Members of Capt Robert Scott’s party discover the tent of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen at the South Pole in January 1912. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

Debut by Catalan multimedia artist is brisk philosophical narrative with sharp set pieces

William Gay: the self-educated, Vietnam veteran’s pleasure in language is frequently a thing of beauty. Photograph: MacAdam/Cage Publishing

William Gay’s Dickensian feel for character makes even this rambling story surge with life

 Virginie Despente: sequel  continues her picaresque tour de force with the same driving energy. Photograph: Thoman Samson AFP/Getty Images

This fast-flowing sequel continues the search for hero Vernon, who is in full-blown freefall

 Singer-songwriter Paul Simon at the  RDS in Dublin: As always   he was  accompanied by a brilliant band of world-class musicians. Photograph: James Forde

Songs sung a thousand times lose none of their mystique at Paul Simon's farewell concert in Dublin

Paul Simon: the most subtle of cerebral US singer-songwriters performs for the last time in Ireland at the RDS, Dublin. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

Paul Simon’s last Irish concert the RDS Dublin will be an intense, emotional evening

Michael Ondaatje: his novel unfolds in prose of breathtaking lyric and muscular beauty. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

From the archive: Eileen Battersby’s review of ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje, originally published on September 12th, (...)

Canadian-Sri Lanka author Michael Ondaatje speaks after being named the winner of the Golden Man Booker for his novel 'The English Patient' at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on Sunday. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA

Special accolade celebrates 50th anniversary of the literary prize

 Michael Ondaatje in the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire, is shortlisted for The English Patient, which won in 1992. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Eileen Battersby weighs up the shortlist for Sunday’s award to mark 50 years of the prize

For readers Anne Tyler is a life force; for writers she is simply the best. Photograph: Getty Images

Her 22nd novel, ‘Clock Dance’, is not just very good. It reminds readers of the Founding Fathers’ core values

Virginie Despentes: For all the frenzy and set pieces, the caustic exchanges and wry asides, Despentes displays impressive control. Photograph: Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images

Bold and sophisticated, this thrilling, magnificently audacious picaresque is about France and is also about all of us

Actress Nicole Kidman in the film version of ‘Portrait of a Lady’

If Banville succeeds in making readers return to Henry James, this lively enterprise will prove a useful and generous gesture to a(...)

Drawing of Edward Lear, right, with one of his characters. Image: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Jenny Uglow gets to grips with the Victorian poet, painter and polished letter writer

Salman Rushdie’s latest novel The Golden House has many creaking digressions. Photograph:  David Levenson/Getty Images

Review: The Golden House is a messy soap opera full of cliche and sexism, writes Eileen Battersby

 Patrick McGrath: Not since Kazuo Ishiguro’s 1989 Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day has this period of history been as effectively explored. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images

Patrick McGrath’s 10th novel is set in bleak postwar London, and steeped in greasepaint

Six of the best?: The Man Booker prize 2017 shortlisted books. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

The selection is playfully perverse, not to mention the failure to elevate Mike McCormack and Sebastian Barry to the shortlist

Turkish Nobel laureate author Orhan Pamuk  at his desk at his house in Istanbul, Photograph:   Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty

The Red-Haired Woman represents a poor effort at a shambolic narrative

Among the best short story writers (top row): John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver; (Bottom row): Ron Rash, Flannery O’Connor and Richard Ford

From Cheever to Ron Rash, Carver to Eudora Welty, O’Connor to Richard Ford, some of the finest American writing is to be found in (...)

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

 Margaret Laurence meets a fan at a children’s book shop. Photograph: Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Protagonist Rachel tells the story of a life in limbo. Although tender, it is never sentimental

Cheers to Canada on Canada Day: Canadian writer Alistair Macleod, who writes with an unforced balance of instinct and wisdom. Photograph:  Steve Russell/Toronto Star/ Getty Images

There’s more to Canadian literature than the wonderful Alice Munro

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

Adam Thorpe: Novelists don’t have to be accomplished poets, yet it clearly helps.

