinding novel Strega recounts one teen’s journey into womanhood. Leaving her parental home to work with eight other girls in a lavish but mouldering hotel, Rafa grapples with what it means to be a woman in a world...

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'The first thing I do when I wake up is write.' Hilary Mantel, 1952-2022

Hilary Mantel, who has died at the age of 70, was a maker of literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book about the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. Three years later its successor,...

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Extract: My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women

"My pen is the wing of a bird; it will tell you those thoughts we are not allowed to think, those dreams we are not allowed to dream." Batool Haidari’s words give this bold collection of stories its title and epigraph. She is one of 18 writers from...

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The Holiness of Sex: Leonard Cohen's Biblical Theology

On hearing that I had recently written a book about Leonard Cohen, someone asked me why I thought Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature rather than Cohen. Not being a Nobel prize adjudicator I couldn’t answer the question but I did...

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Barry Adamson: Up Above the City, Down Beneath the Stars review - the post-punk colossus spills his guts in a raw style

For those not familiar with the murkier corners of British rock music history, Barry Adamson was a significant player in creating the post-punk sound of the late 1970s and early 1980s. More musical and nuanced than the primitive punk sound of the...

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Tangled Up in Blue: Bob Dylan turns 80

In May 1981, a new-minted music graduate newly embarked on a career in journalism, I was pleased as punch to secure a commission from Capital Radio. Forever Young: Dylan at 40 was broadcast on 24 May. I’ve a tape of it somewhere, this 30-minute...

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Music books to end lockdown: Sam Lee, Hawkwind, Dylan, Richard Thompson, and the Electric Muses

It won’t be long now before concert halls and back rooms, arts centres and festival grounds fill with people again, and live music, undistanced, unmasked, and in your face, comes back to us. In expectation of this gradual reopening of the stage...

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Alice Ash: Paradise Block review - a matrix-like collection that reinvents the short story genre

“Burglar alarms jangled through the empty hallways of Paradise Block.” In this ramshackle, lonely tenement, such alarms might be one’s only company. Yet, in this intricate collection of short stories, the inhabitants’ lives intertwine. Alice Ash’s...

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Extract: 'On Loneliness' by Fatimah Asghar, from 'The Good Immigrant USA'

The infamous border wall. Prolonged detention. Children in cages. Even as Biden's election promises a sea change in Trump's devastatingly hardline immigration policy, immigrants, both first- and second-generation, face a spectrum of prejudice,...

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Vincent van Gogh: the reader and the writer

A life in art, a life in looking; a life in writing, a life in reading; a life fuelled by passionate emotions, personal attachments and religious turmoil. There are a few artists whose lives are so intertwined with their work that their biography as...

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Book extract: Holiday Heart by Margarita García Robayo translated by Charlotte Coombe

Holiday heart, instead of sentimental love discovered on vacation, describes a faltering organ, overloaded from excess consumption: a heart at risk. In Margarita Garcia Robayo’s brilliantly observant, often sardonically pitched novel, the heart...

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