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Which is the greatest Jane Austen novel?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the greatest English novelists. On the 200th anniversary of her death, writers make the case for the novel closest to their hearts

Jack and Alice and other juvenilia
Charlotte Brontë did not like Jane Austen because she thought she was mimsy, with a fenced-in imagination. But the teenage Jane was ruthless, well read, exuberant and scathing. She understood the cult of sensibility, and sniggered at it...

M by Henry Hemming review – the fascist spymaster of MI5
A superb book on the naturalist turned intelligence officer discloses new information on agents within far right and communist organisations

Maxwell Knight seemed unemployable, until he found his metier in the British Secret Service in the 1920s. He was a failure as a son, a husband – he was impotent, though his third wife didn’t mind – a naval rating, a civil servant, a paint seller, a prep school games teacher and a novelist. His abiding interest was in exotic animals, ranging from spider...

Sherman Alexie's mother's ghost prompts him to cancel book tour

The author, who was promoting memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, reports that ‘spectacular’ haunting and depression have led him to cancel dates

Sherman Alexie has cancelled a tour promoting his new memoir about his relationship with his late mother, citing depression and his belief that his mother’s ghost has been haunting him since the book was published last month.

In an open letter to his readers, Alexie said that he would be canc...

Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday wins fiction’s most secretive award

The writer’s 10th novel has won the £15,000 Hawthornden prize, sponsored by arts patron Drue Heinz

Mothering Sunday, Graham Swift’s 10th novel, is a jewel of a book, a subtle, erotically charged novella suspended between past and future. It is set on one day in 1924 in the life of a young housemaid, a foundling brought up in an orphanage and put into service at 14, who is in ...

Jane Austen – teen author before her time

Far from being the epitome of genteel propriety, her earliest fiction reveals an anarchic spirit with a disdain for authority to match any modern adolescent

Teenagers had not yet been invented in the late 1780s, when the young Jane Austen began her authorial career. But the people she chose to write about in her earliest known ficti...

Milo Yiannopoulos labels low sales figures of Dangerous memoir 'fake news'

Rightwinger said his book – self-published after he was dropped by Simon & Schuster – had sold 100,000 copies, but data shows fewer than 20,000 sales

Rightwing controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos has branded reported low sales of his new book “fake news” after official figures revealed the writer has failed to rock the book charts on either side of the Atlantic, despite his claims to the contrary.

According to Nielsen Bookscan, which monitors book sales through almost all ou...

Caesar’s Last Breath: The Epic Story of the Air Around Us – review
Sam Kean’s history of Earth’s atmospheric gases is provocative and entertaining

The Scottish physician Joseph Black was responsible, in 1764, for one of science’s more unusual chemical experiments. He had already achieved fame by becoming the first scientist to isolate a pure gas: carbon dioxide, known as “fixed air” at the time. Now Black was anxious to further his work by demonstrating that the gas was exhaled by human beings.

So he looked for a place where respirations would be at ...

100 best nonfiction books: No 76 – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
This radical text attacked the dominant male thinkers of the age and laid the foundations of feminism

The term “feminism” did not exist when Mary Wollstonecraft wrote this short book (just 98pp in my Vintage Classics edition) and some critics have resisted its author’s identification with the movement. In hindsight, however, we can now see that its assault on “mistaken notions of female excellence” was the first great expression of feminist ideas. Although she does not insist on the equalit...

Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blog, and our roundup of

Hunger by Roxane Gay review – how the world treats fat people
A catalogue of horrors and public humiliations, Gay’s memoir responds to society’s condescension and disgust about her body size

This is a book its author Roxane Gay has, over many years, earned the right not to publish. Even though she has found great success as an essayist, writer of fiction and university teacher, and attracted a large, passionate online following, it’s clear from her account that her weight is still the first ...