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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Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

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Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
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'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
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UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power