“It’s about a group of parents and teenagers navigating the new world that we are all trying to figure out – social media, instantaneous access to what each other is thinking, doing, seeing. It’s really about connection.” – Jason Reitman on Men, Women and Children
From page to screen

From page to screen

The hype around the release of Gone Girl is a useful reminder that around half the top-grossing films of the last two decades have been literary adaptations. Bringing a well-loved book to the big screen is relatively risk-free, and this is reflected in the programme of the London Film Festival,...
The cruise of the Allegra

The cruise of the Allegra

It was my first winter cruise. I was a waiter on the Allegra, most of the passengers well-to-do people who spent part of the winter cruising in the warm waters of the Pacific, from Puerto Escondido to Singapore and back, including stops in Australia and New Zealand. That winter we...
Smoke and mirrors

Smoke and mirrors

Mira Jacob’s sumptuous debut novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of a family in flux in the heat of a New Mexico summer. Basking in positive reviews and attention, she reveals that life as an overnight literary sensation is not always as it seems....
Crime and puzzlement

Crime and puzzlement

The reader was at first surprised, then shocked, as the criminal Raskolnikov was abruptly slain in the middle of the street, right before her eyes. Sonya, the hooker with the heart of gold, shot him through the heart. It happened midway through an essay on the Dostoevsky classic. The reader’s...
Labyrinth

Labyrinth

To mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger was commissioned to create a permanent work of public art across the entire network. In each of the Underground’s 270 stations, he placed a uniquely designed labyrinth, an ancient symbol representing spiritual and imaginative voyages akin...
In two words

In two words

Michelle Haimoff’s debut novel These Days Are Ours is a witty and reflective story of a group of bright young things trying to make sense of life and love in post-9/11 New York. The action shifts when the main protagonist Hailey finds herself attracted to a man who seems like...
Taking the Mickey

Taking the Mickey

In May, we ran some pages from Jörg Tittel and John Aggs’ shoot-em-up theme park satire Ricky Rouse Has a Gun, then available only in a limited-run special edition hardback. As the paperback is launched, I catch up with the pair – and a stranger in a giant mouse suit....
Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

In my neck of the woods, so to speak – the southern United States – the question is often posed, especially by people who are from away: “Why is there such a rich literary tradition in a region known to most of the world (those who know it at all)...
Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson draws up a storm

Martin Rowson’s political cartoons for the Guardian, The Mirror and other papers are visually bold and acutely scathing of our MPs’ pitiful attempts to run the country. As we meet around the time of the shaky Scottish independence referendum, he is entertainingly  candid about his run-ins with those in power....
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Nina Stibbe: Out of the box

Nina Stibbe: Out of the box

Nina Stibbe’s first book Love, Nina, a collection of letters written when she was a nanny in the 198os, was the surprise publishing hit of 2013. Andrew O’Hagan called her “The funniest new writer to arrive in years.” In Love, Nina she mentions writing a (semi-autobiographical) novel as part of her polytechnic course. After the...
Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

This major new exhibition at the British Library explores Gothic culture’s roots in British literature and celebrates 250 years since the publication of the first Gothic novel, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Alongside the manuscripts of classic novels such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Jane Eyre, Terror and Wonder brings the dark and macabre to...
Twixt cup and lip

Twixt cup and lip

Alex Preston’s latest novel In Love and War weaves fact and fiction into a compelling tapestry in which a British fascist is sent to Italy to forge a union with Mussolini – and escape the fallout of a scandalous love affair. He wrote it with a pen picked up in Florence… Where are you now?...
Recompense

Recompense

“Something I need you to look at,” Grandfather said, pointing to the bedroom. “We’re both tired. Let’s do it another day,” Slava said, wanting to return to the living room. “Another day with you?” Grandfather said. “Another day with you is a year from now. The deadline is soon. It’ll take only a moment.” Grandfather...
Observers and dreamers

Observers and dreamers

We gave Tom Barbash the task of winnowing down his ten favourite short stories. “Impossible,” he countered, “but here are some great ones that came to mind.”   Alice Munro: ‘Chance’ A young woman on a cross-country train trip decides to decline polite conversation with an affable stranger. From this seemingly minor moment a series...
News from elsewhere

News from elsewhere

Here a list of books that are set in various locations in the developing world. It includes both fiction and non-fiction – and novels inspired by factual events. There is a heartbreaking true story from the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, and another written by British journalist and war correspondent Jon Swain, who was immortalised...
Let the reader in

Let the reader in

I only have one tip for writing that I feel strongly about, and that is to write something that allows space for the reader. The reader is a living, breathing presence in the novel – not a particular reader for whose tastes you must write, but a notional one: a mind that lives among your...
The Coalition Book

The Coalition Book

Since 2010, Martin Rowson has been documenting the weekly failings of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in the Guardian, the Morning Star, Tribune and many other newspapers and magazines. The Coalition Book collects his most brutally funny cartoons from a period that began with a promise of a ‘new politics’ and quickly descended into riots, phone-hacking,...
Elena Ferrante's shadow lives

Elena Ferrante’s shadow lives

Elena Ferrante writes beautifully. She writes honestly, powerfully, with directness and unflinching immediacy. In My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, the first two of her Neapolitan novels, she writes about a world which no longer belongs to what we might call our ‘reality’; the world of the fifties and sixties, of...
Balloon night

Balloon night

Timkin’s wife left him during a blisteringly cold Thanksgiving week, two nights before their annual Balloon Night party. There was no time for Timkin to call their guests and cancel; nor would he know where to call in many cases. It was the sort of event attended by people from all corners of their lives...