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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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

Is tackling child abuse in the courts the best solution?

The "moral entrepreneurs" who cash in on child abuse

Instead of listening to manipulative zealots, we need an inquiry into how we can make sure children are kept safe

Rich web of reminiscence: Erwin Mortier

While The Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier; Trans. Paul Vincent, book review

Redemption of war-torn memories

Boyd Tonkin becomes a Google Glass ‘explorer’ with his Glass guide Alice Cabon and tries out the wearable computer in London

Google Glass is here, but the view is more invalid than cyborg...

For £1,000, you can now sport the technology that promises to transform our lives, or destroy personal privacy, depending on your lookout

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Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral