Will Self: ‘The novel is absolutely doomed’

The award-winning author, currently writing a memoir of his early years, on reading digitally and why he’s making a list of the female greats

Will Self is the author of 10 novels, five collections of short stories and several works of nonfiction, including The Quantity Theory of Insanity, Dorian and Walking to Hollywood. Phone is the final instalment of the trilogy that began with Umbrella and Shark and is out now in paperback (Viking, £8.99).

Phone is the last in a 1,500-page trilogy that, loosely, tells the story of psychiatrist Zack Busner, who’s been around in your fiction for a long time. Prominent also are technological advances and the ramifications of conflict. Would it be fair to say there’s a lot going on?
I cover the inception of these new technologies, I cover Alzheimer’s, autism, war, feminism, and what I tend to get back in return is, ooh, ...

Book clinic: what titles might help children deal with grief?

The Bookseller’s children’s and YA previews editor selects three titles offering a variety of perspectives on bereavement

Q: What books do you recommend for children aged four and up to prepare for, and deal with, a death in the family? What are the best kids’ books on grief?
Postdoctoral student, two book-loving kids (four and eight) and a terminally ill, much beloved relative

A: Fiona Noble, children’s and young adult previews editor for the Bookseller and member of 2017 Costa book awards judging panel
Talking about death can be overwhelming for adults; where to start with a child? Books are an invaluable way to open dialogue. Rebecca Cobb’s Missing Mummy is a straightforward but warm, tender look at the loss of a parent through the eyes of a small boy. Cobb excels at capturing a child’s perspective and a whole spectrum of emotions: anger and guilt, sadness and confusion. The child finds solace in being ...

Raw by Lamont ‘U-God’ Hawkins review – the gritty Wu-Tang Clan backstory

The Clan member’s hard-hitting hip-hop memoir ranges across martial arts lore, drug dealing and black Muslim self-empowerment

The rule about history being the propaganda of the victors applies just as clearly to Staten Island rap crew Wu-Tang Clan as to any other battle-ready cadre. The group’s now Hollywood-domiciled mastermind Robert Diggs (AKA RZA) has already put a down payment on posterity’s thumbs up with not one but two well written and informative volumes: a nuts-and-bolts guide, The Wu Tang Manual, and the more philosophically minded The Tao of Wu. So an alternative, bottom-up rather than top-down take on the Clan’s roughneck backstory was long overdue.

No one would call Lamont “U-God” Hawkins a Wu‑Tang also-ran – at least, not to his face – but he certainly isn’t the member of the ensemble the British public would name first in a hip-hop-themed episode of Family Fortunes. (That would be Ghostface ...

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill review – when grief and passion collide

The hard-hitting YA author makes her adult fiction debut with an exploration of sexual obsession set in post-crash Dublin

Louise O’Neill is an established writer for young adults, with a reputation for hard-hitting books tackling feminist themes. Her debut, Only Ever Yours, won plaudits for its Atwood-esque depiction of a world in which women are bred for male pleasure. The follow-up, Asking for It, addressed the gang rape of a young woman, and won children’s book of the year at the Irish book awards.

This is no bland by-numbers romance – O’Neill ventures into some interesting psychological territory

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Howard Jacobson on Manchester: ‘I lack its passion for football and Noel Gallagher’

The author celebrates the mirth and raucousness of the city that shaped him, and explains why he feels like a fraud when he calls himself Mancunian

To say I come from Manchester is shorthand. Who has the patience to listen to me tell how I was born in a nursing home in Prestbury, lived my first years in Salford, the next few in a half Yiddish-speaking shtetl called Hightown, then moved to Prestwich, a suburb famous for its psychiatric hospital? It was, and remains, easier just to say Manchester.

But I feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a Mancunian. I don’t have the Mancunian’s passion for football. Or acid house. Or Noel Gallagher. Or going out in a short-sleeved shirt in the dead of winter. I have retained the flat vowels – making missiles of words such as “bus” and “basket” – but wish I hadn’t. I talk ...

Waiting for the Last Bus by Richard Holloway review – reflections on death and how to live

The former bishop of Edinburgh considers old age an opportunity for self-examination, in a book enriched by its breadth of cultural reference

Richard Holloway had his first taste of mortality in his 20s, when he started going bald. Though no narcissist, he hated the hair loss, and tried to reverse it with pills, then disguise it with an artful comb-over, before cropping the whole lot off. As he says, baldness is not a terminal disease but he thinks of it as “good preparation for ageing and death, the skeleton being the ultimate baldy”. Just as he grew to accept his baldness then, so now, at 80, he has come to accept that he won’t be around for ever.

For most of us, such acceptance doesn’t come easy. Humankind cannot bear very much reality: don’t ask for whom the bell tolls and maybe it won’t. What Holloway acronymises as AAPD – ...

The crisis in modern masculinity

Luridly retro ideas of what it means to be a man have caused a dangerous rush of testosterone around the world – from Modi’s Hindu supremacism to Trump’s nuclear brinkmanship

On the evening of 30 January 1948, five months after the independence and partition of India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was walking to a prayer meeting at his temporary home in New Delhi when he was shot three times, at point-blank range. He collapsed and died instantly. His assassin, originally feared to be Muslim, turned out to be Nathuram Godse, a Hindu Brahmin from western India. Godse, who made no attempt to escape, said in court that he felt compelled to kill Gandhi since the leader with his womanly politics was emasculating the Hindu nation – in particular, with his generosity to Muslims. Godse is a hero today in an India utterly transformed by Hindu chauvinists – an India in which ...