Adam Thorpe is a very good storyteller with an inspired feel for ordinary detail

José Eduardo Agualusa: an original whose international reputation was secured in 2007 with the success of the English-language edition of The Book of Chameleons

A General Theory of Oblivion tells the story of a traumatised woman who retreats from the world during Angola’s civil war

Eileen Battersby’s recommendations for well-read Dads

Israeli author David Grossman who won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize with   A Horse Walks Into a Bar. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli author takes prize for A Horse walks into a Bar, in which a foul-mouthed Jewish comic is in meltdown

The six shortlisted titles

Eileen Battersby surveys the shortlist of six titles ahead of tonight’s awards ceremony

Author Daniel Kehlmann.  He exploded on the literary scene with his fifth novel, Measuring the World. Photograph:  Sven Paustian

Daniel Kehlmann is a formidable observer with a flair for articulating dysfunctional behaviour

 Richard Ford: ‘No one listens to writers in America. Not anymore’

US writer Richard Ford on Trump, the state of America and his memoir about his parents

Naomi Alderman,  winner of the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for The Power. Photograph:Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images

Naomi Alderman’s novel features women who are able to kill with a single touch

Arundhati Roy: Her new novel is at least  less ponderous than her overrated debut, ‘The God of Small Things’, which won the Booker Prize in 1997. Photograph: Getty Images

The Booker winner’s polemical instinct is far more developed than her art, says Eileen Battersby

'Alexis Jenni’s debut novel ‘The French Art of War’ echoes Camus.'

‘The French Art of War’ review: bold, brave, wayward and magnificent

British stretcher bearers carry a wounded soldier in the clinging mud of Passchendaele. Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

The most merciless enemy was the foul mud and with it the stink of wet rotting bodies

Richard Ford as a child with his parents, Parker and Edna. Photograph: courtesy of Richard Ford

Between Them review: A new work from one of the finest writers of our times

Laurent Binet: equal measures of panache and daring. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Laurent Binet follows up ‘HHhH’ with an even funnier tale, but Delphine de Vigan struggles with her suspenseless thriller

Amos Oz: Read first, ask questions later. Photograph: George Etheredge/The New York Times

Amos Oz returns to rougher roots with this deeply felt novel, writes Eileen Battersby

Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin: author of Fever Dream, which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International prize. Photograph: Miguel Bellido/GDA/AP

This daring, ambiguous thriller is an apocalyptic lamentation for a world in free fall

US writer Rick Bass: He is informed and very aware of both the insignificance of man in the natural world, and of the damage he wreaks

Rick Bass’s generous volume includes new work and selected stories from past 30 years

 Poet turned author: Conor O’Callaghan, right, with Frank McGuinness and Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin   in County Hall, Dún Laoghaire. Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography

With its borderland setting, Conor O’Callaghan’s masterful debut calls to mind Ireland’s Disappeared

Vivek Shanbhag: author of Ghachar Ghochar. Photograph: Hari Prasad Nadig/Flickr

Vivek Shanbhag family tale is one of the finest literary works you will ever encounter

Ayobami Adebayo: her novel  does not change so much as evolve, with an impressive emotional intelligence. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Stay With Me review: Ayobami Adebayo’s enthralling debut strikes deep from outset

Veteran Amos Oz, along with favourite Mathias Énard and Argentine outsider Samanta Schweblin, in line for prize

Tim Parks: The British novelist has published consistently excellent and at times outstanding fiction since 1985.

Humour and tenderness make for the finest book yet by underrated novelist Tim Parks

 Anne Enright’s ‘The Green Road’ is the only Irish book on the International Dublin Literary Award shortlist. Photograph: Alan Betson

‘The Sympathizer’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen is favourite on strong international shortlist

Wolfgang Herrndorf’s dialogue stands equal to that of William Gaddis and Thomas Pynchon

Wolfgang Herrndorf’s brilliant, anarchic, darkly comic thriller is a true original

 Madeleine Thien and the cover of her book, ‘Do Not Say We Have Nothing’. ‘This is a brave, bold and intelligent novel, weighty with a sense of responsibility.’ File photograph: Man Booker Prize/PA Wire

Three British writers among contenders as some big names omitted from final list

Mathias Énard: the French novelist has an uncanny gift for merging the glories of the past with the ravages of the present. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty

Reading Mathias Énard’s novel is like wandering into an exotic sweet shop, writes Eileen Battersby

Greeting from Company K: “Dear Madam, Your son, Francis, died needlessly in Belleau Wood . . . At the time of his death he was crawling with vermin and weak from diarrhea.” Photograph: European/FPG/Getty

On the centenary of the US entry into the First World War, Eileen Battersby revisits William March's stark classic

Exercise books: medal-winning sports stories

From boxing to racing and from fact to fiction, a personal selection of the greatest stories about sport

Emmanuel Carrère: his wayward flair is brilliantly supported by his intellectual range and towering ego. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty

The maverick French writer reimagines Christianity’s beginnings in a madly magical novel

 Derek Walcott  in Saint Malo, France, in 1993. Photograph:  Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

The Nobel laureate was funny, explosively opinionated, playful and occasionally outrageous

Longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International prize:  Israeli author Amos Oz. Photograph: Dan Porges/Getty Images

Four potential Nobel literature laureates are in the running for the €57,000 prize

Sabahattin Ali: overlooked novel resonated with new generation in Turkey.   Photograph Filiz Ali

The daughter of Sabahattin Ali, author of surprise bestseller Madonna in a Fur Coat, recalls the day he died

Author Ross Raisin: his novel centres on the moment when dreams of sporting greatness falter into embarrassment. Photograph: Angus Muir

Ross Raisin’s slow-moving third novel struggles to portray a terrified young soccer player

Eimear McBride is represented in the competition by her second novel ‘The Lesser Bohemians’. Photograph: Eric Luke

Irish author’s ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ faces competition from Atwood, Proulx and others

A brief, polemical fable that puts the reality of the refugee crisis into sharp relief

Casey Affleck: Manchester by the Sea performance deserves the best actor Oscar. Photograph: Emily Andrews/The New York Times

Does one have to be without sin, stain or misdemeanour to earn an Oscar?

Knut the famous polar bear  at Berlin’s zoo. He died suddenly and prematurely  in 2011, at the end of what animal welfare groups said was an unhappy, short life. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Yoko Tawada’s whimsical ursine family saga expresses a powerful sense of justice

Viet Thanh Nguyen: the abiding power of the eight intelligent, crafted stories that form The Refugees collection  is his reading of human nature in domestic situations. Photograph:  Oriana Koren/The New York Times

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut collection is a timely look at lives of outsiders in America

 Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

From Persuasion to Wuthering Heights, The Dead to Le Grand Meaulnes, make a date with one of these classics

László Krasznahorkai:  “The linguistic energy of Joyce . . . the cautionary vision of Kafka and the bleak humour of Beckett”. Photograph: Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images

László Krasznahorkai is the undisputed laureate of our deranged, vulnerable epoch

“The nervous systems of memory”: Lutz Seiler

Poet Lutz Seiler’s debut novel is an exciting, expansive work of German literature, writes Eileen Battersby

Another Brooklyn may be closer to young adult than Jacqueline Woodson intended. Photograph: Getty Images

Despite the obvious thematic comparisons, Woodson’s prose lacks the daunting power of Toni Morrison’s sophisticated lyricism

Ashland & Vine by John Burnside

Scottish poet’s foray into post-second World War US history is disappointingly contrived

Books for dark times...

There has been a surge in sales of George Orwell’s 1984 following Donald Trump’s election as US president

 Édouard Louis: The End of Eddy  is his story, a “deeply political account of the poverty and violence as well as the homophobic and racial tensions that exist in contemporary France”. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Édouard Louis’s intensely autobiographical novel spares no one, including the reader, writes Eileen Battersby

Nadeem Aslam: his language makes one engage with every word. Photograph: M Zhazo/Hindustan Times via Getty

Beauty is confronted by terrorism in Nadeem Aslam’s certain Man Booker contender

Maeve Brennan sitting at the fireplace. Photograph from Angela Bourke’s Maeve Brennan: Homesick at The New Yorker

Eileen Battersby reviews The Long-Winded Lady, Maeve Brennan’s New Yorker sketches, as part of our extensive coverage marking toda(...)

