Arts and Entertainment

A road trip that is as illuminating as it is incomplete made by a traveller, warrior, and jewelled stylist

Album: Miloš;The Guitar, (Deutsche Grammophon)

Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglic was a child prodigy who became a star of Yugoslavian TV and radio in his teens before studying at London's Royal Academy, where he received the Julian Bream Award from the celebrated guitar legend himself – a passing-on of the torch which bears its first fruit with this striking debut album.

Three debuts make the Orange Prize shortlist

Three first-time novelists tackling macabre subjects – the aftermath of conflict in the Balkans, a love affair in a mental institution, and the story of a hermaphrodite baby called Wayne – feature in this year's shortlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Leading article: Balkan talks are a quiet triumph for the EU

The European Union's ability to unite in pursuit of agreed foreign policy goals is often underrated in Britain, where failures are seized on and successes ignored or taken for granted. But the start this week in Brussels of the first face-to-face talks between Kosovo and Serbia is undoubtedly a triumph for EU "soft power". Neither side would normally wish to have anything to do with the other were it not for the EU's insistent diplomacy over the past few years. Quite simply, the shared desire of Serbs and Kosovar Albanians to join the European club overrides almost all other considerations – even those legendary Balkan hatreds.

Chris Cviic: Broadcaster and writer who became a leading expert on Yugoslavia and the Balkans

Chris Cviic was a writer and broadcaster who became a leading expert on the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans. Born in Croatia, the son of a businessman, he settled in Britain in 1954. His career took him to the BBC World Service, to St Antony's College, Oxford, to Chatham House and finally to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which promotes foreign investment and economic reform in former communist countries.

Europe's biker gangs set on a collision course with the police

In the middle of May this year, thousands of leather-clad bikers from across the Balkans gathered in the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod for a bash celebrating the unbridled joy that comes from tearing up the open road on a powerful two-wheeled hog.

The Accident, By Ismail Kadare, trans. John Hodgson

Ismail Kadare is a novelist of the grand manner who sees himself in a line from Shakespeare and Dante, and a modernist fabulist who by allegory and metaphor has nimbly laid bare the ironies and idiocies of recent Balkan experience. His belief that the best jokes are the old ones – cruelty, jealousy, selfishness, intolerance – place him in a long line of European satirists. Because of where he comes from, satire may flip into tragedy. "Everywhere in the world events flow noisily, while their deep currents pull silently," he writes in his new novel, "but nowhere is this contrast so striking as in the Balkans."

Album: Various artists, Balkan Fever London (Kazum / Grand Queen)

Sometimes UK-based global acts get a rough deal because what's on your doorstep somehow isn't "exotic" enough for the world-music purists.

Album: Moulettes, Moulettes (Balling the Jack)

Moulettes are an oddity even among the diverse ranks of the new folk boom, with the constant presence of Ruth Skipper's bassoon giving their sound a little of the flavour of 1970s early-music chamber-folkies Gryphon.

How the 'Borat of the Balkans' hit the big time

A YouTube video has turned a labourer into an unlikely hero uniting the former Yugoslavia

Spies of the Balkans, By Alan Furst

Alan Furst has done this century what Eric Ambler and John le Carré did in the last. He has achieved a complete reinvention of the Second World War spy novel as a vehicle for deeper insights into the human character, especially as it come under the pressure of accelerating history. Spies of the Balkans is the latest of his page-turners about the coming threat of Nazism and German occupation in the regions of Europe that were neither immediately conquered like France or Poland, nor which held out like Britain. The impact of the war on the Iberian peninsular, or on those central European countries like Switzerland, Hungary and Romania which tried to stay aloof from the conflict, remains little-known.

Album: Amira and Merima Kljuco, Zumra (World Village)

This album's roots lie deep in the Balkan tradition of sevdah, the urban folk music of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which touches on sadness, but is mostly about making love by moonlight.

Marko Prelec: This trial won't make anything better – but it must go ahead

Radovan Karadzic’s long and strange career – from Sarajevo psychiatrist to nationalist leader to breakaway president, honoured guest at international peace talks from Geneva to New York to the HMS Invincible, anchored in the Adriatic sea; from the International Criminal Tribunal’s first high-profile indictee, already in the summer of 1995, to fugitive from justice, to bushy-bearded new-age healer in the Belgrade suburbs – takes its last turn today as the ICTY prosecutor calls his first witnesses against him. This day has been long in coming.

Album: Balkan Beat Box, Blue Eyed Black Boy (Crammed Discs)

This New York trio have been producing deftly programmed global fusion for more than five years now, but it's on this third album that their songwriting skills finally measure up to their studio craft.

Tirana: A city struggling to reach year zero

Albania was declared a capitalist state in 1992, but its leading city still has a lot of catching up to do if it's to make it on to the European tourist's map.

Album: Portico Quartet, Isla (Real World)

Forget the ex-buskers' Mercury-nominated debut. With Isla, produced by John Leckie, Portico have found their mojo: a thrumming, intensely textured and dynamic sound flowing between sax, bass, drums and hang. (Looks like a wok, sounds like a steel drum.)

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee