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Looking for an Enemy: 8 Essays on Antisemitism review – hatred hiding in plain sight

Erudite writers from across the world warn that the prejudices that drove the Holocaust have never gone awayAt Karachi airport two years ago, among the bestsellers in a busy bookshop, there was a new edition of Mein Kampf – not being sold as a historical, reviled document but as a contemporary “must read” in a dizzily cheery new cover. I was returning...

At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop review – war and mental collapse

The International Booker prize winner is a brilliant, shifting tale of a Senegalese soldier’s descent into madnessWinning a big prize can be bittersweet for a writer: now the majority of people who read your book will have sky-high expectations, higher, indeed, than the judges who gave the award. And by the time it won the International Booker prize...

You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone review – Nico as the gothic Garbo

Jennifer Otter Bickerdike’s biography is absorbing and informative but paints a flattering portrait of the enigmatic model turned singerThe German-born chanteuse and model Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico, starred in Federico Fellini’s 1960 box-office hit La Dolce Vita and, for a while, formed part of the New York pop art experiment the Velvet...

From Tudor courts to BLM, a book brings London’s black history to life

The work highlights the plaques and art that celebrate a neglected side of the capital’s cultureA tour of Black London – in picturesShe’s 10ft tall, barefoot, with a simple wrap dress stretching across her breasts and belly. She holds aloft an infant, gazing into its eyes. This is Bronze Woman, a statue on a busy traffic junction in Stockwell, south...

Last Best Hope by George Packer review – shrewd analysis of America’s ruptures

George Packer finds the US caught in a ‘cold civil war’ between incompatible versions of the country after its ‘near-death experience’ with Donald TrumpGeorge Packer’s incisive, deftly argued book about the moral and political quandary of the United States begins and ends with his declaration: “I am an American.” The statement is self-evident but also...

QAnon and on: why the fight against extremist conspiracies is far from over

Far-right conspiracies ran unchecked online in the Trump years. It’s all gone quiet since the Capitol riot, but author Mike Rothschild believes there’s a radicalised audience waiting for a new rallying pointOn 7 January this year, a day after the mob stormed the Capitol in Washington DC, a curious exchange occurred in the netherworld of global conspiracy....

Isabel Waidner: ‘Different doesn’t need to be scary. It can be fun’

The writer of experimental fiction on their debt to America’s ‘new narrative’ tradition, the benefits of a German state education, and exploring homophobia through Franz BeckenbauerIsabel Waidner, 47, is the author of three novels, including We Are Made of Diamond Stuff, which was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths prize and the Republic of Consciousness...

Lost in Work by Amelia Horgan review – why so many people feel unfulfilled

When zero-hours contracts meet monetised side hustles and enforced fun, how do we demand fair pay and reclaim leisure from the clutches of capitalism?A recurrent theme in Lost in Work is that jobs are supposed to be fun these days while leisure is now regarded as something that can – or should – be profitable. It’s visible in the idea that every hobby...

Pain on the page: is this the end of the hysterical, ill woman of literature?

From Hilary Mantel to Irenosen Okojie, contemporary writers are rewriting the story of illness and the female body“I am fascinated by the line between writing and physical survival,” Hilary Mantel wrote in her 2010 essay “Meeting the Devil”. After an operation for endometriosis, she was writing about the need to express pain on the page. With her notebook...

Douglas Coupland on Generation X at 30: ‘Generational trashing is eternal’

Three decades after his debut novel made him the unwilling voice of a generation, the author wonders whether – after Y, Z and now C, for Covid – individuality will become obsoleteOn the Road to Bridget Jones: five books that define each generationI’m 59 and a half years old – and these days I no longer feel that I identify as a human being. I’ve turned...

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