William J. Maxwell: ‘Poring over novels, stories, essays, poems, and plays as well as political commentary and intercepted correspondence, the FBI acted as a kind of half-buried readers’ bureau with aboveground effects on the making of black art.’

The official and respectable inspiration behind my new book, F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, involv(...)

Jerry’s Sno Cones: a taste of the 1970s. Photograph: Chris Carmichael/New York Times
Weekend in . . . Memphis

Maybe even more Music City than Nashville, its country cousin to the east, Memphis has strong affiliations with not one musical genre but three. It(...)

Oscar winners (left to right): Best Actor in a Supporting Role JK Simmons, Best Actress in a Supporting Role Patricia Arquette, Actress in a Leading Role Julianne Moore and Actor in a Leading Role Eddie Redmayne, in the press room of the 87th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire 2:50

Alejandro G Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a dizzying tale of Broadway composed as if shot in one continuous take, has wo(...)

Ireland’s win  in Italy puts the achievements of Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in the ha’penny place.  Photograph: Ryan ByrneINPHO

Are you old enough to remember the conveyor belt on the Generation Game? No? Well, a bunch of fabulous prizes whizzed by under the contestants’ noses (...)

David Oyelowo:   “When I first read the script, in 2007, my reaction was spiritual. I felt a call of God that I was going to do this.” Photograph:  Bon Duke/New York Times 5:46

Having watched Selma, it’s impossible not to do a double take when David Oyelowo walks into the room. He is a svelte, youthful-looking 38-year-old,(...)

 ‘Influenced by Zen and eastern spirituality, Thomas Merton defined contemplation as seeking God, coming to know one’s true self, and learning one’s relationship to the world. He regarded contemplation as the highest form of awareness.’  Photograph:  Archive Photos/Getty Images

The Seven Storey Mountain, which recounts Thomas Merton’s spiritual odyssey from disbelief to faith, opens: “On the last day of January 1915, in a yea(...)

US president Barack Obama and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi  hugging each other as the US President and First Lady Michelle Obama  are greeted on their arrival at Palam airport, New Delhi. Photograph: India Press Information Bureau/EPA

In a glow of bonhomie, US president Barack Obama and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi have announced a breakthrough on nuclear trade, a step that b(...)

‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay: ‘This is art; this is a movie; this is a film. I’m not a historian. I’m not a documentarian.’ Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

I went on Friday morning to see Selma and found myself watching it in a cinema full of black teenagers. Thanks to donations, DC public school kids (...)

Mark Ronson has been on kissing terms with the cultural zeitgeist before. He worked with Amy Winehouse on Back to Black to produce an album that be(...)

Tomm Moore’s ‘Song of the Sea’ has secured a nomination for best animated feature

No Oscar pundit would, a few days ago, have flinched if he or she had been told that Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel would tie for the most nomin(...)