Articles and Essays

Ties that Bind: Elena Ferrante

August 29, 2105 The Economist

NOVELS become literary blockbusters for many reasons. Some are created by mountains of marketing cash, some by media saturation. “Fifty Shades of Grey” and Harper Lee’s long-lost work, “Go Set a Watchman”, both fit this mould. Others are fuelled by something quite different, and their success is impossible to predict. In recent years “The Neapolitan Novels”, four volumes by an anonymous Italian author calling herself Elena Ferrante, have become a fictional juggernaut that not even the author’s English-language publishers, Europa Editions, saw coming. Read more

Contemporary Art: Out of Thin Air

May 22, 2015, Prospero

FEW museumgoers forget an artwork by Tino Sehgal. It is not just that his pieces erupt unexpectedly in often empty galleries, with individuals and groups dancing and singing and engaging visitors in provocative dialogues. The live situations that Mr Sehgal devises are memorable for another, simpler reason: memory is the only way to recall them. Read more

Matisse’s cut-outs: Carving into colour

April 12, 2104 The Economist

THE image is as striking as it is unexpected: Henri Matisse aged 80, sitting in a cane wheelchair, slicing giant shears through a sheet of colour held in his left hand. At his feet a litter of bright paper scraps surrounds him; a riot of dancing shapes is pinned to the walls. Read more

Holocaust memoirs: out of the shadow

February 27, 2014 The Economist online

BEFORE the lights dimmed, Rita Goldberg asked for a show of hands. How many in the audience were, like herself, children of survivors of the Holocaust? A score of those attending the presentation at London's Jewish Book Week raised their arms. Some were in tears afterwards in the signing queue for Ms Goldberg's newly published memoir, "Motherland: Growing up with the Holocaust". Read more

Rare manuscripts: A book for the ages

January 31, 2014 The Economist online

IN 1998, the elderly Baroness Bettina Looram-Rothschild finally wrested her parents' Nazi-seized art from the Austrian government and put it up for sale. Among the treasures of the collection was a 16th-century illuminated manuscript considered a masterpiece of Flemish Renaissance painting. Read more

North Korean Propaganda

Jan. 24, 2013 The Economist online

THE Arirang mass games in Pyongyang, North Korea, are the largest and most bombastic exercise of state propaganda in the world. Few foreigners are permitted to watch this summertime spectacle extolling the founding myths of the communist state. Jeremy Hunter did. Full article.


A Literary Bridge to Baghdad

Dec. 28, 2012  The Economist online


ON March 5th 2007, a car bomb exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. The attack tore through the heart of the city’s historic literary district, a block crammed with cafés and bookstores. A world away, a San Francisco bookseller read about the attack in his morning paper. So began an art and writing project called “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here”. Full article



The Anti-Grimm


April 4, 2012, The Economist online


What modern mother hasn't cringed at the pink and passive fairy tale princesses served up to her impressionable girl? The Disney versions of Snow White and Cinderella, Belle and Rapunzel are heroines of such vapid foolishness one wonders how they survived into the 21st century. Full article


The death of chick lit?


March 6, 2012, The Economist online


A decade after "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic" unleashed a tsunami of stiletto heels, chick lit isn't as much dead as transformed. Full article


We Ten Million


November 24, 2010, More Intelligent Life


Somewhere in the world right now, ten million souls are hunched over their keyboards writing novels. Ten million hopeful scribblers in their holes. Good Lord, I’m one of them. Full article


Angelika's Dacha


October 22, 2009, The New York Times / International Herald Tribune


The “dacha” was nothing like Dr. Zhivago’s. Angelika didn’t look like Pasternak’s Lara, either. It was hard to say which was more kitsch: the white asbestos box or the bleached-blonde East German woman from whom we were trying to buy. Full article

Writers on Trial


September 24, 2006, The Washington Post


She was, and still is, a nobody. He is Germany's most famous writer. But Margarete Barthel and Guenter Grass share a great deal in common. Full article


Guarding the Truth 

February 26, 2006, The Washington Post

Margarete Barthel says she feels guilty for her wartime role as a guard at Ravensbrueck concentration camp. She also says it was the 'most beautiful' time of her life. Full article


A shift in the landscape


December 16, 2004, The Economist


The building site is still surrounded by a chain-link fence, but it is already a staple on the Berlin tourist circuit. Scores of visitors climb an observation platform daily to count the grey pillars as they rise: some four metres (13 feet) high, others barely above the ground. Full article


The Hogwarts express


April 23, 2012, The Economist online


J.K. ROWLING, the author of the Harry Potter series, is ubiquitous again. At the London Book Fair last week, her face dominated the Little, Brown booth, promoting her forthcoming novel, "The Casual Vacancy". Full article



Reports of dislocation


March 4, 2012, The Economist online


Tom Craig, a British photographer, and A.A. Gill, a journalist, have collaborated on assignment in 15 countries over the past eight years to produce reportage that is both powerful and increasingly rare. Full article


A digital reinvention


August 28, 2012, The Economist online


Shakespeare has been especially present across Britain this summer. Each of his 37 plays was performed in a different language at the Globe theatre in London. Full article


How hard can it be to write a novel?


November 7, 2011, The Economist online


Bosses would do well to be alarmed. November is here, and with it a good chance that the back office isn't crunching data, but whacking out a novel on the sly. Full articles