PAPERBACKS

!Various Miracles by Carol Shields, 4th Estate pounds 6.99. Carol Shields, like many who have reached the welcome but guilt-edged plateau of middle age, is beset by questions like Where Are We? and How Have We Got Here? As a result, her stories exhibit a rewarding creative tension between existential wobble and verbal poise. They observe Americans abroad, at home or in transit, becoming insecure and insignificant as they learn about competing cultures and points of view. The best tales have a sense of wonder at the "various miracles" of everyday experience which, in a young writer, might seem like gropings towards mysticism. Shields makes them seem entirely natural and, indeed, inevitable.

!The Coming Plague: Newly Emerged Diseases in a World out of Balance by Laurie Garrett, Penguin pounds 12.50. You microbes will want this book: it's a great morale-booster for your war against people. For a while we thought you were on the run, what with Salk's mass vaccinations making a turncoat of the polio virus and penicillin taking no prisoners on the TB front. But, as Garrett demonstrates, you're now fighting back hard, mutating faster than we can research. Ebola, Lassa, Legionnaire's Disease and HIV are new scourges, but equally hard-hitting are the revivals such as malaria, measles, whooping cough and pneumonia. In 1952 almost all staphylococcus infections were killed by penicillin. Thirty years later it could only touch a tenth of them, and will soon be completely useless, like all presently existing antibiotics. Wake up, young scientists! Microbiology needs YOU!

!The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk, trs Guneli Gun, Faber pounds 6.99. Like Joyce in Ulysses, Pamuk grafts a state-of-my-nation novel onto a loving, semi- ironic portrait of his native city: the cultural schizophrenia of Turkey, enlarged and inverted in the monstrous, sooty magnifying-glass of Istanbul life. Following the disappearance of his wife Ruya, Galip (Pamuk's protagonist) finds that Ruya's brother Jelal, a well-known columnist, has also gone missing. As he searches for clues, he is forced to confront the way his own identity has started to fuse with that of his fugitive brother-in- law. This ambitious novel, playful yet serious, is marvellously evocative, in spite of an occasionally stuttering translation.

!Lost in Music: A Pop Odyssey by Giles Smith, Picador pounds 5.99. Giles Smith's first pop hero was Marc Bolan. Well, as Freud would say, we all harbour shameful secrets, though many of us have the decency to tuck them away in the Unconscious. The bad luck of experiencing pop music during the early Seventies is exposed in the sorry admission: "I have spent more time listening to Whitney Houston than to Bob Dylan." There you have it: a troubled individual who spills his confessions with commendable honesty and insight. The rags-to-rags story of Smith's band Cleaners From Venus is particularly tragic but, if a Cleaners album should happen to have snuck into your collection, hang onto it: this classic case-history could make it a desirable little item one day.

!Prince Rupert: Portrait of a Soldier by Frank Kitson, Constable pounds 10.95. Prince Rupert appears in our national legend as a dashing commander of cavalry in set-piece battles such as Edgehill (which he won) and Marston Moor and Naseby (which he lost). General Kitson made his name as a theoretician of counter-insurgency and "low-intensity operations". Perhaps the attraction of Rupert for Kitson is the fact that, in the 17th century, all war was low-intensity. The forces Rupert commanded were rarely more than a few thousand strong, enabling him to play to his strengths: decision, courage and great tactical intelligence. This first of a projected two-volume study follows Rupert's early career as a soldier up to the end of the Civil War, showing him to be a remarkable all-rounder, particularly skilful in siege warfare.

!The Giraffe by Marie Nimier, trs Mary Feeney, Headline pounds 5.99. Joseph goes to work at Vincennes Zoo in Paris and falls in love with Solange, a giraffe. But before you say "Ahhh", this is no cuddly little Gerry Durrell tale. Joseph is a major-league psychopath who becomes so fixated on the giraffe that when he sees her covered by Beethoven, a male of her own species, he kills the love object in a fit of jealous disgust. And once he's committed girafficide, homicide is but a small step. This is fiction at its sickest, and I mean that as a compliment: it is horrifying and at times very funny.

!This Side of Peace: A Personal Account by Hanan Ashrawi, Pocket Books pounds 7.99. Ashrawi is the English literature professor who during the 1993- 4 peace process became the most recognisable and (to Israelis perhaps) the most acceptable public face of Palestinian nationalism. She is a Christian; her mother used to send American missionaries away by reminding them briskly: "We know Christianity. Jesus was born here, right next door." When her birthplace was occupied by Israel after the Six-Day War, nationalism became for Ashrawi a personal issue and her involvement in the peace talks make this book an important item of primary historical evidence. Despite the couture and media-friendly image, the fact that she refused a seat on Arafat's National Council marks Ashrawi as a maverick and relative hard- liner.

Blame it on Confucius: his doctrine of the malleability of man led to a programme of mass cultural indoctrination in China aimed to foster beneficial social attitudes with positive images. Chinese Propaganda Posters by Stefan Landsberger (Pepin Press pounds 30) focuses on the Eighties, when Western influences began to edge out the previous scenes of agrarian bliss. Healthy tots, beaming teens and happy elders abound, and the pious titles are priceless: "Serve customers in a cultured, civilised and enthusiastic manner"; "Respect social morality"; "Pay attention to boarding trains in a civilised way" and (left) "Party, Oh Party, Beloved Party"

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness