Boyd Tonkin

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.

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Imagine...

Imagine... it’s 2014 and the drums of war are beating again

We don't know what World War Three might look like, but here's my calculated guess...

Cults and loners: Murakami never stops warning his fans against the sham of charisma and the peril of conformity

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki - book review

Murakami returns with a harmonious blend of naivety and riddling sophistication

If Hadza nomads get by on 14 hours’ work a week, why can’t we?

You should cherish your hours of idleness even more keenly than usual this summer. For the work fetishists are on the warpath 

Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria

Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Writers George Orwell, Laurie Lee and John Cornford - along with 2,300 other British volunteers - took up arms in the Spanish Civil War. But Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has since made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"

Crowds in London celebrate the end of hostilities in 1918

A History of the First World War in 100 moments: After 1,560 days, at the eleventh hour, the guns fall silent – but for how long?

The conclusion of the ‘war to end all  wars’ was greeted with understandable jubilation. But, writes Boyd Tonkin, new storm clouds were already gathering

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud - book review: A moving testimony to dissidents fighting for democracy

Can finger-puppets strangle a bloodthirsty dictatorship? The dissident artists of the Masasit Mati group began to use the tiny caricatures who populate their satirical series Top Goon because they were easy to transport, and therefore to smuggle. An internet cult after the Syrian uprising started in earnest in 2011, with more than a million YouTube and Facebook hits, Top Goon mocked Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen in merciless Spitting Image style, with episodes such as "Who Wants to Kill a Million?" and "Skyping Putin".

The Golden Age of Dutch art has inspired writers from Marcel Proust to Donna Tartt

Just as Tracy Chevalier pilfered Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' and Proust purloined the artist's 'View of Delft', so Donna Tartt appropriated Fabritius's 'The Goldfinch' – set to be Booker-longlisted this week – as her inspiration. But what is it about the Golden Age of Dutch art that so enthrals novelists? Boyd Tonkin travels to the Mauritshuis museum, home to these three masterpieces and many more, to see for himself
Tilbury in Essex has been transformed into Grimsby in Sacha Baron Cohen's production

What did Grimsby do to deserve Sacha Baron Cohen?

The creative elite has allegedly turned with vicious malice on the very people whom their artistic forefathers used to hail as decent and dauntless

The Last Lover by Can Xue, trans. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, book review

While his wife Maria weaves intricate tapestries whose design feels like "dropping into an abyss", Joe manages the Rose Clothing Company in a Western nation known as "Country A".

Novelist David Mitchell has published a short story on Twitter

‘Cloud Atlas’ author David Mitchell unveils his latest story on Twitter

David Mitchell has taken to Twitter to publish a short piece of fiction in daily segments

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Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices