Earlier this year, a terminally ill cancer patient requested a last visit to the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum to see a Rembrandt exhibition. A striking image accompanied the news story, of the patient on a gurney, surrounded by staff, face turned towards one of Rembrandt’s final self-portraits, the colour and shade in the photograph reflecting something of the light falling across Rembrandt’s aged face in the painting, and the edges of darkness converging behind him.
What is cocaine? It is, for one, an addictive drug usually derived from coca, a tropical American plant. It is also, says Roberto Saviano, what our world is made of.
Did you lock the back door this morning? Are you replaying that conversation with your boss on endless loop? Is the prospect of booking a summer holiday terrifying? In his new book, Francis O'Gorman, literary critic and professor of English, offers a witty, philosophical meditation on the meaning of worry, where it comes from and how it came to be our constant companion.
"But what does India have to do with this? The Europeans have always been at each other's throats. What difference does it make to us? We're slaves still and always will be..." So the female protagonist of Ismat Chughtai's Urdu novel The Crooked Line responds to news of the invasion of Poland in 1939. Published in 1945, when memories of the war were still raw, the novel records the voices and feelings of the period's liberal intelligentsia.
Butterfly collectors have often been seen as the 'creepy janitor' figures of the natural history world, eccentric loners whose compulsive capturing and cataloguing is a shorthand for psychopathy. Frederick Clegg in John Fowles' The Collector, J in Jose Manuel Prieto's Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire, Ben Parkinson in Carla Lane's Butterflies, the nameless groupie in Paul Weller's song The Butterfly Collector: these are but a few examples from a modern era which, if anything, has been kinder to lepidopterists. Back in the early 19th century, they were so ridiculed that guidebooks warned them to expect jeers should they venture out with their nets in public.
An online campaign launched yesterday to stress that there is more to British fiction than the Grey phenomenon has received millions of shares in support.
There is an old Brussels joke. How do you tell the difference between a British official and a French one? The Briton says: "This idea works fine in theory but will it work in practice?" The Frenchman says: "This idea works fine in practice but will it work in theory?"
These are difficult times for Jews. Not only, or even especially, for them, of course. It's not a good time to be an Iraqi Christian or a Yazidi in Syria either. But, shade in the areas on a map of the world where simply looking like a Jew is a high or growing risk, and the area is expanding. Parts of some European cities have become danger zones in the space of only a few years. As for most of the Middle East, forget it. It seems incredible now that Baghdad was once home to 140,000 Jews.
War and romance with an epic sweep is what people expect of Louis de Bernières. It is not, of course, all that he has written but it is what he is most famous for, particularly in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, now marking its 21st birthday, and in his last major novel, Bird Without Wings, of 2004.
If a writer pumps up the volume of a book's ideas or impending events from the very first sentence there's a risk of a subsequent literary burst tyre.
The title story of Jonathan Lethem's intriguing new collection of short fiction is the bizarrely touching story of an unlikely friendship.
A remarkable and important graphic novel, Munnu offers an alternative history of Indian administered Kashmir, specifically Srinagar, drawing on the author's life to tell the story of Munnu as he grows up to become Sajad.
Accepting The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last month, Jenny Erpenbeck made a thoughtful observation when she said that the English translation of her winning novel, The End of Days, is her book but her translator's words.
Last week, I found myself on a privately owned Greek island with no shops, wi-fi, radio or television. Sprawled day after day on a swinging bed under a giant oak tree, I discovered that the book you take to such a remote place (a permanent population of three people, limited electricity, 2,500 olive trees, a yoga shala, some loud owls and a resident dog) is your connection to the less scenic world you’ve left behind.
What to read on your recliner this summer? While we await the biggest event publication of the year with Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, in mid-July, along with the controversy it will inevitably ignite, we might refresh our memories of Scout and Atticus with the recently reissued sequel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Or that other big summer excitement, The Girl in a Spider’s Web, the fourth instalment in the Millennium series (though of course not by Stieg Larsson), in August.
Roberto Saviano interview: 'Gomorrah' author on how writing a mould-breaking book on organised crime cost him his freedom
Gomorrah changed everything for the Italian journalist, for good and bad
Grey’s anthropomorphic penis is the star of the show and surely deserves the next point-of-view volume
The Sex and the City author says people 'want to revisit those characters'
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
The Crystal Maze: Richard O’Brien confirmed to return as more details revealed about show's rebooted format
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture