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.

Novelist Jim Crace who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker for Harvest

Man Booker Prize 2013 shortlist announced: Jim Crace leads the six authors with his swan song Harvest

The shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize has been announced with Jim Crace already being touted as the "marginal favourite" to take the top literary prize.

Hopefully Tomlinson will do better than during his last match

One Direction star Louis Tomlinson to don number 28 shirt in Doncaster Rovers debut

Pop star Louis Tomlinson is to fulfil a lifelong dream this month when he plays for Doncaster Rovers.

Tributes to cyclist after road death

Garry Hobson, 68, died on arrival at hospital after being struck by a car

Inside the Big Brother house 2013

Please go to the Diary Room...National Trust to open Big Brother house to the public

If you’d like enter the Diary Room, bounce on the overstuffed furniture and marvel at the close confines of a reality TV experiment that has last over a decade, now might be your chance as the National Trust is set to open the Big Brother House to the public for one weekend later this month.

Missing: my darling Jacqui... the search for a lost tulip

I found the most perfect tulip, says Emma Townshend.  She’s playful and charming and perked me right up – but now I can’t find her anywhere. Somebody help me!

I Take You, by Nikki Gemmell. Fourth Estate, £7.99

In a previous novel, The Bride Stripped Bare, Gemmell  boldly gave voice to things women think but never say, especially to lovers.

One minute with: Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian and novelist

Where are you now and what can you see?

Anna Pavord's A to Z of pests and problems: P is for passageways, pests and pruning

Our green-fingered correspondent Anna Pavord continues her A-Z of horticultural pests and problems standing between you and your perfect garden

the classified document outlines a highly-sensitive inquiry into the claims that the elderly Nazi was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets

Adolf Hitler's Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess ‘murdered by British agents’ to stop him spilling wartime secrets

Surgeon claims Hess was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets

Dale Cregan is set to die in prison with a whole life sentence for murdering four people

Dale Cregan admitted to maximum-security Ashworth Hospital

Cregan, serving four life sentences, joins Moors Murderer Ian Brady at the mental hospital

Global treaties aimed at preserving threatened wildlife have failed to identify the regions of the world with the highest proportion of endemic species that are not found anywhere else

Protected nature areas are 'focusing on places without as many endangered species'

Scientists warn the wrong kind of land is currently being protected as national parks and other types of national wildlife zones

Referee Wayne Barnes will take a zero-tolerance approach

Wayne Barnes warns referees will employ hard line over new scrum laws

Top official insists players must 'buy in' to changes and claims they are here to stay

Record numbers of “jobless” wasps are more likely to attack us because they are drunk and aggressive, the British Red Cross has warned

Drunk wasps may attack us, warns Red Cross

First aid experts advise anyone eating outside to beware stings and keep a credit card to hand

Postcard from... Galicia

Pub group Greene King poised to toast heatwave

It is always one of the most convivial AGMs of the year. The army of loyal small shareholders who will turn up to Newbury Racecourse for brewer and pub group Greene King’s annual general meeting tomorrow will be looking for upbeat trading news to be followed by a slap-up luncheon.

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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
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness