Barack Obama: the role of stories to unify – as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalise – is more important than ever. Photograph: Damon Winter/The New York Times

Last Friday, seven days before his departure from the White House, Obama sat down in the Oval Office and talked about the indispensable role that boo(...)

The man’s impetuousness, his shooting his mouth off, must horrify Americans accustomed to some dignity in their commander-in-chief. But they have voted for a joker, an entertainer-in-chief. They must now take the baggage that comes with it. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP

Did he really mean it? The mushroom cloud that has risen over American democracy is a question mark. Did Donald Trump mean the hatred, the belligerenc(...)

‘Han Kang’s The Vegetarian is the finest book on a very good shortlist.’

Misgivings aside about amalgamating two important literary prizes appear to have been silenced by the newly reconstituted award’s inaugural shortlist.(...)

International Dublin Literary Award: the 10 books on the shortlist

First the good news: the judging panel of the International Dublin Literary Award is to be congratulated on including in this year’s shortlist, which (...)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl: the tipping point in twee’s recent starry rise?

What do Belle & Sebastian, Lena Dunham, Peanuts the cartoon, Portlandia, artisan pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kitten(...)

Brian Conaghan’s advice to aspiring authors: “If you can’t handle oodles of rejections then best to pack it in now. Otherwise, stop talking about wanting to write that book of yours and just do it”

Brian Conaghan was born in 1971 and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge. He gained a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the Universit(...)