Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

Reporter Tom Peck with the Titan Arum

What a pong! After a seven year wait, the world's smelliest 'flower' blooms in Cornwall

The Titan Arum is made up of hundreds of flowers and opens four times in its lifetime

Floral swimming cap by The Flower Appreciation Society

iStyle: Flower Power

Forget mastering the perfect buttercream, the fashion for floral arrangements is blooming, says Naomi Attwood

Weekend work: Time to plant dahlias

What to do

Supporters of Imran Khan at a rally in Karachi yesterday

Thousands gather to hear Imran Khan’s hospital bed election address

PTI supporters hope a late surge can lift former cricketer to win Saturday’s vote

A celebrity painted gnome by singer Sir Elton John, prior to being unveiled as part of the RHS centenary celebrations at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London

Welcome gnome: Kitsch garden ornaments are now
allowed in to the Chelsea Flower Show

Elton John is championing their rise to the world’s most famous flowerbeds

Weekend Work: Time to sow leaf lettuce

What to do

Latitude 2013: Five minutes with... Don Paterson

Dundonian poet Don Paterson graces this year's Latitude with his odes.

The 10 Best wedding cakes

Forget love and happiness - these multi-tier marvels are reason enough to get hitched this summer.

Ukip town councillor Peter Reeve is a volunteer loo cleaner for Ramsey's public toilets

As the UK gears up for the polls, what is life like in Britain's only Ukip-controlled town?

And can it clean up in the county elections? We ask councillor Peter Reeve, who volunteered to clean loos to save money for Ramsey

Chic villas in Corfu

The Big Six: from clifftop locations to freshwater pools and rustic interiors

Feeling the heat in Kolkata

Although the temperatures are appetite-suppressing, Kolkata's food scene is legendary

Weekend work: Time to split autumn perennials

What to do

Paulo di Canio celebrates as his side defeat Everton

Sunderland 1 Everton 0 match report: Stephane Sessègnon strike brings reward for Paulo Di Canio’s battlers

Stephane Sessegnon's second goal in a week handed Paolo Di Canio victory in his first home game as Sunderland eased themselves further clear of relegation trouble.

The 10 Best gardens to visit

What could be finer – now that the weather has improved – than a walk around some bucolic beds and borders?

Clean break: The long, cold winter has made my garden tidier than ever

Yes, we know it's been a long, cold winter. And to be quite frank, we're bored of hearing about it. But has any good come of it, asks Emma Townshend?

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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence