Stalking bestseller that split German opinion arrives in UK

Dirk Kurbjuweit’s fact-based bestselling novel asks if violence can be justified in self-defence

A remarkable German novel based on the author’s disturbing real-life experience of being stalked by a neighbour is to be published in the UK later this month.

Fear, a bestseller in Germany that was recently turned into a TV movie, is the work of Dirk Kurbjuweit, deputy editor-in-chief of the current affairs magazine Der Spiegel. In 2003, Kurbjuweit’s downstairs neighbour waged an eight-month campaign against the family, This included waiting in the hallway to shout at Kurbjuweit’s wife, Bettina, trying to get into the family flat through the garden, papering the walls in the hallway with notices accusing the couple of sexually abusing their children, and writing poems and letters addressed to them filled with fantasies of murder.

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Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles: far more than sex and swords

This saga of a courageous 15th-century Scottish nobleman, contending over six volumes with many a lethal challenge, has kept me rapt for 30 years

‘Lymond is back.” So begins The Game of Kings, the first book in my greatest literary love affair: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. I first discovered them while mooching around an empty classroom as a bored 16-year-old. There, among the dry textbooks and histories, was a tattered, much-thumbed book with a garish cover depicting a man and woman locked in passionate embrace. Intrigued, I picked it up. From the opening line, I was hooked.

Nearly 30 years later, nothing has changed. These are the books I reread through each pregnancy, the books I turn to for comfort whenever things get bad. I have owned four different sets, replacing each copy as they fall apart. Lines from all of them pop into my head at odd moments. ...

The true crime tale that merges murder and memoir – set to be summer’s ‘must-read’

Author of The Fact of a Body explains why case challenged her beliefs on the death penaltyFrom addictive podcasts such as S Town and Untold to must-watch TV from Making a Murderer to The Keepers, true crime is having something of a moment. Now a book that melds memoir and murder to tell a haunting story of abuse, deep-buried secrets and the power of mercy, has become the talk of the publishing industry and is set to be one of the hits of the summer. The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich weaves together two distinct histories: that of Ricky Langley, a paedophile who was convicted of the murder in 1992 of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory, and Marzano-Lesnevich’s abuse by her late maternal grandfather. Early reviews hail it as “a true crime masterpiece” and compare it to Truman Capote’s seminal In Cold Blood. It was, says Marzano-Lesnevich, a ...

Rome is mere ancient history as Greece comes roaring back

The darkness of the Greek legends chimes perfectly with the world’s troubled times, inspiring new novels, short stories and even a TV dramaMary Beard has cornered the market in ancient Rome. But the sun may be setting on her empire as the Greece of Plato and Sophocles is about to make a stirring comeback. Having thrilled theatregoers down the ages and formed the basis for modern soap operas, the stories of ancient Greece find themselves centre stage once again. This summer will see writers from Colm Tóibin to Natalie Haynes put a fresh spin on ancient tragedies, while Greek myths continue to inspire every thing from young adult fiction and children’s literature – the Waterstones children’s book of the month for February is Maz Evans’ riotous Who Let The Gods Out? – to urban fantasies such as Jordanna Max Brodsky’s Olympus Bound series. Even television is set to get ...

People, the final frontier: how sci-fi is taking on the human condition

The latest films and books in the genre focus on relationships as much as outer space thanks to the Tim Peake effectCall it the Tim Peake effect. Science fiction has always been as much about the human condition as saving the world from an alien invasion, but now a new wave of films and books are taking that interest one step further and developing an existentialist genre set in outer space. “The idea of putting a man on Mars is no longer a great leap of imagination,” said David Barnett, whose novel Calling Major Tom was inspired by the moment in 2015 when British astronaut Peake called the wrong number from the International Space Station. “In the 1970s and 80s, space travel felt like something out of science fiction, but now it’s part of modern life, with astronauts tweeting and going on YouTube, and because of that, putting space ...

‘She gave her mother 40 whacks’: the lasting fascination with Lizzie Borden

More than a century after a crime that gripped America, it is still a magnet for authors and film-makersHere in Britain if we know Lizzie Borden at all it’s probably as the gruesome subject of an infuriatingly catchy children’s rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an axe/And gave her mother forty whacks/When she saw what she had done/She gave her father forty one”. But that is all set to change as a host of new projects including a film, Lizzie Borden, starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, a highly anticipated debut novel, See What I Have Done, and a revival of a cult US rock musical, Lizzie, place America’s most famous probable parricide back in the spotlight again. The new projects mark the culmination of a recent surge of interest in Borden’s story almost 125 years after she first hit the headlines. In 2014 US cable channel Lifetime ...

Zadie Smith: the smart and spiky recorder of a London state of mind

The novelist has a new book, Swing Time, and a forthcoming BBC version of her acclaimed NWThere is a scene in the BBC’s adaptation of Zadie Smith’s acclaimed novel NW in which a character listens as her old school friend holds court in her tastefully decorated north-west London home. The talk is of children and schools and house prices, and in that moment the gulf between the two is seemingly laid bare, one listening in disbelief at how far the other has travelled from the council estate they once called home. Yet behind that confident facade, the other woman is no less unsure about her place in the world, about the increasingly white and upper-middle-class world she moves in, about the part of London she still calls home that is inexorably changing day by day. It’s both a painfully acute dissection of how the bonds of old friendship bind ...