• 10 novels to help you beat the Brexit blues
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    The Independent

    10 novels to help you beat the Brexit blues

    Or you could just shut the curtains, pour yourself a gin and tonic, and curl up with a good book. The soothing power of literature is well documented: there’s a reason shellshocked soldiers were prescribed Jane Austen. Add the specific kind of dry humour or madcap whimsy that so many English-language writers excel at and you have the perfect fix for the January – or Brexit – blues.

  • The Fall and Rise of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain review: An enriching read from the Bake Off winner
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    The Independent

    The Fall and Rise of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain review: An enriching read from the Bake Off winner

    When Nadiya Hussain’s first novel, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters, came out in January 2018, it was deemed “lovely”, “funny” and “breezy”. Adding to that is the fact that Hussain is best known as the winner of the 2015 edition of The Great British Bake Off. Or that The Fall and Rise of the Amir Sisters, like the first book in the series, is ghostwritten by author Ayisha Malik, whom Hussain thanks in her acknowledgements.

  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield review: A tale of loss that has a dazzling beauty
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    The Independent

    Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield review: A tale of loss that has a dazzling beauty

    Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, came out in 2006 to wide acclaim. Once Upon a River continues to demonstrate her mastery of the Gothic genre in a way that will appeal to modern readers. It all begins at an inn, the Swan at Radcot (about 20 miles from Oxford, where Setterfield lives), on the evening of a winter's solstice in the 19th century.

  • Kabuki: The traditional Japanese theatre transformed by technology
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    The Independent

    Kabuki: The traditional Japanese theatre transformed by technology

    With roots in early 17th century Japan, the traditional form of Japanese theatre know as kabuki has been entertaining audiences for hundreds of years. With the introduction of modern technology such as earphones providing translations during live performances and western-style seating in the larger venues, kabuki is now reaching international audiences.

  • Why Marie Kondo needs to remember that our books tell us who we are
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    The Independent

    Why Marie Kondo needs to remember that our books tell us who we are

    “Books do furnish a room.” I’ve used this expression while making a small sigh of pleasure, having corralled my collection into various shelves and bookcases, instead of leaving them piled up by my bed. The phrase seems to have originated with Anthony Powell – or rather, with his fictional creation, the hack Lindsay Bagshaw, who uses it to mock pretentious collectors. Bagshaw and his creator might find an unlikely ally in the decluttering superstar, Marie Kondo.

  • True Detective review: Mahershala Ali is compelling, but he's let down by this bloated drama
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    The Independent

    True Detective review: Mahershala Ali is compelling, but he's let down by this bloated drama

    At the start of its third series, it is clear that True Detective, HBO’s noirish procedural drama, is dogged by that old entertainment dilemma: do you give the audience more of what they liked before, or try something new? In the programme’s debut run, the buddy-ish relationship between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s detectives helped leaven the gloom as they investigated macabre crimes in Louisiana. For its second season, it swapped the stars for Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, and the setting for Los Angeles.

  • Lock of Marilyn Monroe's hair on sale for £12,800
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    The Independent

    Lock of Marilyn Monroe's hair on sale for £12,800

    A lock of Marilyn Monroe’s is selling for $16,500 (£12,800) - 60 years after it was cut from the actress’s head. The clipping of hair, estimated to be about 35 strands, comes from the collection of Monroe’s hair stylist, Kenneth Battelle, TMZ first reported. The set is complete with a dated piece of paper from Battelle, Monroe’s hair stylist from 1958 until her death.

  • True Detective season 3: Can the show that refused to play by the rules return to its former greatness?
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    The Independent

    True Detective season 3: Can the show that refused to play by the rules return to its former greatness?

    This was the formula that, five years ago, turned season one of HBO’s True Detective into an instant phenomenon. It is also, by remarkable coincidence, the framing device for season three – debuting belatedly on HBO in the United States on Sunday, and on Sky Atlantic in the UK on Monday. In 2014, the deathly serious detective was Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle, a pony-tailed amateur philosopher unable to walk away from a murderous conspiracy he had uncovered in deepest Louisiana decades earlier.

  • ‘Hollywood gets queer stories wrong’: Should straight actors play gay characters on screen?
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    The Independent

    ‘Hollywood gets queer stories wrong’: Should straight actors play gay characters on screen?

