Arts and Entertainment

Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books

Book critics vie for Hatchet Job of the Year award

They might be much-lauded grandees of the literary world, but Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Naomi Wolf were all gleefully cut down to size by acid-tongued reviewers last year. The critics responsible are now vying for their own honour: that of Hatchet Job of the Year.

John J Niven

One minute with: John J Niven, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see? In the office of the house I'm renting in Los Angeles. I can see palm trees and all sort of lush foliage. Also, the sparkly water of the hot tub.

Hilary Mantel's sequel survives as big names miss out on Booker Prize

Four first-time novelists are in the running for the prestigious £50,000 literary award

Amol Rajan: Russian Margarita iss just the tonic to make my holiday

Back in the days before I wrote columns – the epoch BC, I call it – there was one type of column I used to hate more than any other: the summer reading-list column. This chunk of vanity and self-regard, usually trotted out in the third week of July, could always be relied upon to tell you nothing about the writer's actual reading, and everything about his or her intellectual pretensions.

DJ Taylor: Trend alert! Old is the new young

Or maybe I'm just getting on a bit. Trend alert 2! Ignorance is the new innocence ‑ everyone's claiming the Murdoch Defence nowadays

The Word for Snow, Purcell Room, London

Programmes were not distributed until after the show, but you were handed a single sheet of white paper, blank except for one typed word – mine, somewhat dispiritingly, was "sock" – as you made your way into the Purcell Room for this European premiere of a short play by Don DeLillo.

Tom Sutcliffe: From William Hogarth to Martin Amis, it's hard to resist an amoral monster

My question this week: which did Hogarth enjoy drawing more – Gin Lane or Beer Street? Or to put it a different way, which panel do you think he drew first?

Terence Blacker: Nick Clegg's revealing literary fantasy

The effortlessly irritating Nick Clegg has done it again. Clegg the would-be writer has stepped forward, as tentative and unsatisfactory as Clegg the politician. In the latest issue of Easy Living, the Deputy Prime Minister reveals that he would like to write a novel one day. "I find writing very therapeutic," he says. "I would love to emulate the style of one of my favourite writers, J M Coetzee, although I don't think I ever could." During his twenties, he embarked on a novel inspired by another of his literary idols, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, but he abandoned it after 120 "shockingly bad" pages.

Often comic, never heartless: Edmund White

Jack Holmes and His Friend, By Edmund White

When I interviewed Edmund White for a newspaper profile, that supremely gifted photographer Jane Bown came along to take the pictures. In a swift stroke of impromptu genius,she turned the straggly greenery behind a London hotel patio into an antique bower, with White as a sprite – half-Puck, half-Pan – grinning out from between the leaves. If mayhem and upheaval often follow in his spirit's wake, then their passage will leave, beyond the heartbreak and bewilderment, happiness and even some hilarity behind.

Howard Jacobson: The near-religious zeal that drives the godless

Finding in his illness proof that an atheist dies better than a Christian strikes me as tasteless

Deborah Ross: The Not-OK! guide to getting the least out of Christmas

If you ask me: Recipes for Boxing Day... A glazed ham? That's just taking the piss, our survey says
'What makes Mart tick? Martin Amis

Martin Amis: The Biography, By Richard Bradford

It was Private Eye's anonymous critic, reviewing a Yann Martel novel, who warned of the dangers of writing about animals and allegory. He (or she) could usefully have gone on to advertise some of the perils of writing a biography of a living person. First, there is the problem of getting the subject on your side and keeping him there, never mind the threat to your objectivity that this relationship may nurture. Then there is the task of cajoling people who know him (who may regard the enterprise as a vanity project) to talk. Finally, there is the thought that most of your conclusions will necessarily be provisional, as the person may have two or three decades of vigorous existence still to live.

The Swing of Things by Sean O'Reilly

Hell on the streets of Dublin
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
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A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments