Belgian writer Annelies Verbeke: her novel “is a fearless exposé of the world we live in and how we live”

Annelies Verbeke’s fearless, intelligent novel follows the fortunes of a kindly decorator

Angela Hewitt: Her parents started her off on Bach “because his music is the basis of piano technique”. Photograph: James Cheadle

Classical legend’s first concert kicks off all 141 of Bach’s solo works for keyboard

Ecclesiastical games: in The Hungry Grass (1969), Richard Power ‘evokes a rural Ireland which is both of the past and still very much of the present’

The priest at the centre of this reissue is one of Irish literature’s most memorable creations

Man Booker 2016: Madeleine Thien’s  Do Not Say We Have Nothing is the exception rather than the rule. Photograph: PA

Man Booker selection pales in comparison to international stablemate - this is where the titles of real quality can be found, lost(...)

Man Booker shortlist: David Szalay, Deborah Levy, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Otessa Moshfegh, Paul Beatty, and Madeleine Thien. Photographs: PA

Madeleine Thien now favourite with symphonic masterwork Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Roy Jacobsen’s ‘prose is beautiful, clean, poised and plain-speaking, but there are interludes of Shakespearean grandeur in the dazzling descriptions of storms’. Photograph by Siv-Elin Nærø

Eileen Battersby found Roy Jacobsen’s book to be as blunt as it is subtle, and one of the best novel she’s ever read

 JM Coetzee: The biggest issue facing the reader is what is going on, while Coetzee’s main problem could prove ensuring the reader even cares. Weekend Review books September 2016. JM Coetzee. Harvill Secker publicity shot by Bert Nienhaus.

Possibly post-apocalyptic narrative preoccupied with impromptu and relentless philosophical discourse

Literary setting: in Joan London’s novel Sullivan, encased in an iron lung because of his polio, is writing a poem about a ceiling. Photograph: Jonathan Kirn/Corbis via Getty

Joan London’s characters attempt to shape a communal present as Australia absorbs the effects of the polio epidemic that terrorise(...)

  Annsert Whyte,  Kerron Clement and  Thomas Barr in the 400m hurdles final. Photograph:   Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty

Waterford athlete was one stride away from bronze in Olympic 400m hurdles final

Activist Gerry Jones outside St Paul’s school on Adelaide Road, Glasthule, where Roger Casement attended. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Plans to build four townhouses on site of school 1916 patriot believed to have attended

The sculpture Frauengruppe, by Will Lammert, at the memorial site of former concentration camp Ravensbruck, in Fuerstenberg, Germany. Photograph: Michael Gottschalk/photothek via Getty

Haderlap’s novel of growing up in rural Carinthia is part autobiography, part memoir

Published to a muted response in Turkey in the 1940s, was revived there more than three years ago and has remained a bestseller ev(...)

Yuri Herrera: writer for a doomed era. Photograph: Panta Astiazaran/AFP/Getty

The second in a trilogy of novels by Yuri Herrera startles with its topicality about Mexico-US border tensions

The funeral of Roger Casement in Dublin. Casement’s remains were removed from England where he was hanged for high treason and reburied in Glasnevin Cemetery. Photograph: McMahon/Getty Images

On the centenary of his tragic execution, it is worth recalling the rebel’s adventurous life

Athlete Ronnie Delaney in 1956. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection). (Photo by Independent News and Media/Getty Images)

Delany, Spitz and Korbut are among the athletes who achieved sporting immortality at the Games

Gonzalo Torné: his third novel is like a Spanish version of Portnoy’s Complaint

The hero of this nastily funny Spanish novel is a whinger on the verge of a nervous breakdown

The Sellout by Paul Beatty; The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee; Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy

Irish authors lose out as four debuts included on 13-strong list

Cian O’Connor competed on his 13th Aga Khan team in 15 years. He jumped double clear on Friday on his Belgian stallion, Good Luck. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Show jumping seen as minority interest despite considerable contribution to economy

A classic western about Billy the Kid’s final days re-released on its 60th anniversary

 Denis Lynch on All Star 5 as the horse refuses the final fence in the jump-off against Italy, who went on to win  the Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show  in the RDS yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Irish showjumping team performs well, but elegant Italian quartet prove class above rest

 Manuel Rivas author of The Low Voices: tells wonderful stories.   Photograph:  Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images

Manuel Rivas’s beautifully translated memoir/novel brilliantly capture a time, a place and a family

Olympic rein: Greg Broderick with MHS Going Global at Ballypatrick Stables. Photo: John D Kelly

Ireland’s sole showjumper at next month’s Games is determined to produce his best in Rio

History half-remembered: a soldier guards what used to be the   palace of president Nicolae Ceausescu in Bucharest, Romania. Photograph: Kevin Weaver/Getty

A subtle but daring novel tells of a Romanian emigrant who can never return

Anne Tyler: delicate gifts. Photograph: Michael Lionstarr/Four Colman Getty/PA

Tyler’s twee updating of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is an ill-judged caper

 Young people lay wreaths during a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the battle of the Somme at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial on July 1st, 2016 in Thiepval, France. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/Getty Images

This is an important work about the first World War largely because of the material from which it draws

Marge Simpson: the blue-haired great American mom who has nurtured her family of Homer, Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie

On its birthday, a very personal list of the best gifts the US has given the world

 British troops go over the top from the trenches in  the Battle of the Somme. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty

On the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, two versions of a classic antiwar play – one by Irishman Patrick Healy, one by Fr(...)

A woman overlooking Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada. Photograph: Jordan Siemens

The best of Canada includes the food, the people and, of course, the view

Jean Echenoz:  meticulous and precise

Barely a novella in length, 1914 displays the authority of an historian and the humanity of a storyteller

 Annie Proulx: majestic short story writer falters in  epic novel of environmental carnage. Photograph:  Gus Powell

At more than 700 pages, Proulx’s polemical lament uses up a lot of wood pulp

William Wall: a shrewd ear for dialogue and the offbeat. Photograph: David Sleator

In these 20 short stories, familiar themes – god, sex and death – are again made strange

Edmund White  in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, in 2014. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Novel cleverly juxtaposes the meat-market fantasies of modelling with those of desire

Akhil Sharma has been announced as the winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award speaks to Eileen Battersby

 Akhil Sharma has been announced as the winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award.  Photograph: Jason Clarke

Unexpected win for second novel which cost author years of hardship and emotional stress

“On arrival the rake is box-like and surprisingly compact, but it then unfolds like a praying mantis and extends its arms.” Photograph: John W Anderson

A richer variation on hay must be cut, dried and quickly wrapped airtight

Conor O’Callaghan stamps his authority on this low-key but pitch-perfect novel, one of most impressive pieces of Irish fiction si(...)

Novelist Don DeLillo ponders the big unanswerable – mortality – in a speculative tale that is like a summation of his artistic vis(...)

Painting by Otto Dix, ‘War Cripples,’ at a Nazi exhibition of Degenerate Art at the Munich Hofgarten, July 1937. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

Although he created some of the most powerful anti-war images ever seen, the German artist maintained an ambivalence about the co(...)

Translator Deborah Smith and author Han Kang will share the £50,000 prize equally. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Korean novelist’s beautiful and disturbing book renders the reader spellbound

Aidan Higgins  in his garden in Kinsale, Co Cork residence. Photograph: Billy MacGill

Half a century on, Aidan Higgins’s debut novel remains bold, expressive and daring

Máire Flavin plays Mimi (above) in Opera Theatre Company’s La bohème.  This new production of La bohème is directed by Ben Barnes, one of the Opera Theatre Company co-founders, whose previous work with the company  includes that magnificently theatrical production of Orfeo in 2012 which balanced lyricism with menace and inspired choreography. Photograph: Opera Theatre Company

Puccini melodrama set in 19th century Paris being sung in Italian with English surtitles

David Attenborough has seen far more than perhaps anyone else alive, and is still eager to see more. Therein lies his genius. Photograph: Sarah Dunn/ BBC

As he celebrates his birthday, we survey the life and work of the world's greatest documentarian - from boyhood fossil collecting,(...)

Beautiful imagery dominates Ilija Trojanow’s wise, cunning little novel, sensitively translated from the German

The selection mixes sublime examples with weaker pieces and a glaring omission or two

Caravaggio, Cortés and Anne Boleyn head a historical cast in this lively, freewheeling tale

‘Han Kang’s The Vegetarian is the finest book on a very good shortlist.’

