Katy Guest

Katy Guest is the literary editor of the Independent on Sunday

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Review: Marriage Material By Sathnam Sanghera

The increasing liberalisation of British social rules and values may be good news for women and minorities, but it must make hard work for writers of contemporary fiction. It’s a nicer world in which we can all own property and marry whom we like, but it removes much of the obvious drama from modern life and leaves all the best stories in history. Where would Romeo and Juliet have been if he could have just sent a text message? Or Pride and Prejudice if Lizzie Bennet had gone off to work in the City? Or The Old Wives’ Tale if the Baines sisters had grown up in late-20th-century Wolverhampton?

Morrisey, right, signing an autograph on one of his fan's arms

There's a Morrissey and a Ruby Tandoh in every UK office

Have you noticed in your workplace a bloke who spends all his time swaggering around loudly broadcasting how brilliant he is?

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, By Helen Fielding

There’s a bit in the middle of Mad About the Boy when the agent for Bridget’s screenplay – a modern interpretation of Hedda Gabler set in Queen’s Park – sends her a strange email. “We have a couple of responses on your script,” he writes. “They are passing. The themes are fascinating but they’re wanting more of a romcom feel. I’ll keep trying.” It could be a coincidence, but by this point it reads like a coded SOS from the author. The book is at its best when it is a poignant comic novel about a 51-year-old woman struggling to bring up children after the sudden death of her husband. It is hit-and-miss when it’s about a 51-year-old Bridget Jones who struggles with all the TV remotes and counts nits instead of Chardonnays. But on occasion it becomes a parody of a Richard Curtis film, or even worse an American sitcom, and that of course is v v bad.

Fielding: Fondly lampoons pretentiousness

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding - Review

There’s a bit in the middle of Mad About the Boy when the agent for Bridget’s screenplay – a modern interpretation of Hedda Gabler set in Queen’s Park – sends her a strange email. “We have a couple of responses on your script,” he writes. “They are passing. The themes are fascinating but they’re wanting more of a romcom feel. I’ll keep trying.” It could be a coincidence, but by this point it reads like a coded SOS from the author. The book is at its best when it is a poignant comic novel about a 51-year-old woman struggling to bring up children after the sudden death of her husband. It is hit-and-miss when it’s about a 51-year-old Bridget Jones who struggles with all the TV remotes and counts nits instead of Chardonnays. But on occasion it becomes a parody of a Richard Curtis film, or even worse an American sitcom, and that of course is v v bad.

It's OK to be Gay: the book is a collection of inspirational stories from well-known figures including entertainers, journalists, a Paralympian and a peer of the realm

Shelley Silas and Evan Davis share their coming out experiences

Extended extracts of the writer and TV presenter's 'coming out' stories from a new book launched in support of Diversity Role Models

Why do I think these uncomfortable thoughts?

I was thinking a lot this summer about armpits. You do, if you're a feminist. Because generally women shave their armpits and generally men don't; armpit hair becomes a feminist issue. But, if it's anti-feminist to shave your body, does that mean that all empowered men should wear beards? Or are we just obliged out of politeness to depilate the bits that other people see? It would seem a bit weird if a hairy man could not go sleeveless to the office, and yet women are apparently allowed to feel the summer breeze around their vest tops. What if men shaved and wore something strappy? What would happen if we all just wore the most comfortable thing we could find to do our jobs? Are comfy T-shirts just one step away from chaos? Do I think too much about armpits?

Val McDermid has written best-selling crime novels

The Pink List 2013: Val McDermid, Nigel Owens and Charlie Condou share their coming out stories

Funny, moving and inspiring, the reminiscences of gay people are collected in a new book which, says Katy Guest, can change lives

Mix hip hop with Shakespeare? Why ever not?

Thank goodness one brave speaker at the Tory conference had the guts to stand up and identify something in today's society that is "positively evil" and a blight on inner-city kids. What was it? The bedroom tax? Cuts to benefits? George Osborne's new hairstyle? Oh no. Setting Shakespeare to a hip-hop beat is the dangerous affront to Britain's youth, according to Lindsay Johns, an incredibly smart and passionate youth mentor and writer who nonetheless manages to give the impression of being created by Michael Gove out of a 3D printer and a stick-on beard.

Nicola Adams topped the list last year

Who’ll top the IoS Pink List this year? That’s up to you

Katy Guest opens search for UK’s influential gay, bisexual and transgender people

Smokers, what's hard is seeing a loved one die early

If aliens were secretly watching the Earth, there are many things that would puzzle them about the behaviour of humans: commuting; quinoa; stilettos; Miley Cyrus …. But surely the most bizarre and illogical thing we do is smoking tobacco. If you've never seen it, look up the 1970s Bob Newhart sketch in which a 16th-century British government official talks to an excitable Walter Raleigh: "You can shred the leaves … put it in a little piece of paper … OK Walt, and then what do you do with it? Ha ha ha... you set fire to it, Walt?" I still find smoking just as baffling.

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Day In a Page

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British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album