Arts and Entertainment Nathan Filer, winner of the 2013 Costa Book of the Year

33-year-old upsets the odds with his novel 'The Shock of the Fall' - the story of a teenager's descent into mental illness

London: Capital of the world

Halfway through Europe's most glorious century, the 19th, Eugne Guinot opined "in Europe there are two capitals: Paris for the winter and Baden-Baden for the summer". This month I have visited both. However lovely the German spa town may be, it does not have the qualities of scale, diversity, wealth and culture that defines a great capital (and no, it wasn't just that I was there in the wrong season). The French capital has a stronger claim, yet it has been comprehensively out-pointed in our survey of civic greatness. London is the world's capital, and ex officio capital of Europe, the northern hemisphere and, let's speculate, the solar system.

John Rentoul: Alan Johnson could move into Prescott's office tomorrow. So why not the top job?

If there is a sudden vacancy, Johnson is surely the favourite

Peter Heath: 'Planners are learning to see waterfronts as an asset, not an obstacle'

From a speech by the principal public realm specialist of Atkins, to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

BOOKS: PICK OF THE WEEK

Children's Literary Festivals Tue to Fri South Bank Centre & Barbican Pit, London

REVIEWS: CLASSICAL - OAE / Norrington Queen Elizabeth Hall London oooo9

CONTRARY TO myth, the output of J S Bach was never wholly forgotten after his death in 1750. Some of the keyboard music continued to circulate in manuscript; the motets, to be sung in Leipzig, where Mozart heard one. And a belated biography in 1802 sparked new interest. But it was the first performance in a century of the St Matthew Passion, put on in Berlin in 1829 by the 20-year-old Mendelssohn, that really kick-started the great 19th-century Bach revival.

Classical Music: Dances with wolves

When she's not on stage, the pianist Helene Grimaud runs an animal sanctuary. The responsibility enriches her music, she tells Michael Church

The next Pavarotti, moi?

Juan Diego Florez is touted as the tenor to watch. After his triumphant Royal Opera run, he tells Michael Church he is shocked - but rather chuffed - at being compared to 'last century's greatest voice'

Swinging his praises

When everyone was listening to Sinatra, Ol' Blue Eyes himself was listening to the velvet-voiced Tony Bennett, who tells Anthony Quinn how he is keeping the timeless art of crooning alive

Mory Kante: In search of the colour of music

Mory Kante, the legendary West African griot, tells Tim Cumming how he combines traditional sources of music with Western instruments in his new album, Sabou
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Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
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Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
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Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
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Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
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Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
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Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
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Day In a Page

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
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015