    Since the turn of the century, no fewer than 25 actors have been Oscar nominated for playing LGBT+ roles. Benedict Cumberbatch as computer programmer Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014), and Timothée Chalamet for the woozy, coming-of-age drama Call Me by Your Name (2017). Of those 25 actors, not a single one was openly queer.

  • Why is reading in the pub so enjoyable? In praise of a very British pastime
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    The Independent

    Why is reading in the pub so enjoyable? In praise of a very British pastime

    One of my favourite pastimes is reading in pubs. It’s as pleasant on a lively Friday as it is in Sunday morning solitude. It even transcends the seasons: you can get as much pleasure from a summery thriller raced through in a beer garden as you can from a cosy Victorian whodunit read by the fireplace as icy winds batter the pub door.

  • Catastrophe review: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan are utterly at home together
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    The Independent

    Catastrophe review: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan are utterly at home together

    Relief all round, then, that Catastrophe (Channel 4), returning for its fourth and final series, manages to wring as much vicarious pleasure as it does from the various miseries of Rob (Rob Delaney) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan), who write and star in this definitively sardonic exploration of modern professional middle-class, early-middle-aged life.

  • Silent Witness review: A bad example of the forensic thriller genre
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    The Independent

    Silent Witness review: A bad example of the forensic thriller genre

    What kind of a criminal mind devises a modus operandi that involves toilet-based, cold-blooded murder? It’s not supposed to be The Two Ronnies, I grant you, but it is eerie how no one, but no one, ever cracks a smile on Silent Witness. It’s carefully documented by our team of superheroes, returning for a 22nd series of arterial blood-spattered adventures: Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), Jack Hodgson (David Caves), Clarissa Mullery (Liz Carr) and Dr Thomas Chamberlain (Richard Lintern).

  • 8 best self-care books
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    The Independent

    8 best self-care books

    “Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can be very useful in helping us manage the symptoms of many mental health problems,” says Rachel Boyd from mental health charity Mind. All released within the past two years, these self-care books range from moving memoirs with handy tips woven throughout to practical pocket guides filled with interactive exercises.

  • Freefall by Jessica Barry, review: A scintillating thriller that breathes life into every word
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    The Independent

    Freefall by Jessica Barry, review: A scintillating thriller that breathes life into every word

    Up until recently, Melissa Pimentel was an author of romance novels. Then, Pimentel wrote a thriller, and it was so different from anything she had published before that she needed a new name. Thus, Jessica Barry was born – and with her, one of the first great novels of the year.

  • Golden Globes: People surprised by Christian Bale's British accent during acceptance speech
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    The Independent

    Golden Globes: People surprised by Christian Bale's British accent during acceptance speech

    Musical or Comedy at the 2019 Golden Globes, but it was his accent that stood out. While thanking Satan for the inspiration required for his role in Vice during his speech, Bale spoke with a British accent – to the surprise of many viewers who were not aware that the actor is originally from Haverfordwest, Wales. On Twitter, viewers expressed their shock over Bale's "real" voice and birth place, possibly because the actor's numerous past roles as American characters, including the award-winning Dick Cheney, and compared him to other notable British actors.

  • Golden Globes 2019: Viewers think Mark Ronson took Lady Gaga's spotlight during acceptance speech for 'Shallow'
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    The Independent

    Golden Globes 2019: Viewers think Mark Ronson took Lady Gaga's spotlight during acceptance speech for 'Shallow'

    Lady Gaga's Golden Globes acceptance speech for Best Original Song has viewers confused – as co-writer Mark Ronson did most of the speaking. After Taylor Swift announced Gaga as the winner of the award for "Shallow" from A Star is Born, the singer began to cry as she took the stage alongside Ronson. Ronson took the moment to accept the award on the team's behalf, which also included Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando.

  • Sandra Oh gives emotional speech during Golden Globes monologue: 'A moment of change'
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    The Independent

    Sandra Oh gives emotional speech during Golden Globes monologue: 'A moment of change'

    Following a speech filled with jokes, Sandra Oh took a moment to be serious during her opening monologue alongside Andy Samberg at the 2019 Golden Globes. Pointing out the increase in racial and gender representation at this year’s awards, the actor, who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress – TV Drama for Killing Eve, told the crowd that she said yes to hosting despite her “fear” because she wanted to “witness this moment of change”. In addition to having the first Asian American host in Globes history, this year’s awards include nominations for films such as Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and If Beale Street Could Talk.

