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.

France's 'First Lady' Valérie Trierweiler sends letter to her employer Paris Match threatening legal action if they print photos of her in a bikini

It was the snap that France’s celebrity glossies had been waiting for - the presidential couple in their smalls on their summer break.

Governor of al-Qunatara city Riad Hijab – 7 August: During his stint as Governor of the city of Latakia, Hijab oversaw regime crackdowns in the early days of last year’s uprising before being appointed Prime Minister less than two months ago. A Sunni Muslim from the Deir al- Zour area of eastern Syria, he (and his nine siblings, as well as their families) was smuggled into Jordan – a huge
blow to the Syrian regime

Robert Fisk: Riad Hijab defection drives wedge into fractured party

The increasing defection of Sunni figures drives a wedge into an already fractured Baath

Francois Hollande thanks David Cameron for 'rolling out the red carpet' for French athletes to win Olympic medals

President Francois Hollande has had a dig at David Cameron by jokingly thanking Britain for "rolling out the red carpet" for French athletes to win Olympic medals.

Hundreds join pro-abortion rally in Madrid

Hundreds of people joined a demonstration in Madrid yesterday against the government's plans to make it harder for women to get abortions.

On the left, Emma Reynolds and, right, Axelle Lemaire: the two became friends while working in Parliament

Entente féminine that binds UK and France

Cross-Channel friendship fosters a centre-left alliance

Francois Hollande welcomes Ed Miliband to Paris

Labour leader Ed Miliband today said that “the tide is turning” on austerity economics.

Senior regime figures reported to have been killed in yesterday’s blast in Damascus include Dawoud Rajha, Syria’s Defence Minister, shown, second from right, at a ceremony with President Assad last October

Robert Fisk: Syria rebels will not claim their greatest prize

The appalling scenes in Syria begin to reflect the barbarism of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia

Peugeot set to slash 8,000 jobs

The struggling French car maker Peugeot Citroën yesterday launched a drastic cost-cutting plan to slash 8,000 jobs in France and close a factory north of Paris, as it faces diving sales in crisis-hit southern Europe.

Archie Bland: Cameron would do better not to take sides in future

It's embarrassing enough to be overheard being rude about your neighbour if it's just the guy from down the road when you're mouthing off in the pub. Consider how much worse for David Cameron.

France unveils a £5.8bn tax take from wealthy and big firms

France's new Socialist government announced a raft of tax rises worth €7.2bn (£5.8bn) yesterday, including heavy one-off levies on wealthy households and big corporations, to plug a revenue shortfall this year from feeble economic growth.

Antonis Samaras has become the new Prime Minister of Greece after his New Democracy party won 30 per cent of the vote in last Sunday's election

Antonis Samaras sworn in as head of three-party coalition government

Greece got its first elected prime minister for eight months yesterday as the conservative leader Antonis Samaras was sworn in at the head of a coalition government.

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras calls for broad coalition

Europe looked on with wary relief as Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras launched coalition talks after winning elections following weeks of uncertainty over whether the country could remain in the eurozone.

Marine Le Pen seeks French poll recount

The leader of France's main far-right party said today that she is demanding a recount after her razor-thin loss to a Socialist in northern France as part of nationwide legislative elections.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen at a voting station in Mazan, near Carpentras

Hollande secures grip on power with assembly victories

National Front leader Marine Le Pen fails in her bid to enter French parliament

French voters set to elect new parliament

French voters are choosing a new parliament that will determine how far Socialist president Francois Hollande can go with his push for government-sponsored stimulus around Europe.

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Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

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How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

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Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
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Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
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