High class shortlist of six shows strength of work published in English translation

International Dublin Literary Award: the 10 books on the shortlist

‘Jenny Erpenbeck should become the prize’s first German winner with ‘The End of Days’’

A Romanian schoolboy’s novel-cum-journal is funny, lively and defiant

Rarely has a postmodernist work been handled so engagingly as by this Romanian master

The majestic Una river becomes a metaphor for life – and death – in this delicate, haunting novel by a veteran of the Bosnian war (...)

Desperate: African immigrants are arrested after their dinghy is intercepted on a Spanish beach.  In Escape Attempt, Montes plans to exploit Omar, an immigrant living in vile conditions. Photograph: J.Ragel/AP

DeLillo and Ballard are two major influences on this unpretentious Spanish novel, which takes a humane look at the some of the na(...)

Andrei Makine: “French gives me the distance writers need. You need to be away from something, a memory, a country.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Andrei Makine’s fiction conveys a mood closely linked with his dislocation

German novel of social isolation is dull, vague and directionless, Eileen Battersby finds

At a mere 183 pages South Korea’s Han Kang’s superb and disturbing novel in three acts, ‘The Vegetarian’, towers over the Man Booker International Prize long list.

Candidates for now combined literary award uneven but greeted with interest

A lack of narrative cohesion leaves this much-hyped debut novel floundering

Romanian writer’s remarkable second novel is well served by a graceful, eloquent translation

Tom McCarthy’s captivating Satin Island raised the bar for the school of cerebral, perceptive, confessional literary disengagement. Heinzz Helle, above,  offers a far less sophisticated, if recognisable variation on the theme of what indeed is life and existence

Aimlessness quickly emerges as the theme as the observant narrator inhabits a bubble of disengagement in this small, all too huma(...)

 Mary Murray, Caitriona Ennis and Ian Toner in ‘Wild Sky’ which was commissioned by Meath County Council. Photograph: Fergal Phillips

Deirdre Kinahan’s new play set in Co Meath was staged in Rossnaree House

Jhumpa Lahiri: “A lack of a language to identity with.” Photograph: Venturelli/WireImage

An English and Bengali speaking author who explores identity writes a book in Italian

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee, in a  courthouse in her hometown. File photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ author was a feisty storyteller with a powerful message

Irish-Canadian writes about mental illness with peculiar decency and candour in this caustically funny novel, says Eileen Battersb(...)

A study of an ordinary, quietly heroic life is one of the finest novels of the 20th century

Flamboyant writing combined with a tragic subject make the author’s fifth novel a searing, unforgettable read, writes Eileen Batte(...)

This meditative novel by the author of The Vegetarian is heartbreaking and amazingly disjointed

Friendship and betrayal, hope and guilt and the torment of remembering are Drago Jancar’s themes in this kaleidoscopic, communal (...)

This bold adult novel by a popular Dutch children’s author has moments of almost painful beauty, writes Eileen Battersby

Portrait of French author and philosopher Albert Camus (1913 - 1960) leans on a terrace outside his Paris office, Paris, France, 1957. (Photo by Loomis Dean/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

This oddball Spanish novel about Albert Camus jumbles facts and fiction, to tediously unconvincing effect

Mary Whelan from Dublin, Deirdre Hannon from Athlone, Orla Magill from Armagh and Karen Ward from Dublin outside Newgrange on the morning of the winter solstice. Photograph: Alan Betson

Hundreds gather to witness the solstice and celebrate ancient mid-winter gathering

 Ailbhe Hickey from Dublin and Aoife Doolan from Cork with other lottery winners in the chamber at Newgrange on the morning of the Winter Solstice, December 21st. Rain and cloud on the horizon at sunrise blocked  sunlight from entering the chamber. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Eileen Battersby believes in miracles, but rain sees off any chance of magic in the chamber

Arthur by Rhoda Levine, illustrated by Everett Aison: one of the best children’s books ever

Eight wonderful titles from around the world to take note of and hope that Santa has room for on his sleigh

Our Literary Correspondent reveals her 30 highlights in fiction for 2015

Music, memoir and the magic of Peanuts can be found in the year’s finest factual reads

Mourn over the coffin before the mass funeral for 136 newly-identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre attended by tens of thousands of mourners in July. Photograph:Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Awful events have been powerfully captured in both fiction and non-fiction

