“Food is the curse of the drinking classes,” writes Kingsley Amis, one of the best-loved British writers of the 20th century and the author of many poems, essays and novels, including the generation-defining comic masterpiece, Lucky Jim. Read more

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I’ve been rereading a fair bit in the past month, and what better at such a time than to stumble upon a beautiful piece in the New Yorker on – what else but? – rereading? Read more

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A kindly soul has sent me a copy of a book I have been looking for for months now: The Atlantic Ocean, a collection of essays on Britain and America by the Scottish writer, Andrew O’ Hagan.

The New York Times has called the 41-year-old O’Hagan the best essayist of his generation (he is also the author of three terrific novels – Our Fathers, Personality and Be Near Me, and The Atlantic Ocean shows you why. Read more

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I have just finished reading Alan Bennett’s incredibly funny novella, The Uncommon Reader (read a review here), which describes what happens when the Queen suddenly becomes passionately devoted to reading. In Bennett’s best style, it is as much a wicked comedy of manners as an inspiring delineation of the pleasures of reading, of why we do, and what might come of it. Read more

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I can’t speak for other people (although, going by the near-unanimous approval this award has drawn, I could if I wanted to), but seldom do I feel so thrilled at the news of a literary prize.

Alice Munro, as you must have read in the last week, has won the Man Booker International Prize, a heavy-duty award in the world of letters and one which, unlike the Man Booker and like the Nobel – is not given for a particular book for a lifetime of work. Read more

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