Books

Books

Ian McMillan: Why big isn’t necessarily better when it comes to books

How long is a piece of string? Or, to put it another way, how long should a piece of string be? Or, to put it yet another way, how long is a piece of writing and how long should a piece of writing be?

Opinion
Nadeem Aslam

Intolerable cruelty

The Golden Legend is Nadeem Aslam’s fifth novel, and a remarkable one. No surprise there; he is a remarkable writer, born in Pakistan and brought up in Yorkshire after his father, a communist and poet, was obliged to leave his native country some 40 years ago after the military dictator General Zia imposed a hardline, more severely Islamic regime, supported (predictably) by the USA in the years of the Cold War, when anti-communism made Washington suspicious of liberalism and tender towards dictators.

Books
BESTSELLER: Author Wendy Holden whose new book Honeymoon Suite is published next week.  Picture by Tony Johnson

Feelgood fiction

Yorkshire-born author Wendy Holden speaks to Yvette Huddleston about her latest novel Honeymoon Suite and why it’s important to see the funny side of life.

Books
Silver, by Mihir Bose

Silver spy who fooled the Nazis

Bhagat Ram Talwar was an unlikely spy. A Hindu communist who wanted the British out of India, in 1941 he had the task of posing as a Muslim and guiding the Indian nationalist leader Subhas Bose (no relation of the author) into Afghanistan, where Bose would seek safe passage to Germany.

Books
PAGE-TURNER: Joseph Knox's crime thriller Sirens is out now.

Review: Sirens by Joseph Knox

So short and dramatic has Joseph Knox written the chapters in his debut crime thriller, you’ll lose hours at night allowing yourself to read ‘just one more’.

Books
Intellectual work-out

Intellectual work-out

As a new year resolution, instead of rushing to the gym, why not exercise your mind and engage in some thoughtful debate? Grace Hammond reports.

Books
Yorkshire Sculpture Park's poet in residence for 2017, Simon Armitage.  Picture by Bruce Rollinson

How poet Simon Armitage is helping celebrate 40 years of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

It’s a grey December day just before Christmas, but the inclement weather somehow only adds to the allure and atmosphere of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’m there to meet poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage who has just taken up a 12-month residency for the park’s 40th anniversary. Armitage will be helping the YSP celebrate its unique appeal throughout 2017, visiting in different seasons and producing new work in response to the park as well as curating a programme of readings and events, and launching a new publication in the autumn.

Analysis
Author of The Myth Gap, Alex Evans.

Mind the gap

The Myth Gap comes with the recommendation that it is “a must-read for anyone considering how to save the world”. Perhaps; those who are already convinced that the world needs saving won’t need it, while sceptics are unlikely to want to do so. More to the point is the author’s question: “What happens when evidence and arguments aren’t enough?” This is certainly pertinent. The EU referendum and the American Presidential election offer examples of the triumph of feeling over reasoning.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: One day, two greats

It seems obvious to say it, as the new year bursts from the starting blocks and begins the gallop towards December, but history is built on the scaffolding of individual days, and of course a day is just a fictional construct that we’ve invented to measure time with but that doesn’t stop days being full of significance and resonance.

Opinion
Dalia by Jason Doland

Coming to England, at the mercy of people traffickers

Jason Donald’s debut novel, Choke Chain, was an uncompromising piece about the lives of impoverished white South Africans, written in laconic, chiselled sentences. The eponymous heroine of his new work, Dalila, is a 20-year-old woman from Kenya, who, as the story begins, is attempting to get into the United Kingdom on a tourist visa in order to claim asylum. There is some fine writing in this novel, and a noble attempt to empathise with a marginalised individual, but too often it reads like a case study crossed with an opinion piece.

Books
A new chapter

A new chapter

For literature lovers there is a whole host of events on offer around the region in the coming year. Yvette Huddleston selects a few of the highlights.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Why make haste?

The sharp starting point of January is inevitably full of predictions for the year ahead, and it’s always a good exercise to save these articles and look at them a few years later. Holidays on Mars? Not yet. Monorails to work? Afraid not. Only working half a day a week for the same amount of money you work all week for now? In your dreams. Yorkshire dialect dying away? Tha must me evvin me on!

Books
The Automobile Club of Egypt

Chapter and verve for 2017

Arnold Bennett found publishers’ catalogues depressing; so many books, so many eager authors, so many hopes raised, so many to wither quickly. Spending a day going over the spring lists makes me sympathise with his gloom, and there are many more books and authors now than when he was writing more than 100 years ago.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: That’s 2017 sorted

If 2016 is a book then we’re on the last page and we’re about to close it forever and open the first page of 2017, and who knows what kind of book next year will be? Well, nobody can say for certain but I reckon it won’t be dull. It’ll be a thriller with a cast of thousands; it’ll be a page-turner because you really will have no idea what’s going to happen next. And I guarantee that there will be some moments that will make you gasp and put the book down and say: “Well, that’s ridiculous. You couldn’t make that up!”

Opinion
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Glib tidings I bring

I took on extra work this year to fill the family purse; I agreed to pen the occasional original Christmas greeting verse. You know the kind of thing I mean: behind the snowy Yuletide scene, the sentiments both loud and clear expressed in rhyme that drips with cheer, that fizzes like the brightest beer or tugs the heartstrings, brings a tear.

Books
Clockwise from left, writers Ian Rankin, Clare Balding, Simon Mayo, Anthony Horowitz, Cecelia Ahern and Lynne Truss.

The writers’ choice

So many books, so little time to choose them. But there’s no need to fret – we’ve asked some top authors (whose latest titles may already be on your wish list) to reveal what’s top of their reading lists this festive season. Recommendations don’t come much better than this...

Books
Finn Atkins as Charlotte;  Charlie Murphy and Chloe Pirrie as Anne and Emily. The cast filmed on the Yorkshire moors in suitably wuthering weather.

Tragic yet immortal: The Brontës’ unhappy valley

Within nine months, from the September of 1848, through to the May of the following year, three prodigious talents died. The first to go was the older brother, aged a mere 31. In the December a younger sister died. She was just 30. And then in the late spring of 1849, another sibling’s short life was over. She was only 29. The first two died at their home on the Yorkshire moors. The last was at Scarborough. Welcome to to the tragic tale of the Brontës which Sally Wainwright has chosen to focus on for her latest drama.

Cinema
Colin Speakman may be best known for his walking guides, but he has just published his fourth collection of poetry.

Versed in the valleys: There’s poetry in this landscape

How did a man famous for describing the prosaic intricacies of footpath gates, stiles and signposts, not to mention the best Dales bus routes for walkers that connect with the X84, manage to become a published poet? “Poetry’s always been there,” Colin Speakman says.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Shelf life and soul

Whenever we went on holiday as a family to small towns in Scotland or Wales or the north of England, the first thing I would beg my parents to do, even before they’d unpacked the cases and had a nice cup of tea, was to go down the high street and find the nearest bookshop.

Opinion
The Undoing Project

Calculating the odds on a winning team

In 2003 Michael Lewis published Moneyball. The subject was the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s quest to find new and better ways to value players and evaluate strategies. It was influential and both a critical and commercial success.

Books
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