Poets Seamus Heaney and Anthony Cronin enjoy a light moment. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Complete and formidable literary man whose intelligence never overpowered his art

Ioana Parvulescu: Her reconstruction of Bucharest  in the 19th century is so vivid that it emerges as one of the central characters in a feel good novel busy with everyday life. Photograph: Mihai Benea

Romanian author Ioana Parvulescu has crafted a rare delight full of old world charm

Revellers celebrate during the winter solstice at  Newgrange, Co Meath. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Pilgrims to the Co Meath monument are tough and seemingly impervious to theories

The year’s best novels, collections, memoirs and translations range around the world

César Aira: Should The Seamstress and the Wind bewilder you, so much the better

César Aira’s fantastical nightmare is an elegy for the Disappeared, writes Eileen Battersby

Evald Flisar: hovers on the realist side of surreal.   Photograph: Tihomir Pinter

The Slovenian writer Evald Flisar plays with light and dark, the fantastical and the believable

Günter   Grass died, aged 87, in 2015 – on April 13th, the birthday of both Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Photograph: Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images

Nobel Prize-winning author’s posthumous collection of mediations is witty and touching

Cove by Cynan Jones

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William Trevor: an Irish writer, an international writer, a great writer. Photograph: Eric Luke

Trevor was a world class writer who chronicled the lives of the forgotten, the despairing losers, the innocent and the devious, th(...)

International Dublin Literary Award longlist : 147 titles nominated by 109 libraries. Montage: Gillian Keyes

The 147 titles on the International Dublin Literary Award longlist are a treasure trove of great reading

The seven Irish books on the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award longlist

John Banville, Kevin Barry, Sara Baume, Anne Enright, Louise O’Neill, Nuala O’Connor and Edna O’Brien on 147-strong longlist

Jon Bilbao: the author “doesn’t waste a word in a fluent, exciting narrative with as many twists as a mountain pass”

Jon Bilbao’s original, caustic revenge tragedy shows that everyone has their limits

Reunion by Fred Uhlman

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Leonard Cohen with Eddie Walsh and Constance Cassidy at the opening of the Yeats Gallery at  Lissadell in 2010

Owners of historic Sligo house recall the dream concerts the singer played in 2010

Gerard  Reve: His book, which was published in 1947, is considered by the Society of Dutch Literature to be the best Dutch novel of all time

It should be acknowledged as one of the finest studies of youthful malaise ever written

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Trumpet player Donncha McDonagh practising in St Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, Dublin, ahead of  the Lassus choir’s Remembrance Day performance on Friday night. Photograph: Alan Betson

Programme dedicated to memory of those killed on the Somme and in Easter Rising

Step one. Confusion. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

How to win the US presidency in 10 easy steps – Step one: Aim for confusion...

The media gathered beneath the US flag at a Hillary Clinton event in New York on election night. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Where to now after one of the most corrosive US presidential elections in history

Brad Watson: instinctive, tender and respectful feel for the natural world

Brad Watson’s novel of a young woman who never gives up shimmers with quiet humanity

Ida Simons:  concentration-camp survivor

Betrayal and revenge drive powerful novels by Ida Simons and Wytske Versteeg

 Israeli novelist David Grossman: “has long been a vital witness, a truth teller about his country”. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

David Grossman’s novel about a stand-up comedian is shocking, raw and eloquent

Man Booker prize 2016 winner  Paul Beatty with his book The Sellout. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

Author wins for satire on race in the US and becomes first American to win prize

Joy Williams: “Believes that writing should provoke, not comfort”. Photograph by Reg Innell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Joy Williams’s latest infrequent collection is so good we hardly know where to start raving first

Graeme Macrae Burnet: gleeful wit for a grim subject matter

Graeme Macrae Burnet’s Booker nominee is a bloody thrilling true-life crime story

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For his acceptance, Bob Dylan is giving a concert, not a reading – which says it all. Photograph: Istvan Bajzat/AFP/Getty Images

If the academy wanted to honour a music icon, Paul Simon would be a better choice

 Hans Fallada: telling his own, and Germany’s, story. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

Allan Blunden’s brilliant translation conveys the turmoil of a strange, extraordinary novel about a post-war Germany faced with th(...)

Colson Whitehead: “His prose will seduce, the humanity will move.” Photograph: Sunny Shokrae/The New York Times

Eileen Battersby says Colson Whitehead’s gripping slavery epic should be read by everyone

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. Photograoh: Maria Teresa De Luca

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

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