Arts and Entertainment

Without question, the book that has most influenced my life has been Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I was astonished by the outrageous pot-head humour: crazy ideas taken way beyond their normal limits. The book was a savage indictment of American racism and consumerism, it dealt with the corruption, graft and lies of politicians with Swiftian humour. I had never read anything like, then or since.

Tom Stoppard: The true voice of old England

Plays, politics and patriotism: Tom Stoppard's search for meaning in an uncertain present always takes him back into the past. The playwright, now garlanded with an international award, talks to Ciar Byrne

You write the reviews: Waiting for Godot, Library Theatre, Manchester

Samuel Beckett's subtitle for Waiting for Godot is "a tragicomedy", and that is how Chris Honer, the director of this production, plays it. In the past 50 years, comedians from Bert Lahr and Zero Mostel to Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson have essayed the roles of Vladimir and Estragon, but in his choice of the versatile character actors David Fielder and George Costigan, Honer acknowledges one of the very few hints Beckett ever provided about his enigmatic play.

2006: From Beckett to Betjeman - a bumper crop of anniversaries

Ian Irvine surveys the year's anniversaries: births, deaths and a play that changed theatre for ever

Miles Kington: The overwhelming drama of Test cricket

Viewers e-mailed Richie Benaud to say the tension was so unbearable that they had to leave the room

The Week In Arts: Waiting for Godot

SIR PETER Hall's desire to stage Waiting for Godot at the Arts Theatre in London this autumn is understandable. He wants to mark the 50th anniversary of his staging the premiere of Samuel Beckett's masterpiece. But his wish has been ruined by the Barbican Theatre and the Beckett estate which have jointly forbidden it, as the Barbican is mounting its own version next year.

Lucia Joyce: to dance in the Wake, by Carol Loeb Shloss

The drowned life of a writer's daughter

Calico, Duke of York's Theatre, London

Joyce's tragedy is full of cruel jokes but looks topsy-turvy

Buried Treasure

Don Paterson on Emil Cioran's 'The Trouble With Being Born'

The man who lived in fear

How one tutor faced his obsessional disorder by writing about it

Passed/Failed: An Education in the Life of Hanif Kureishi, whose Screenplays Include My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

Hanif Kureishi's latest novel, `Intimacy', is currently being filmed. `Midnight All Day', his collection of short stories, is out now

Obituary: Dougald McMillan

DOUGALD MCMILLAN was one of the most eccentric, lovable and talented of American literary scholars, but his output was small due to his penchant for getting involved in activities that were a total waste of his talents and, which came to the same thing, to his inability to decide his priorities.

Books: From clown to cinematic icon

Jacques Tati by David Bellos Harvill pounds 25

Obituary: Eric Kahane

ERIC KAHANE was the younger of the two sons of Jack Kahane, an Englishman who went to Paris after the First World War and started the notorious Obelisk Press, which published in English many authors banned in Britain, including Henry Miller, Cyril Connolly, Norman Douglas, Frank Harris, Lawrence Durrell and Cecil Barr (his pen name for himself).

What a cock up!

Perhaps it was down to his publishers, or the critics, or perhaps it was because he was ahead of his time. But someone, somewhere made a huge mistake in consigning BS Johnson (right) to the remainder bin of history. Here Jonathan Coe (inset), author of What a Carve Up! and a lifelong fan, restores the novelist, poet, film-maker, football reporter and fighter to his rightful place alongside the great and eccentric figures of post-war literature
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there