Ian Thomson first contributed to the paper when it was founded in 1986. Here is a selection of reviews and articles.


How Guy Fawkes Day ruined my ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier interview

Tuesday 14 October 2014

When ‘Baby Doc’, who died earlier month, was in exile, the writer Ian Thomson sought out the bling-loving Haitian dictator for an interview. But things didn’t go as planned…


The History of England Volume III: Civil War by Peter Ackroyd – book review: A smoothly readable analysis of events

Saturday 27 September 2014

Peter Ackroyd, our most industrious and prolific man of letters, is at present engaged in an ambitious, six-volume history of England, the first two volumes of which appeared in 2012 and 2013.


The View from the Train: Cities & Other Landscapes By Patrick Keiller: book review – A delightful journey in search of Britain’s urban hinterlands

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Arthur Rimbaud’s shimmering poetry collection, Illuminations, was partly inspired by his visit to London in 1872. Brocaded with a dizzy-making imagery of subways, viaducts, raised canals, bridges and steam engines, the poems are thrillingly metropolitan. Accompanied by his lover Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud noted down all he heard and saw. In some ways, Illuminations can be read as a poetic gloss on Karl Marx’s Das Kapital: the London masses as seen by the 19th-century French poet are alienated by “economic horrors” and “feel no need to know one another”.


Book review: Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe, By Simon Winder

Friday 27 September 2013

Hidebound and eccentric, the crusty old empire and its mixed folk gave a home to tolerance


Book review: The World Is Ever Changing, By Nicolas Roeg

Friday 12 July 2013

Cut by cut, the great maverick director creates a scintillating montage of memory


The Enigma of the Return, By Dany Laferrière, trans. David Homel

Friday 10 May 2013

A magnificent meditation on loss and political exile as a great Haitian writer returns home


Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked, By James Lasdun

Friday 22 February 2013

This dark memoir of internet obsession reveals cyberspace as an increasingly Kafkaesque domain


A Delicate Truth, By John le Carré

Friday 19 April 2013

Welcome back our peerless spymaster, with another novel that unmasks low deeds in high places


Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, By Geoff Dyer

Friday 10 February 2012

Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, released in the USSR in 1979, radiates an enduring sense of mystery and disquiet. I have seen it five times, though viewing can feel like a penance. Tarkovsky does not set out to entertain: some of his shots last up to seven minutes. The plot? Three middle-aged men undertake a journey through an industrial wasteland in search of an elusive place called the Zone, where the normal laws of life are mysteriously suspended. With its watery images of disused chemical factories and silted urban waterways, the film cries out for exegesis. What does it mean? Geoff Dyer first saw Stalker in 1981 while a student at Oxford; 30 years on, Zona is his non-fiction appraisal of the film and what it means to him today.


Vanished Kingdoms: The history of half-forgotten Europe by Norman Davies

Friday 28 October 2011

As a child I had assumed that my mother was English. I learned later that she was born in the Baltic seaport of Tallinn, a magical city which is German Lutheran in detail but Tsarist in imagination.


The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began, By Stephen Greenblatt

Friday 30 September 2011

In Primo Levi’s personal anthology of his favourite writings, The Search for Roots, is a specialist paper on how to prevent cockroach attack on industrial varnishes. Levi’s “roots” were only part literary: by profession he was an industrial chemist. Of the 30 authors he chose, eight were scientists or prototype scientists. Among them was the Latin poet Lucretius, whose book-length philosophic poem On the Nature of Things Levi considered a luminous celebration of the mysteries of the natural world. The deeper Levi read into the poem, he said, the more he was awed by its grandeur and uncanny modernity. In the “poet-researcher” Lucretius, he found an alternative theology that recognised no God, but which anticipated a large part of contemporary science.