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John Lewis plagiarism row gives Christmas sales boost to Mr Underbed

After Chris Riddell pointed out the similarity of the retailer’s seasonal TV ad to his picture book, demand for the latter has rocketed

Copies of Chris Riddell’s picture book about a friendly blue monster who lives under a little boy’s bed, Mr Underbed, have sold out in the days since the former children’s laureate accused John Lewis of “help[ing] themselves” to the story for their Christmas TV ad.


Revolution by Emmanuel Macron review – what’s the big idea, Monsieur President?
The French leader’s bestseller unwittingly sheds light on his shortcomings

Emmanuel Macron is by no means the first president of France to fancy himself as a man of letters. Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand immediately come to mind as his most...

The Sex Pistols 1977: The Bollocks Diaries; Punk Is Dead, edited by Richard Cabut and Andrew Gallix – review
Two very different histories of punk help to explain why the controversial movement changed so many young people’s lives

Nothing could be less punk than commemorating its 40th anniversary. The late 70s have been commodified, just as the swinging 60s were. John Lydon is now a Brexit-praising expat (although the veteran polemicist might just have been promoting his book earlier this year). So much sputum has pas...

Bantam by Jackie Kay review – home truths from a goddess of small things
Jackie Kay depicts a world of grief, joy, love and humour in the sparest terms

This collection is a pick-me-up – fresh, upbeat and sympathetic. The tone is partly a matter of temperament. Jackie Kay writes about the past with uncommon spirit. She makes you realise how often poetry that looks backwards is written with a dead hand, how often, in memorialising verse, the unsmilingly elegiac obtains. She, by contrast, is loving, non-reverential and interested in the human predicament – in being...

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr review – the collapse of normality
Perception and reality blur in a compelling fable about otherness, anxiety and the alienating effects of illness

Reading Eley Williams’s brilliant story collection Attrib., published earlier this year, I encountered a phrase – “unheimlich manoeuvres” – that captures perfectly the most notable element of Tom Lee’s writing. He has a pronounced ability to take normal, even mund...

Behind Belle Gibson's cancer con: 'Everything about this story is extreme'

The journalists who broke the story about the wellness blogger failing to pass on charity donations describe the obstacles they hit writing their book about her

More than two years after her very public exposure and disgrace, the spectre of Belle Gibson still strikes fear into her former associates, even those who once called her their friend...

Antonia Fraser: ‘I was forced to learn typing as a punishment for being uppish’
The award-winning author on morning rituals, the importance of a pleasant break at lunchtime and why she has not worked after dinner since 1968

A close encounter with cats begins my writing day. Ferdy and Bella were originally Mayhew Animal Home rescue kittens; nowadays they have a way with technology that means that printing out overnight emails becomes a sophisticated version of cat-and-mouse. I e...

The World Goes On review – a masterpiece of fear and futility
Prizewinning Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai’s new collection of stories is ‘deeply affecting’

When the celebrated Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai and his translator, George Szirtes, won the Man Booker international prize in 2015, the judges were impressed by his “extraordinary sentences of incredible length”. Here, Krasznahorkai’s famous sentences, often sever...

EU and me: writers reminisce on their relationship with Europe

From cappuccinos to constitutional rights, Stieg Larsson to Smetana – writers reflect on what Europe means to them

I’m something of a thief, I’m afraid, and among my stolen possessions I have the score to “Vltava”, the river theme from the Czech composer Smetana’s symphonic poem Má Vlast (“my country”). This I took from school, having played the piano part in the orchestra – nobody, it seemed to me, could possibly love it as I loved it, or play it as I played it; therefore in spirit ...

‘Hot hot hot’ or not? Audible’s romance widget speeds readers to 'the good parts'

The audiobooks site’s new feature allows you to jump to the steamy bits of romantic novels. It’s a strangely unromantic gimmick

Are you looking for “flirty banter”, or a “proposal”, or are you just “hot hot hot”? Fans of romantic fiction – like me – can now get straight down to business with a new feature from Audible called “take me to the good parts”.