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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Rosetta's lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Like all good space films, ‘Rosetta’ has us hooked

Annually, the agency’s operations cost “about the same as the price of a cinema ticket” for each citizen of the 20 participating nations

Visitors view the

Tower of London poppies: Yes, we remember. But we also choose to forget

We identify with all the innocents who died – and them alone

Three segments of the Berlin Wall and a figure of a bear, symbolic of Berlin, in Seoul

Back to a time before the fall: German fiction

A mere quarter-century ago, the Berlin Wall opened. Soon after, the Soviet empire fell. Yet much of that cataclysmic history has already faded into kitsch and platitude. Happily, literature can resurrect a reality beyond the scope of official commemorations. Three novels from authors who grew up in the lost world of East Germany - all brought to us in outstanding translations - anchor that obliterated landscape to intimate memories, beliefs and emotions. Fiction can dig the tunnel that takes us under the Wall and back through time.

Politicians’ actions speak louder then words on a 'feminist' T-shirt

But who now cares if you walk the walk, so long as you talk the talk?

Police from both sides stand idly by as the Berlin Wall is breached for the first time between East and West, at the Sandkrug Bridge crossing-point on Invaliden Strasse, in November 1989

Fall of the Berlin Wall: 25 years on, we remember the day the world fell apart

Twenty-five years ago next month, the man-made geographical feature that had defined post-war Europe vanished with dizzying abruptness. Introducing a week-long celebration of a still barely credible political earthquake, Boyd Tonkin reports from Berlin

If Renee Zellweger wants to look different, who are we to question it?

The human face is a mystery we try to unravel at our peril

Vivid Faces by RF Foster - book review: First-class account of when Ireland went to war

The Easter Rising of 1916 began in Dublin’s General Post Office. No wonder, perhaps, given that so many of the insurgents had pursued civil-service careers in what Roy Foster calls “the imperial structure of the Royal Mail”. Even Richard Mulcahy – later IRA Chief of Staff and Defence Minister of the Irish Free State – had worked as a postal clerk. Where better than the GPO to sign, seal and deliver Ireland’s liberation?

Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation carry the body of a person killed

Medicine is no match for centuries of fear of the foreign plague

The sudden reversal of policy, which now favours interrogation of West African arrivals, owes more to Dracula-at-Whitby fears than to solid proof

French writer Patrick Modiano is the author of almost 30 books since his debut novel in 1968

Nobel Prize: French novelist Patrick Modiano receives honour for Literature

When his editor Antoine Gallimard called to tell him the news, he replied 'how bizarre', according to Le Monde newspaper

a farmer harvesting cocaine leaves in la Machaca, Colombia

Stephen Fry is wrong about being the only person harmed by his cocaine habit — just look at Colombia

Cocaine-driven conflict in the country has cost 220,000 lives and displaced about 4.5m people from their homes

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Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
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