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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness