Review of 2012: Books
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Saturday 22 December 2012
Tubes by Andrew Blum
No book this year told us more about how modern life really works than Blum's global tour “behind the scenes at the internet”. From cable-layers to data farms, from Docklands to Oregon, this unique travelogue exposed the physical infrastructure behind our digital world.
Pure by Timothy Mo
British fiction's prodigal son, Mo still writes with terrific verve and panache. With trademark chutzpah, he made a Bangkok ladyboy-turned-Islamist militant the irresistible heroine of this spectacular romp through questions of flesh and faith in Thailand and Indonesia.
Country Girl by Edna O'Brien
From the grande dame of Irish letters came a classic autobiography. Not just a scintillating record of a life rich in scandal and stardust, her memoirs tracked a changing Ireland, conjured an amazing cast of A-list friends, and let readers share the joys – and burdens – of a literary vocation.
Dominion by CJ Sansom
Popular blockbusters don't get smarter or richer than this. Sansom, doyen of the Tudor mystery, here re-booted the “alternative history” genre with a superb dystopia-cum-thriller set in the defeated Britain of 1952: Nazism victorious abroad, and smogbound semi-fascism at home.
A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard
The first volume of the Norwegian writer's grandly titled novel sequence, “My Struggle”, proved a revelation. Using the everyday material of family tension and dysfunction, Knausgaard out-Franzens Franzen in a virtuoso chronicle of youth – ruthless, hilarious, unbearably well-observed.
Discovery of the year: Spitalfields Life by The Gentle Author
The anonymous Author began blogging about his – or her – East End neighbours in 2009. Now a beautifully designed book, these portraits of Londoners old and new build into the Olympic year's finest book about the capital: wry, respectful, fabulously diverse and utterly charming.
Turkey of the year: Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Talk about the Terminator. Pompous, musclebound, grindingly dull, the super-heavyweight memoirs of the hunk-turned-governor forgot that the Arnie we love is a camp self-parodist. Instead, the official version plods on from Austria to LA with skin-crawling smugness.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader