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The Independent Culture
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton, Doubleday £14.99. A chilling courtroom drama, threaded with a sense of farmers waiting for the cows to come home. Review by Natasha Walter, 7 January.

William Morris: A Life by Fiona MacCarthy, Faber £25. Engaging portrait of the great designer and social thinker. Review by Claire Tomalin, 3 December

Shaka's Children by Stephen Taylor, HarperCollins £18. An impressive history of the Zulu nation, which takes a cool, humane look at a story full of both grandeur and savagery. Review by Jan Morris, 7 January

Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson, Andr Deutsch £25. Passionate, idiosyncratic, and far more than a mere reference book. Review by Anthony Quinn, 7 January

The Prince of West End Avenue by Alan Isler, Jonathan Cape £9.99. An intricate tragi-comedy in which the residents of a Manhattan retirement home grapple with Hamlet. Review by Hugo Barnacle, 28 January

Journals 1982-1986 by Anthony Powell, Heinemann £20. Engaging set of jottings that describe an archetypal life in English letters. Review by Godfrey Hodgson, 28 January.

Christina Stead: A Biography by Hazel Rowley, Secker £12.99. A fine account of a complex writer, full of the smells of old Australia. Review by Doris Lessing, 4 February.