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A poisonous person, Patricia Highsmith was an enduring writer

Ripley’s creator at 100A poisonous person, Patricia Highsmith was an enduring writerShe looked into the gulf of mystery that separates people—and bridged itBooks & artsPATRICIA HIGHSMITH had a thing for snails. She admired their self-sufficiency and found it “relaxing” to watch them copulate, delighted by the impossibility of distinguishing male...

The life and love of the Soviet Union’s last leader

Mikhail Gorbachev’s afterlifeThe life and love of the Soviet Union’s last leaderAs a play and a film show, Mikhail Gorbachev loved Raisa more than he loved powerBooks & artsJan 16th 2021 editionA DRESSING ROOM, two makeup stations and two mirrors. A selection of wigs and dresses. A pair of actors—a man and a woman—enter and sit on stools, facing...

A moving novel of the “dirty war”

Unquiet ghostsA moving novel of the “dirty war”The hell in “Hades, Argentina” is at once metaphorical and literalBooks & artsJan 16th 2021 editionHades, Argentina. By Daniel Loedel.Riverhead; 304 pages; $27. Blackfriars; £14.99.“THIS BOOK”, Daniel Loedel writes in the acknowledgments for his powerful debut novel, “was inspired by my half-sister,...

Mariana Mazzucato wants to revive the Apollo spirit

Fly me to the MoonMariana Mazzucato wants to revive the Apollo spiritBut is today’s America equipped for the effort recommended in “Mission Economy”?Books & artsJan 16th 2021 editionMission Economy. By Mariana Mazzucato.Harper Business; 256 pages; $29.99. Allen Lane; £20.IN JULY 1969 America launched three astronauts into space, landed two of them...

The language of incitement

JohnsonThe language of incitementHow to tell whether words can be held responsible for violenceBooks & artsJan 16th 2021 editionJOHNSON’S FIRST column after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 looked at “speech acts”, or what J.L. Austin, a philosopher, called “doing things with words”. Part of a president’s awesome power is that merely by opening...

The making of a murder

Close quartersThe making of a murderAn investigative journalist revisits a killing during the TroublesBooks & artsJan 9th 2021 editionAnatomy of a Killing. By Ian Cobain. Granta; 304 pages; £18.99.HARRY MURRAY and Millar McAllister had much in common. They were born in the 1940s to humble families in Protestant Northern Ireland, a world where the...

A revealing account of the Cultural Revolution

Changing the guardsA revealing account of the Cultural RevolutionThe formative period in China’s history was more complex than is often believedBooks & artsJan 9th 2021 editionThe World Turned Upside Down. By Yang Jisheng. Translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian.Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 768 pages; $40.AS MOST PEOPLE understand it, the Cultural...

New tools are making it easier to authenticate paintings

Computer says noNew tools are making it easier to authenticate paintingsAnd spot forgeries. Some in the art world are reluctant to embrace themBooks & artsJan 9th 2021 editionFOR ART historians trying to tell the fake from the real, the Russian avant-garde presents unique challenges. As Soviet rule took hold, adventurous works were spirited abroad...

The Arctic misadventures of William Barents

Northern exposureThe Arctic misadventures of William BarentsHe and his successors pursued an ancient dream of a polar trade routeBooks & artsJan 9th 2021 editionIcebound. By Andrea Pitzer. Scribner; 320 pages; $29. Simon & Schuster; £20.WHEN WILLIAM BARENTS, a Dutch navigator, sailed to the Arctic in 1594, he was pursuing the dream of a warm...

“Asylum Road” is a twisty tale of trauma

Memory lane“Asylum Road” is a twisty tale of traumaThe protagonist of Olivia Sudjic’s new novel returns to SarajevoBooks & artsJan 9th 2021 editionAsylum Road. By Olivia Sudjic. Bloomsbury; 272 pages; £14.99.WHEN OLIVIA SUDJIC’S debut novel, “Sympathy”, a study of a young woman’s obsession with social media, was published in 2017 it was hailed as...

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