Join the gold rush with a weighty winner: literary fiction

This was the year of big books: two 800-page-busters on the Man Booker longlist alone had bookworms lifting weights. The winner, Eleanor Catton’s  The Luminaries (Granta, £18.99), is a good old-fashioned page-turner set in New Zealand during the 19th-century gold rush, but it was its narrative structure, mirroring astrological movements in a beautifully-wrought minuet, that really set it apart.

Yuletide truce: The unofficial 1914 ceasefire when British and German soldiers came out of their trenches to play football and sing carols

The frontline: in the home and abroad: best books for teens

In our final selection of Christmas books for children, we examine the best titles for teens

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Royal Opera House, London / Play Without Words, Sadler's Wells, London

The Royal Ballet director signs off with the most exciting new triple bill in memory, inspired by great works of art

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Royal Opera House, London

In an Olympic year full of artistic grand projects, The Royal Ballet ends its season with one of the grandest. Titian: Metamorphosis 2012 has seven choreographers, three composers, three designers, and the surprise is that this isn’t a case of too many cooks. It’s a coherent, stylish evening, with artists moving confidently into new areas.

Nijinska's 'Les Noces', closing Monica Mason's final triple bill for the Royal Ballet

Royal Ballet's Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London

The Royal Ballet's outgoing director leaves a surprisingly short – and white – company

The Dream/Song of the Earth Royal Opera House London   

Frederick Ashton’s The Dream and Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth are two of The Royal Ballet’s most-loved classics, making a terrific double bill.

Ivan Putrov, curator of Men in Motion at Sadler's Wells

A great leap forward for male dancers

The venerated ballerina had better watch her step – a new programme at Sadler's Wells shows that men could be about to steal the limelight for good

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House, London

Juliet is one of the most coveted roles at the Royal Ballet. Melissa Hamilton, a light, fleet soloist with a sweeping sense of movement, made a promising debut. She's still feeling her way into the drama of Kenneth MacMillan's ballet, with her most touching moments coming through the dancing. When Hamilton arches back over her Romeo's arm, her lavish backbend gives the moment eagerness and ardour.

Resolution! The Place, London

Hits, misses and chocolate kisses

Swan Lake, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Carlos Acosta: Premieres Plus, Coliseum, London

There's no touching the Mariinsky corps for uniformity, while principal Lopatkina demonstrates the art of maturing into a role

Carlos Acosta: I don't go out thinking, 'Here I come, the Cuban Sex Missile'

Classical ballet harms your body I used to do 40 to 50 shows a year and I've had plenty of body traumas and surgeries, but it's been worth it. Nothing compares to the feeling of being on stage and connecting with an audience.

A new arena for dance: Will 50,000 people flock to the O2 for Romeo and Juliet?

From tonight, the Royal Ballet will perform Romeo and Juliet at a huge rock arena in London. Wherefore? <b>Nicola Christie</b> speaks to Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo and the Royal Opera House's Tony Hall about their desire to make classical dance accessible to all.

Carlos Acosta, By Margaret Willis

Black Amber Inspirations is a new series of compact biographies of high achievers from black and other minority communities.

Giselle, Royal Opera House, London

Acosta is superb, but there's a new star snapping at his heels

Carlos Acosta, London Coliseum

Star power will get you only so far. Carlos Acosta's name, one of the biggest in ballet, is the selling point for this evening of new works and debut performances. You'd be better off seeing him in almost anything else.

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Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain