Philip Hensher’s novel The Northern Clemency was shortlisted  for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. Photograph: Simon James/PA Wire

What was the first book to make an impression on you? The Wizard of Oz, and especially the very weird sequel The Marvelous Land of Oz, where th(...)

The minaret of the Mamluk 14th century Madrasa of Sarghatmish is seen through the crenellations of the Tulunid 9th century Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo. Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images

Over the past century, the Middle East has been racked by nearly constant conflict, but the frontiers of the region’s modern states have remained f(...)

Nelson Rolihlala Mandela was arguably the most respected statesman the world has seen since the end of the second World War. His dignity, his determin(...)