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.

Hundreds gather in Glasgow, Liverpool and Brixton to 'celebrate' death of Margaret Thatcher

Hundreds of cheering people held parties to “celebrate” the death of Baroness Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher had a complex relationship with the European Union

'A great politician and an exceptional person': European leaders react to Margaret Thatcher's death

The former prime minister had a complex relationship with the European Union

Margaret Thatcher was renowned for her no-nonsense turn of phrase

Margaret Thatcher: In her own words

A selection of The Iron Lady's memorable quotes

Chuka Umunna, Shadow business secretary

Page 3 Profile: Chuka Umunna, Shadow business secretary

The next leader of the Labour party?

Labour MP Chuka Umunna apologises for comments on elite social network saying London's nightclubs are 'full of trash'

A senior Labour MP has apologised for any offence caused by a complaint that London's nightclubs were “full of trash”.

The opposition candidate Henrique Capriles at an antiviolence protest on Monday

Violence - and Hugo Chavez - loom large over race for power in Venezuela

The battle to succeed El Comandante has begun

People gather around the new bells of Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral during their blessing mass

Two centuries on the bells of Notre Dame ring again on 850th birthday

A sound not heard since the late 18th century pealed tunefully, and movingly, over central Paris at the weekend.

David Cameron urges Conservative spring conference to focus on 'the real enemy' ahead of 2015 election

The Prime Minister used  his address to assure members he is sticking to core Tory values

Venezuelan presidential rivals come out fighting in race to succeed Hugo Chavez

Presidential candidates Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles have begun the election race with scathing personal attacks.

RMT accused of dismissing attack claim by activist

RMT union officials subjected a female member to a “character assassination” when she went to them with allegations that a senior leader had violently assaulted her, she has claimed.

Interim President Nicolas Maduro; Henrique Capriles is the most likely choice to challenge Maduro in a snap election

Anointed heir of Hugo Chavez faces competition for the poisoned chalice

Interim President Nicolas Maduro faces a battle to succeed El Comandante

Fidel Castro, left, with his brother, President Raúl Castro, at the National Assembly in Havana, on Sunday

For the first time since 1959, Cuba faces life after Castro

Ageing President Raúl Castro, brother of Fidel, appoints new deputy and signals transition to democracy

Renewed fears over Hugo Chavez's health

Venezuela’s cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez is still suffering respiratory problems after surgery in Cuba two months ago, the government has said in a sombre first communiqué  since his homecoming this week.

A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag in front of the military hospital where Chavez is being treated, in Caracas

World Focus: Has Hugo Chavez come home to rule – or home to die?

Hopes that their idol would take up the reins of his revolution appear to have dissipated

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?