  • Golden Globes: People think Lady Gaga paid tribute to Judy Garland with her stunning dress
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    The Independent

    Golden Globes: People think Lady Gaga paid tribute to Judy Garland with her stunning dress

    Lady Gaga’s choice of gown for the Golden Globes may be more meaningful than she first realised – as it resembles an outfit worn by Judy Garland in the 1954 version of A Star is Born. Gaga, who is nominated for Best Actress for her role as Ally in 2018's remake, arrived on the red carpet wearing a custom lilac Valentino gown with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a train. In the 1950s version of A Star is Born, Garland, playing a rising star named Esther, wore a pale blue gown with a shrug and long gloves.

  • Why Fahrelnissa Zeid is considered 'one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century'
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    The Independent

    Why Fahrelnissa Zeid is considered 'one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century'

    Google is remembering the talented artist Fahrelnissa Zeid today with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 118th birthday. Born in Istanbul, Turkey on January 7 in 1901, Zeid began displaying a talent for painting when she was young - and later became one of the first women to attend the art academy in Istanbul. It was this opportunity, and her experiences later in life that inspired Zeid in her art - most recognisably, large-scale abstract kaleidoscope paintings influenced by Islamic and Byzantine art.

  • Who was Fahrelnissa Zeid? Google Doodle celebrates pioneering Turkish abstract artist
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    The Independent

    Who was Fahrelnissa Zeid? Google Doodle celebrates pioneering Turkish abstract artist

    Google’s latest Doodle celebrates the life of Fahrelnissa Zeid, the renowned Turkish artist best known for blending Islamic and Byzantine traditions with influences from the West. Monday marks the 118th anniversary of Ms Zeid’s birth.

  • Les Misérables review, episode two: Lily Collins plays the tragic Fantine with steeliness and grace
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    The Independent

    Les Misérables review, episode two: Lily Collins plays the tragic Fantine with steeliness and grace

    “I always like to trace motivations to sex,” Dominic West, who plays the wronged, reformed hero Jean Valjean in BBC One’s Les Misérables, said recently. Crass it may be, but there is an intense, scorching energy between Valjean, who did 19 years of hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread, and Javert, who spent those same 19 years making his life a misery. “You astonish me,” he says to Valjean at one point in tonight’s second episode, as puzzlement, anger, sorrow and respect flit across his face.

  • ‘I am not an easy sell’: After decades of supporting roles, how Sandra Oh finally hit her stride
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    The Independent

    ‘I am not an easy sell’: After decades of supporting roles, how Sandra Oh finally hit her stride

    For the past 30 years, Sandra Oh has been stealing every scene she’s in. Whatever role she is given – a bitter, single friend in romantic comedy Cake (2005), a fawning vice principal in The Princess Diaries (2001), a one-minute appearance as a grieving porn star in morbid TV drama Six Feet Under – her vibrant energy demands the kind of attention usually reserved for the biggest Hollywood stars.

  • 8 best books about autism
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    The Independent

    8 best books about autism

    Despite last year's British book sales income being five per cent up from the previous year – the emerging market for books about autism, written by and for autistic people, tends to be overlooked. Mainstream imprints are publishing many more autistic authors as of late, according to Laura James, autistic author of Odd Girl Out. From memoirs to fiction, these reads were judged based on how easily understood they were by people on the autistic spectrum, as well as how knowledgeable and accepting they were of the condition, I made sure they did not include any ableist content.

  • Is the decline of the vowel a sign that language is evolving?
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    The Independent

    Is the decline of the vowel a sign that language is evolving?

    The first step in the next stage of language’s inevitable evolution – or devolution – may have already hppnd. What we might call the Modern Vowel Massacre seems to have begun sometime in the early Noughties, when the band MGMT found some indie-rock fame.

  • Hollywood's Eve by Lili Anolik, review: Eve Babitz biography is a hot mess, but then so was its subject in her heyday
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    The Independent

    Hollywood's Eve by Lili Anolik, review: Eve Babitz biography is a hot mess, but then so was its subject in her heyday

    In 1961, a precocious young artist named Eve Babitz wrote a letter to Catch-22 novelist Joseph Heller, seeking help getting her book published. “Dear Joseph Heller,” it began, “I am a stacked 18-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. Heller wanted to see more (of the book) and, when he got it, sent the manuscript to his publisher, who also wanted to see more (of the book).