Books

Books of the Year II — chosen by our regular reviewers

14 November 2020 9:00 am

David Crane If nothing else, this has been a good time for catch-up. Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest (translated by Walter…

Born comics die laughing

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Evolutionary theory is primarily about survival but, as Jonathan Silvertown makes clear in this intriguing book,  as well as having…

A love story — with clothes as heroes

7 November 2020 9:00 am

On the weekly ‘opinions’ afternoons, the public would arrive with carefully wrapped parcels holding items to be identified, writes Claire…

The ruthless politics of Pakistan — and the curse of being a Bhutto

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Hours after Benazir Bhutto arrived back in Pakistan on 18 October 2007, two bombs exploded near the bullet-proof truck carrying…

Lionel Barber leaves the pink ’un in the pink

7 November 2020 9:00 am

As Lionel Barber recounts unrolling his pitch to replace me as editor of the Financial Times to the newspaper’s proprietor…

A literary scoop: the passionate correspondence between R.L. Stevenson and J.M. Barrie

7 November 2020 9:00 am

This book has appeared with no fuss or fanfare and yet by any account it is something of a scoop.…

Sybille Bedford — a gifted writer but a monstrous snob

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Sybille Bedford died in 2006, just short of 95. She left four novels, a travel book, two volumes of legal…

Gift books for Christmas — reviewed by Marcus Berkmann

7 November 2020 9:00 am

We have a fine crop of Christmas gift books this year, so good that some of them actually qualify as…

Where time stands still: a Himalayan pilgrimage

7 November 2020 9:00 am

The region of Dolpo in Nepal forms part of a border zone between that country and China in the central…

Comforting brown food from the Domestic Goddess

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Nigella Lawson is many things to many people: the perfect hostess, the TV star, the thinking man’s crumpet. To me…

A 13th-century guide to fraud and skulduggery

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Eight centuries ago in Turkey, at a gathering of intellectuals, a Muslim sultan insisted that one of his courtiers write…

Short and sweet: Xstabeth, by David Keenan, reviewed

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Aneliya, the Russian narrator of David Keenan’s enjoyably weird new novel, is worried about her dad. Tomasz’s modest music career…

Books of the year, chosen by our regular reviewers

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Reviewers choose the books they have most enjoyed in 2020 – and a few that have disappointed them

Wistful thinking: Mr Wilder & Me, by Jonathan Coe, reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Mr Wilder & Me is not in any way a state- of-the-nation novel — and thank goodness. Brilliant as Jonathan…

Demystifying the world of espionage

31 October 2020 9:00 am

John le Carré once wrote sadly that he felt ‘shifty’ about his contribution to the glamorisation of the spying business.…

London’s 598 railways stations have made the capital what it is

31 October 2020 9:00 am

I began this book waiting for a diesel train to Derby, under the windy, boxy, flat-roofed bit which one of…

Too much sound and fury in Christopher Nolan’s movies

31 October 2020 9:00 am

In 2006 the director Christopher Nolan filmed an adaptation of one of my novels, written a decade and a half…

Lambs to the slaughter: the fiasco of the Dieppe Raid, August 1942

31 October 2020 9:00 am

In carefree days which now seem so distant we used occasionally to take the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry. Docking after a long…

Kicking up a stink: Dead Fingers Talk, by William S. Burroughs, reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

William Burroughs was introduced to a British readership in November 1963, and the welcome he received was ‘UGH…’ The headline…

The humble biscuit has a noble history

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Prue Leith traces the biscuit’s surprisingly colourful history

Aunt Munca’s murky past

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Kiss Myself Goodbye. It sounds a bit like a William Boyd novel. It looks likea William Boyd novel, too: the…

Tom Bower pulls his punches with his life of Boris Johnson

24 October 2020 9:00 am

The Prime Minister may have lost his bounce –but perhaps that’s no bad thing, says Lynn Barber

The gospel of separation according to Malcolm X

24 October 2020 9:00 am

In late April 1962 Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed black man, Ronald X Stokes, during a disturbance…

Sarah Maslin Nir enjoys the rides of a lifetime

24 October 2020 9:00 am

The appeal of a book called Horse Crazy risks being limited to those who are. Yet many moments in Sarah…

The scholars who solved the riddles in the sands

24 October 2020 9:00 am

In 1835 the first two Egyptian antiquities were registered in the British Museum: a pair of red granite lions from…