Two women sit among the debris in the aftermath of the German bombardment of Leningrad in 1942. Photograph: D Trakhtenberg/ Slava Katamidze Collection/ Getty Images

A year to the day before the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz, the 900-day siege of Leningrad ended. Russians remember the ordeal with proud hearts. It(...)

Primo Levi: “My Jewish identity took on a great importance following my deportation to Auschwitz. It is very likely that without Auschwitz I would never have written, and would have given only a little weight to my Jewish identity.”  He wrote in order to tell the world what happened. In time he would come to resent the literary world that regarded him not as an artist, only as witness. Photograph: Getty Images

It is an image not easily forgotten; a frail, elderly man sitting in a deep armchair. Strong sunlight fills the room. He holds up his arms as if to(...)

David Malouf: poet and storyteller, he is one of the world’s finest writers and the surest way to experience his rare art is to simply read all of his elegant, graceful work. Photograph: Michael Stuparyk / Toronto Star via Getty Images

Early in the morning of January 26th, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillips, of the First Fleet and skipper of HMS Supply, rowed into Sydney Cove, Port Jac(...)

Jenny Williams: the Dublin-based academic explored Hans Fallada’s life and motivations  in an outstanding biography, More Lives Than One, which was published in 1998 and in a revised edition drawing on additional material in 2012. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

This is the background story to the writing and eventual publication of Hans Fallada’s A Stranger in My Own Country (Polity), a memoir of life in Nazi(...)

Not just a pawn: Hans Fallada

Hans Fallada, the literary pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, was far more contradictory than any of the many characters he invented in his colourful fiction(...)

Seek out a copy of The Adventures of Shola by the Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga who wrote it in Euskera before translating the four individual stories into Spanish. Mikel Valverde’s illustrations are most expressive and the English translation comes courtesy of the great Margaret Jull Costa. If anything can succeed in hauling us through this most blue day of dark days, it is this book

Blue, blue, blue, very blue ... What’s that you’re saying? Speak up. Remove the blankets from your head. Look at me. Engage. What? So you don’t feel l(...)

Whenever critics and readers decide to engage in trade-offs about great American writers denied the attention they deserve, Denis Johnson is invariabl(...)

Photograph: Viktor Gårdsäter

It can’t be particularly easy for a man to step on a hamster, unless of course the hamster happens to be ill or unusually slow. In The Winter War no d(...)

Detail from Turner’s ‘A light in the Darkness’. Photograph: Alan Betson,

The muted lighting, the whispers and admiring sighs, the sense of privilege that hovers in the small, often crowded gallery room, are part of one o(...)

Donal McCann as Francis Hardy in the 1980 Irish premiere of ‘Faith Healer’ by Brian Friel, directed by Joe Dowling on Abbey stage. Photograph Fergus Bourke

Revered and reviled, often in equal measure, the Abbey Theatre is not only the national theatre; it reflects the cultural, political and social con(...)