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.

Francois Hollande and his then partner Valerie Trierweiler greet thousands of gathered supporters at Place de la Bastille after victory in French Presidential Elections on May, 2012

Valerie Trierweiler: Former French First Lady set to pen a tell-all book about the Francois Hollande affair and her time at the Elysee

In interviews published today, Trierweiler says she “fell from a skyscraper” when she learned that Hollande was having an affair with an actress

Wave goodbye: Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler have officially separated

End of the affair as François Hollande vows to live the single life for the rest of his Élysée term after separation from Valérie Trierweiler

President François Hollande, the man who never married, is a bachelor again.

Portfolio: Christian Jankowski reinvigorates interest in Poland's monuments with the help of champion weightlifters

Destroyed by the Second World War, and still raw from both Nazi occupation and its subsequent 45 years of Soviet rule, Warsaw is a city whose history is writ large upon its public spaces.

President François Hollande and First Lady Valérie Trierweiler

Valérie Trierweiler loses First Lady status as President Hollande confirms separation

It is understood that she refused to put her name to the declaration

Marina Ginesta: Socialist activist whose photograph became one of the most memorable images of the Spanish Civil War

When Marina Ginesta heard on 18 July 1936 that the Spanish military had risen against the country's democratically elected government, her first thought was that the army's rebellion was to stop the People's Olympiad, the alternative Olympic Games in Barcelona planned in protest against those held in Nazi Germany in the same summer. "We had no idea what was really happening, we were that innocent," Ginesta, then a member of Spain's Socialist Youth movement and helping to organise the Olympiad, recalled.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: As it is, Ed Miliband’s language fails – another sobering Commons tale

“The press was squared / the middle class was quite prepared.” Hilaire Belloc’s words about another Prime Ministerial hopeful could have been written for Ed Miliband this week. How better to describe his article in the Daily Telegraph, no less, promising to “save the middle class”?

François Hollande's alleged mistress Julie Gayet 'blocked from arts jury'

The actress was expected to be appointed to a jury responsible for selecting state funded scholarships for the Villa Medic academy in Rome

Arthur Scargill at a public meeting in London on the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike in 2009

Former NUM leader Arthur Scargill 'tried to buy London flat under Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme'

Miners' union general secretary Chris Kitchen: 'Unfortunately the perception I had of Arthur the great trade unionist, socialist, just is nothing like the reality as to the man that I know now'

Reporters raise their hands during French President Francois Hollande's annual news conference

French President François Hollande rebuffs media on alleged affair with Julie Gayet: 'These are painful moments, but private matters should be dealt with privately'

This being France, the President escaped close inspection of his private life at a long-awaited press conference. Instead, he talked about his plan to slash state spending. John Lichfield reports from the Elysee Palace

'Anti-Semitic' comic Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala's show banned hours after Nantes court said it could go ahead

Riot police carrying shields blocked access to the Zenith theatre as supporters arrived to protest decision

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope Francis lambasts the rich and reminds the world of what matters most

The head of the Church makes a simple point: Modern society is putty in the hands of the wealthy

Thomas Hitzlsperger with the Germany team

Thomas Hitzlsperger gay: The reaction in Germany after former Aston Villa player comes out

The former midfielder, who was capped 52 times by Germany, has received widespread support

Mr Hollande is accused of abandoning his 'anti-finance' election promises

Francois Hollande makes drastic U-turn on tax cuts and welfare in bid to save presidency

President says he  is ready to axe the ‘excesses and abuses’ of France’s social model

Awkward positioning: Francois Hollande goes for a handshake with Austrian President Heinz Fischer but misses the target

Let’s (not) shake on it! Pictures of international snubs prove François Hollande’s popularity problem

Images add insult to ignominy for the man who polls suggest is now the most unpopular French president in history

France approves Francois Hollande's 75% 'millionaire tax'

Constitutional council says super tax on salaries above €1 million is legal

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor