4 items from 2013
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (Fourth Estate) is a brilliant, sprawling, layered and unsentimental portrayal of contemporary China. It made me think and laugh. I also love Dave Eggers' The Circle (Hamish Hamilton), which is a sharp-eyed and funny satire about the obsession with "sharing" our lives through technology. It's convincing and a little creepy.
By strange coincidence two of the most intriguing art books I read this year had the word "Breakfast" in their titles. They were Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig (Jonathan Cape) and Breakfast at Sotheby's by Philip Hook (Particular). Greig's fascinating, intimate biography of Lucian Freud was a revelation. Every question I had about Freud – from the aesthetic to the intrusively gossipy – was »
- Hilary Mantel, Jonathan Franzen, Mohsin Hamid, Tom Stoppard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, William Boyd, Bill Bryson, Shami Chakrabarti, Sarah Churchwell, Antonia Fraser, Mark Haddon, Robert Harris, Max Hastings, Philip Hensher, Simon Hoggart, AM Homes, John Lanchester, Mark Lawson, Robert Macfarlane, Andrew Motion, Ian Rankin, Lionel Shriver, Helen Simpson, Colm Tóibín, Richard Ford, John Gray, David Kynaston, Penelope Lively, Pankaj Mishra, Blake Morrison, Susie Orbach
The life and works of the late Iain Banks will be celebrated by close friends including Ian Rankin and Val McDermid in a special event at this August's Edinburgh international book festival, for which the Guardian is media partner.
"Scotland and the world were rocked by his death last weekend," said Nick Barley, the festival director. "We'd been planning a celebration anyway as we're marking our 30th birthday, and his first novel, The Wasp Factory, was out in 1984. I spoke to him many times about what he'd like to do. He wanted to be there – sadly he can't be."
Instead, the event on the festival's closing Sunday will see Scottish authors including Rankin, McDermid and Ken MacLeod looking back over Banks's 29-year career. »
- Alison Flood
To be fair, not everyone hated Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. New York's David Edelstein called it "one of the most immediate, personal costume dramas ever made"; 55 percent of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes sided with him, to varying degrees. But seven years later, Marie Antoinette, loosely based on the best-selling Antonia Fraser biography, is probably Coppola's least-loved film. It's the one that got booed at Cannes (though of course it did, Cannes is in France); it is the one that didn't live up to Lost in Translation. And if you are anti-Sofia, then it is probably the most obvious example of her worst tendencies: style over substance, minimal plot, overprivileged young women who refuse to speak in full sentences or really at all. I happen to love Marie Antoinette; it’s probably my second favorite of Coppola’s films, right behind Lost in Translation. And while I understand »
- Amanda Dobbins
Prince Charles offers viewers a tour of his family's art collection: the Rembrandts, the Windsors
• Royal Paintbox on ITV Player
I'm not a massive fan of the genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? I'm not even very interested in my own family tree; why would I be in some sleb's? Parents, grandparents – the people you know/knew, remember, and were influenced by, and the people they knew and remember and were influenced by, it's interesting that far back, that's my rule. Before that, I'm not bothered. And because it gets wider the further back you go (eight great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents etc), it's not hard to find someone interesting in there, a criminal, an aristocrat, a boxer, something.
Prince Charles doesn't have to go far back at all. His mum is queen of bloody England! His grandad was king'n'all. And so on. Back in the day it »
- Sam Wollaston
4 items from 2013
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