Books

Oh! Calcutta! Amartya Sen’s childhood memories brim with nostalgia

10 July 2021 9:00 am

From Bengali schoolboy to citizen of the world – Amartya Sen’s autobiography is a joy, says Philip Hensher

Australian art in the Roaring Twenties

3 July 2021 9:00 am

The only criticism that can be levelled at For the Fallen by Paul Paffen is that it lacks the hard…

Not so dryasdust: how 18th-century antiquarians proved the first ‘modern’ historians

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Antiquaries have had a bad press. If mentioned at all today, they are often derided as reclusive pedants poring over…

Leni Riefenstahl is missing: The Dictator’s Muse, by Nigel Farndale, reviewed

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Leni Riefenstahl was a film-maker of genius whose name is everlastingly associated with her film about the German chancellor, Triumph…

A lesson in understanding serial killers and child molesters

3 July 2021 9:00 am

True crime is having a moment: every day there’s a new documentary, book, podcast, or blockbuster film announced, detailing the…

Return to LA Confidential: Widespread Panic, by James Ellroy, reviewed

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Even by James Ellroy’s standards, the narrator of his latest novel is not a man much given to the quiet…

The strangest landscapes are close to home

3 July 2021 9:00 am

This pleasant volume, the author announces in the introduction, is ‘not a nature book, or even a travel book, so…

Sweet and sour: Barcelona Dreaming, by Rupert Thomson, reviewed

3 July 2021 9:00 am

I’ve never been to Barcelona, but Rupert Thomson makes it feel like an old friend. The hot, airless nights and…

We’ve embraced William Blake without having any idea of what he was on about

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Whose were those feet in ancient time that walked upon England’s mountains green? That William Blake assumed his readers were…

The short, unhappy life of Ivor Gurney — wounded, gassed and driven insane

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Andrew Motion describes the inner turmoil of the neglected poet Ivor Gurney

A load of oddballs: the eccentricities of past cricketing heroes

3 July 2021 9:00 am

For reasons I can’t seem to remember, I have read an awful lot of cricketing histories. The dullest, by a…

Journey to the end of the world: the full horror of the Belgica’s Antarctic expedition

3 July 2021 9:00 am

The epic story of the Antarctic voyage of the Belgica (1897-9) has all the ingredients of a truly glorious misadventure:…

Justice betrayed

26 June 2021 9:00 am

It was always an inherently implausible accusation: that Australia’s most senior Catholic prelate had sexually assaulted choir boys after Mass…

In search of Great-Aunt Pearl’s will: a black comedy of familial strife

26 June 2021 9:00 am

Lendal Press has found a brilliant novelist in Matt Cook: funny, shrewd, satirical, disturbingly and entertainingly analytical in his psychology…

Blood on the tracks: the unsolved murder of the Japanese railway chief

26 June 2021 9:00 am

‘There is no end to influence,’ says Harold Bloom in his seminal 1973 work, The Anxiety of Influence — and…

Singing to the gods: a millennium’s span of ancient Greek hymns, gloriously portrayed

26 June 2021 9:00 am

We are experiencing a boom of popular books on Greek mythology: Stephen Fry’s Mythos; Natalie Haynes’s Pandora’s Jar; Liv Albert’s…

The sexploits of Mariella Novotny

26 June 2021 9:00 am

Orgies! Gangsters! Drugs! Spies! Scandals! This biography promises much but I’m not sure it actually delivers, or not in any…

Doctor Butcher: crank, genius or son of Frankenstein?

26 June 2021 9:00 am

I hated reading this book. Not only was it objectively upsetting, as any book describing monkey vivisection would be (I…

A tender portrait of Leonora Carrington, painter, writer — and a mother who was not always there

26 June 2021 9:00 am

Ever since Leonora Carrington, the last of the Surrealists, died in 2011, having made it to her 94th year with…

How William Hogarth made Britain

26 June 2021 9:00 am

A new biography of William Hogarth pays dutiful homage to his satirical genius but does not challenge its predecessors, writes Philip Hensher

Pure, white and native: the birch as a symbol of Russian nationalism

19 June 2021 9:00 am

The image of the birch tree in popular Russian culture is as manifold as the trees themselves, but we could…

A hymn to the hummingbird — one of the most astonishing organisms on Earth

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Along with coral reefs and their fish, tropical butterflies and birds of paradise, hummingbirds must be among the most beautiful…

O father, where art thou? Fox Fires, by Wyl Menmuir, reviewed

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Wyl Menmuir’s first novel, The Many, was a surprise inclusion on the 2016 Booker Prize longlist. It drew praise for…

Secret treaties and games of cat and mouse: a choice of recent crime fiction

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Almost any promising writer of spy fiction can expect at some point to be called the ‘next Le Carré’, an…

Snakes alive! Playing cricket in Latin America

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Cricket in Latin America sounds like an oxymoron. Yet in almost every country in the region willow was hitting leather…