Thomas Pakenham. Photograph: Eric Luke

A proven lover of trees describes his sylvan odyssey with breathless, anecdotal energy

 Stefan Zweig and Josef Roth in Ostende, Belgium in 1936. Photograph:  Imagno/Getty Images

If there is a single quality that explains the genius of this Austrian Jewish journalist, it is his ‘refined fury’

Set largely around modern Seoul, the action also includes excursions into a dense and vividly described countryside

A South Korean novel of a dysfunctional family is poignant and surprisingly delicate

In his latest novel, Oleg Pavlov brilliantly balances black humour with poignancy

Patrick Süskind, German author of the sinister bestseller ‘Perfume’, has written a delicately nostalgic novel that is a surprise a(...)

On the Ramblas: Josep Maria de Sagarra in Barcelona in 1950. Photograph: Francesc Català-Roca

There are no morals or heroes in this rampant portrayal of a throbbing, disappearing Barcelona

German writerJenny Erpenbeck. Photograph:  Andree/ullstein bild via Getty

Impressive show for German language writers with 11 titles among 160 nominated

At last comes a work which will be required reading within and beyond the Balkans

Walter Kempowski: his life in Nazi Germany shapes his writing. Photograph: Klar/Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

Vicious reality of war is reflected in life in a manor house passed by those fleeing conflict

Tom Hiddleston as Henry V in  a BBC production. Photograph: Nick Briggs/BBC

Eileen Battersby reflects on how conflict has inspired great literature, from Milton to Tolstoy, and among the greatest is Henry V(...)

Published a century after it was written, the fate of Schnitzler’s novel echoes that of its hero, writes Eileen Battersby

Playwright Arthur Miller with wife Marilyn Monroe. File photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

The celebrated playwright was born 100 years ago today in Harlem, New York

This wise German novel, set over decades in a remote mountain village, is tender, evocative but never sentimental, writes Eileen B(...)

Richard Ellmann on Oscar Wilde: “He belongs more to our world than to Victoria’s. Now beyond the reach of scandal, his best writings validated by time, he comes before us still, a towering figure, laughing and weeping, with parables and paradoxes, so generous, so amusing, so right.” Photograph: Napoleon Sarony/Getty Images

Eileen Battersby pays tribute to one of the world’s greatest writers on the 161st anniversary of his birth, assessing his literary(...)

Marlon James: has become the first Jamaican writer to carry off the award – with   his third work. Photograph: PA

‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ is based on attempt to kill reggae king Bob Marley

 Svetlana Alexievich the 2015 Nobel literature winner, waves  after a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, yesterday.  The judges described her work “a monument to suffering and courage.” Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP Photo

Eileen Battersby: Belarusian author is a witness with a profound grasp of humanity

Andrés Barba: his novel ‘possesses disarming genius and complex layers of truth, heightened by glimpses of understanding accompanied by near panic’.

August, October is beyond impressive, it is the real thing, a study of how the mind and memory attempts to make sense of emotion a(...)

Brian Friel “was fatherly, kind, practical and funny. He seemed to look deep into the centre of things.” File photograph:  Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

‘Our world is better for having had Brian Friel in it and now seems a lot smaller’

A mix of travelogue and memoir, anecdote and specialist study, this meditation on a mineral, by the author of ‘The Hare With Amber(...)

From the Archive: Reports, previews and photographs from 1930’s National Ploughing Championship reports. Photograph: The Irish Times

From the archives: On the last day of the 1996 national championships, Eileen Battersby looks ahead to the world competition and t(...)

Canadian author’s wry voice shines through her grim tale

Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life (Picador)

‘Big’ may have seduced Man Booker 2015 judges, while Anne Enright left on longlist

The fourth and final novel in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet is frustrating and exhausting, but also haunting thanks to her t(...)

Salman Rushdie, outside the main branch of the New York Public Library. Photograph: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Salman Rushdie’s satanically batty fantasy throws up his usual brew of Islamic mythology, pop culture, the grotesque, the baroque(...)

Patrick deWitt. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Review: Gormenghast meets The Grand Budapest Hotel, with guest appearances from Kafka at his most lighthearted, in this playfully (...)

Review: Far better novels come to mind while reading this dull, talky and predictable exposé of global surveillance, writes Eileen(...)

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