In the fourth part of our series marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Antony Sher celebrates a pair of extraordinarily rich history plays
Midway through John le Carré’s The Night Manager (1993), the British intelligence services stage a mock kidnapping as a training exercise, building a fake restaurant staffed with actors and hiring a couple of professional New York gangsters to play the toughs.
The Brilliant & Forever is a weird, original and moving book about a literary festival on an unnamed Scottish island where everyone is an aspiring writer, including the talking alpacas
One of the few things we know about Martin is that his heart was broken by his “Slavic goddess” ex-girlfriend
These books' exploration of politics, history, and the human condition are so insightful, they've withstood the test of time
Thus Bad Begins is an intimate book, based in a single Madrid apartment
In much speculative fiction the story, the concept, tends to squeeze out humanity, character, nuance
Seven decades after the end of the Third Reich, it fascinates and appals in equal measure.
His diaries show laments over the lost spirit of the season pre-date television by, well, about 350 years
Plus, don't miss out on the best of festive television - it's called 'Boxing Day' for a reason
Send your teen to Venice this Christmas
Murphy's 'Cowboys and Indies' is a racy history of the record biz runs from 1853 to 2014
Elaine Feinstein celebrates the writers and translators she has known in her latest collection Portraits (Carcanet £9.99). The bulk of the poems are elegies: “April Fool’s Day” for the First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg, referencing the “cosmopolitan rat” of his best-known poem, “Break of Day in the Trenches”.
I’ve long been a big fan of Steven Pinker. His book The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best and most interesting book I read in 2011. In 2015, he has treated us to his thoughts on how to be a good writer, in The Sense of Style. Unlike most style manuals, which tend to be written by pompous pedants who think the language should have been fossilised in about 1900, this book is informed by genuine expertise – Pinker is a cognitive scientist and linguist, able to explain Chomskyian linguistics so that laypeople can understand, with a far deeper knowledge of grammar than the self-styled “language mavens”.
Clarice Lispector was also a literary Modernist, an innovator who conjured glittering surfaces and dark psychological depths. Her biographer, Gregory Brabassa, said she looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf
The first-person narration sweeps like a lighthouse beam from present to past and back again, illuminating the dark with a pitiless glare