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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them<p>Scroll down for our favourite literary links<br>• Read more Tips, links and suggestions blogs<p>Welcome to this week’s blog, and apologies for the delay. Here’s a roundup of your comments and photos from last week, including a memoir …

Lost for Words review – Edward St Aubyn’s tart farce about literary prizes

Resentment looms large in this cruel retelling of the 2011 Booker jury deliberations<p>Edward St Aubyn was among the heavyweights who lost out when 2011’s Booker jury went for novels that “zip along”; cue this tart farce about a fiction gong bankrolled by a napalm manufacturer. Ahead of prize night, …

The Outcast review – ‘I feared for Sadie Jones’s adaptation of her perfect novel – but it is excellent’

Iain Softley’s beautifully restrained direction and the careful use of music creates a real feeling of loss from the start<p>Sadie Jones risked smashing a perfect thing when she signed up to adapt her book <b>The Outcast</b> (BBC1, Sunday) for television. The novel, one of my favourites, bursts with a fragile …

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton review – it will send shivers down your spine

A woman and her daughter are plunged into an Arctic hell in this stylish chiller by the author of the bestselling Sister<p>It is difficult to think of a more seasonally inappropriate novel to read this summer than Rosamund Lupton’s <i>The Quality of Silence</i>. As we swelter under July skies, her central …

The 100 best novels: No 95 – The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald (1988)

Fitzgerald’s story, set in Russia just before the Bolshevik revolution, is her masterpiece: a brilliant miniature whose peculiar magic almost defies analysis<p>Penelope Fitzgerald published her first novel in 1977 and won the Booker prize with <i>Offshore</i> in 1979, aged 63. Not since Daniel Defoe (No 2 in …

19 Artists Who Went Out On A High With Insanely Great Final Albums

They say you have a lifetime to work on your debut, but what about your final album? Some bands split, others go on indefinite hiatus, while others …

'I'm low maintenance. Life isn't about possessions'

From the BBC to bluegrass, Road Rage to reality TV, the inimitable Cerys Matthews opens up about her eclectic past and future passions to Judith Woods<p><b>Cerys Matthews</b> is dressed like a High Noon gunslinger on the second hottest day of the year. Black skinny jeans, black boots, black shirt buttoned …

Greek crisis: European leaders scramble for response to referendum no vote

Merkel and Hollande will meet for crisis talks and the ECB faces a crucial decision over its funding lifeline after Greece rejected austerity by 61% to 39%<p>European leaders were scrambling for a response on Monday after a resounding no from Greek voters in a momentous referendum on austerity which …

Tchaikovsky piano competition sees self-taught Frenchman take Russia by storm

The story shifted from a political one to a musical one in unmissable style, as Ismene Brown reports<p>Of all the classical music competitions around the world, Moscow’s four-yearly Tchaikovsky international competition is the big one, the “musical Olympics”, and the most politicised. Born in high …

What Putin’s Russia made of my documentary inside North Korea

It’s an odd place to screen my North Korean documentary Aim High In Creation! – a St Petersburg multiplex, with its own Starbucks and Hollywood blockbusters on fast turnaround. Vasily Koretsky, curator of the North Korean section of the St Petersburg international media forum, leads me to a cinema …

Do you really know what ‘Orwellian’ means?

This time a month ago on the Reading group, we were hunting for the meaning of “Kafkaesque”. We were marvelling at its many applications and at just how often - and with how many subtle and not so subtle variations – the term is used and abused. But now that George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is …

Everything I Never Told You tops Amazon’s 100 best books of 2014

Amazon.com has chosen Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You as its book of the year, ahead of a wealth of prominent titles from Richard Flanagan’s Booker-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North (93rd) to Hilary Mantel’s short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher …

A Most Wanted Man review – Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb swansong

A weirdly bracing atmosphere of disillusion pervades Anton Corbijn’s superbly composed and controlled movie, adapted by the Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell from John le Carré’s 2008 spy novel, and featuring an outstandingly wintry performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final leading …

The Ark Before Noah by Irving Finkel review – the story of the Flood retold

The ark didn’t look boxy, with a raised prow and a wide gangplank for the animals. It is more likely to have been circular, made out of massive reeds waterproofed with bitumen. These are the craft that until recently were rowed up and down the Euphrates. How to build one without perishing is one of …

Man Booker prize 2014: why the longlist has bewildered the bookies

In a nice coincidence, Commonwealth Games athletes paraded in Wednesday's opening ceremony just a few hours after this year's competitors were unveiled for an award hitherto limited to authors from Commonwealth (and ex-Commonwealth) countries. In the much-parroted words of its sponsor, Man Group, …

Us by David Nicholls review – the One Day author has raised his game

So, here we go. A new book by David Nicholls is now an event that measures pretty near a 10 on the publishing industry Richter scale. Yet for all the magnitude of hype that will herald its arrival, <i>Us</i> is in some ways quite a gentle book. It doesn’t scream about itself, but is no worse for that.<p><i>Us</i> is …

Interstellar review – if it’s spectacle you want, this delivers

The title of Christopher Nolan’s behemoth space epic says it all – a grandiloquent declaration of scale that smacks simultaneously of ambition and hubris – like Titanic, both the ship <i>and</i> the film. The good news is that this flawed but frequently awe-inspiring movie about wormholes and black holes …

Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake: a novel approach to Old English

Of the 120 reader reviews on Amazon for Paul Kingsnorth’s debut novel The Wake, most are either adoring five stars hailing one of the most unexpectedly exciting books of the year. Or one star. People hate it. “One of my favourite reactions is ‘I don’t like to concentrate when I’m reading fiction’,” …

’71, first-time director’s film about the Troubles, wins nine Bifa nominations

A historical drama about a soldier in Belfast at the height of the Troubles has picked up the highest number of nominations at this year’s British independent film awards.<p>’71, from the first-time director Yann Demange and starring the former Skins actor Jack O’Connell, picked up nine nominations, …

The Downfall of Money: Germany's Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class by Frederick Taylor – review

The central question of Taylor's history of Weimar Germany is what happens when we lose confidence in our money? It's one he believes still resonates today, as Europe grapples with a crisis that is both economic and to do with identity: "hard-edged nationalism is back in fashion".<p>Ninety years ago …

Book reviews roundup: 1946, Nora Webster and My Story: Julia Gillard

What the critics thought of 1946 by Victor Sebestyen, Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín and My Story by Julia Gillard<p>"This is an exceptionally involving and horrifying book," wrote <b>Sam Leith</b> in the Spectator about <i>1946</i> by Victor Sebestyen. The author "isn't that much of a stylist, but heaven knows he can …

Nocookies

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