Boyd Tonkin

Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.

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Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health, and could help influence the election

Breve encounter: Philip Glass at work

Words Without Music by Philip Glass, book review: Songs in the key of modern life

The one-time taxi driver's journey to becoming the genius who composed the soundtrack to our times is well worth the fare, says Boyd Tonkin
Written in stone: a marble relief showing the procession of the Panathenaic festival birthday of the goddess Athena (438-432BC)

How the Greeks invented the modern idea of us as human beings

On TV, in museums, on the stage – Hellenic culture is all the rage because it still speaks to us, says Boyd Tonkin. And far from being exclusive or historical, it lies at the heart of modern Western values, showing to us 'our best selves'

The Heart of Man by Jon Kalman Stefansson - book review: Words from a remote island for a universal audience

Beautifully translated by Philip Roughton, Stefansson's immersive prose swells, thunders and sparkles with all the shifting moods of the sea on an Icelandic summer's day

Genetic geography is playing merry havoc with ancient beliefs

There are now variety of eye-catching yarns about the peopling of these islands since the Ice Age ended

A story of cliffhangers, plot twists and coincidences: Mario Vargas Llosa

The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa, book review: Between ancient and modern

The Peruvian Nobel laureate combines soap opera with an eye for social and supernatural drama

Ageing, middle-class, right-wing: Meet our new lords of misrule

Progressive politics in Britain has now completely lost its sense of joy, and it leaves me hankering for a good old-fashioned moral panic stirred up by untamed youth

Timur Vermes – the Sacha Baron Cohen of German literature

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: Some tales are truly found in translation

The prize can often signpost change in the literary balance of power

Macfarlane in the Cherry Hinton chalk pits, which yielded the stone for some of the Cambridge colleges

Robert Macfarlane interview: A linguistic wander through Britain's wild landscapes

The bestselling writer Robert Macfarlane has a message for the Nimbys who would preserve heritage views at all costs: relax, get into the fields and cherish the extraordinary language of landscape instead

The centenarian age is upon us. History will now live for ever

For all the strain they place on budgets for health and social care, could we treat the expanding regiment of old-old-timers not as a burden but a blessing?

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Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor