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Presenting Alfred Hitchcock, elusive genius

Dial him for murderPresenting Alfred Hitchcock, elusive geniusEdward White finds the man behind the mystiqueBooks & artsApr 10th 2021 editionThe Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock. By Edward White. W.W. Norton; 400 pages; $28.95 and £22.99THE PROFILE is unmistakable. A few lines establish nose, lip, regal forehead, modest hairline and the great round...

Spoken poetry finds fans in eastern Congo

Rhyme for your lifeSpoken poetry finds fans in eastern CongoYoung people put their anger and hopes into slamBooks & artsApr 10th 2021 editionIN A SMALL, dimly lit room one recent Saturday morning, a group of Congolese slammers are chanting about politics and art, poverty and sex. They tower over the seated audience, gesticulating wildly. The listeners...

The tragedy of Jewish art collectors in pre-war Paris

Art and belongingThe tragedy of Jewish art collectors in pre-war ParisThree books portray a glittering, doomed worldBooks & artsApr 10th 2021 editionLetters to Camondo. By Edmund de Waal. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 192 pages; $28. Chatto & Windus; £14.99The House of Fragile Things. By James McAuley. Yale University Press; 320 pages; $30 and...

Alaa Al Aswany revisits Egypt’s doomed revolution of 2011

Egyptian fictionAlaa Al Aswany revisits Egypt’s doomed revolution of 2011Like “The Yacoubian Building”, his new book uses a wide cast of charactersBooks & artsApr 10th 2021 editionThe Republic of False Truths. By Alaa Al Aswany. Translated by S.R. Fellowes. Faber; 464 pages; £16.99. To be published in America by Knopf in August; $28.95IN “THE YACOUBIAN...

Why it’s so hard to fix maddening spelling systems

JohnsonWhy it’s so hard to fix maddening spelling systemsThose who have mastered the old ones hold all the powerBooks & artsApr 10th 2021 edition“KEEPING SCHOOLS closed has DEVESTATING effects” on children, America’s Republican Party tweeted from its official account, before hastily deleting the post amid mockery. It’s not just American conservatives...

Philip Roth’s uneventful turmoil

The human stainedPhilip Roth’s uneventful turmoilHis work was his life—and vice versaBooks & artsApr 3rd 2021 editionPhilip Roth. By Blake Bailey. W.W. Norton; 912 pages; $40. Jonathan Cape; £30PHILIP ROTH insisted he wasn’t a Jewish novelist. This was a strange protestation for an author whose subjects include overbearing Jewish parents and rebellious...

The price of progress in Peru

The AmazonThe price of progress in PeruJoseph Zárate spells it out in “Wars of the Interior”Books & artsApr 3rd 2021 editionWars of the Interior. By Joseph Zárate. Translated by Annie McDermott. Granta; 208 pages; £12OSMAN CUÑACHí was practising free kicks one afternoon in 2016 when thick black oil from a crack in a nearby pipeline started oozing...

The looted Benin bronzes should be returned

The spoils of warThe looted Benin bronzes should be returnedA new book spells out the cultural impact of their theftBooks & artsApr 3rd 2021 editionLoot. By Barnaby Phillips. OneWorld; 400 pages; £20. To be published in America in May; $27.95BENIN CITY, or Edo as it was known in its heyday at the start of the 17th century, was a confident metropolis,...

Reckoning with a family’s past, and a country’s

Daze of the deadReckoning with a family’s past, and a country’sMalaysia’s ghosts return in “Fragile Monsters”Books & artsApr 3rd 2021 editionFragile Monsters. By Catherine Menon. Viking; 256 pages; £14.99IN CATHERINE MENON’S debut novel, the past is less a foreign country than a hostile world. The Australian-British author brings together two women,...

Rachel Whiteread’s haunting new sculptures

Cabin feverRachel Whiteread’s haunting new sculpturesRough replaces smooth in her spiky new techniqueBooks & artsApr 3rd 2021 editionPEOPLE, AND buildings, have come and gone in Mile End since it was first recorded as a settlement in 1288. Some of the Victorian terraces that survived the bombing raids on east London during the second world war were...

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