‘Reading is a choice. Not only in the obvious sense of taking up a book, or taking up one book and not another, but when reading the book at hand. It’s assessing the facts of the case (even the fictional ones) and seeing some as more relevant to a satisfying reading than others.’

George O’Brien is Professor Emeritus of English at Georgetown University, Washington DC. He is author of three memoirs, The Village of Longing, Dan(...)

Edna O’Brien was reported to be “a bit stunned” to hear Drewsborough, near Tuamgraney village in east Clare,  had gone for auction, “as she had loved the place”.  Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill

The Property section of this newspaper recently reported that Edna O’Brien’s childhood home, in Co Clare, was withdrawn from auction after failing to (...)

Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The physical book may well be under threat from the digital revolution, but a growing number of crime writers have decided that books are more dangero(...)

Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

It is not easy being a dentist, day after day dealing with terrified patients, some of whom are desperate for help, others who dispute the numbers of (...)

Bounded by books: Ivan Klíma. Photograph: Tomas Krist/Isifa/Getty
The limits of dissent
  • Books
  • May 3, 2014, 01:00

On his second visit to Prague, in the spring of 1973, Philip Roth met several dissident writers, including Milan Kundera, Ivan Klíma, Ludvík Va(...)

Opposed Positions
  • Books
  • April 19, 2014, 01:00

“Did fiction do this to me?” Philip Roth’s self-reflection serves as the starting point for an exploration of the modern family as experienced by 3(...)

Egyptian supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty

‘If this is the best of all possible worlds,” asks Voltaire in his 1759 novel Candide, “what then are the others?” Just asking the question got the gr(...)

Among the legions of great Jewish jokes is the well-worn one in which a mother shrieks: “Save my son the doctor, he’s drowning!” One of the giants of (...)