Interview: Susan Pinker

By Bonnie Estridge, April 2, 2015

Why is it that so many of us lead insular lives? Somehow, we have good intentions, we promise to visit friends or relatives whom we haven't seen for years yet we put it off because we tell ourselves that we are "just too busy."

Before we know it, the months have passed. We bury our heads in the sand and carry on with our busy lives, becoming more and more insular.


In awe of the art of the essay

By Lisa Appignanesi, April 2, 2015

Juddering along in the Tube the other day, deep under London, I was struck, not for the first time, by how much I love the personal essay form. I was reading a scintillating collection by the fine American writer, Phillip Lopate, in one of those compact and handsome Notting Hill Editions.


Mark Rothko: Towards the Light in the Chapel

By Monica Bohm-Duchen, April 2, 2015

By Annie Cohen-Solal
Yale University Press, £18.99

The adjectives "spiritual", "ethical", "religious" - and indeed the word "Jewish" - make frequent appearances in this new biography (part of Yale's Jewish Lives series) of one of the acknowledged giants of post-war American art.


Review: After Birth

By Monica Porter, April 2, 2015

By Elisa Albert
Chatto & Windus, £10.99

Heaven save us from the post-feminist, feminist novel. At least I think that's what American writer Elisa Albert's book is. It's hard to tell, because Albert is a "literary stylist", so she experiments with new forms and isn't always coherent.


The untold story of our friends

By Andrew Miller, March 26, 2015

The stories we read and love as children are almost all about friendship. Surveying the costumes at my kids' school on World Book Day recently, I saw wizards, packs of forest animals, miniature pirates: all of them heroes and heroines of collective adventures.


We'll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers and Hart

By Daniel Snowman, March 26, 2015

By Dominic Symonds
Oxford University Press, £22.99

In 1938, Time magazine suggested that "nobody has ever fused words and music more effectively than Rodgers and Hart." Possibly.


Review: Ismael and his Sisters

By Madeleine Kingsley, March 26, 2015

By Louise Stern
Granta, £12.99

Imagine a community where speech is soundless and hands do the talking. Such a place was Martha's Vineyard, now a stylish summer retreat but once home to so many deaf families that even the hearing conversed in signs.


Review: A Man Lies Dreaming

By David Herman, March 26, 2015

By Lavie Tidhar
Hodder and Stoughton, £18.99

November 1939: a beautiful and mysterious woman walks into a scruffy private eye's office. It is like something out of Raymond Chandler. What isn't from Chandler is the way the woman is described: "She had the face of an intelligent Jewess."

Lavie Tidhar is a young Israeli novelist, based in London.


The rebels who brought London to a standstill

By David Rosenberg, March 19, 2015

In the summer of 1889, the Great Dock Strike brought London's East End to a standstill. The East London News complained that "coal men; match girls; parcels postmen; car men… employees in jam, biscuit, rope, iron, screw, clothing and railway works," had found "some grievance, real and imaginary", to down tools as well.


Review: Roads Taken

By Clive Sinclair, March 19, 2015

By Hasia R. Diner
Yale University Press, £22.50

Midway through Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, when Willy Loman's tailspin is apparent to all, his wife issues her famous lament: "I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character who ever lived.