I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Issue 59, Sept 1st, 2014

Epiphanies and Voids

Attention to the apparently insignificant is a particular feature of Japanese art. It is an aspect of Zen’s emphasis on giving attention not to theory or to abstract truth, but to concrete, existing reality, the here and now.

Leaping into Darkness

After a decade of modest growth, in 1958 the Chinese authorities launched the Great Leap Forward, a reckless campaign aimed at greatly accelerating economic development. What resulted was, in terms of the number of its victims, the greatest famine ever.

God is Dead, Long Live Religion

According to Terry Eagleton, the history of the modern age is among other things the search for a viceroy for God. Yet it has been difficult for any substitute to emulate religion’s success, to bridge the gap, as it does, between high and low, elite and masses, rarefied ideas and common practice.

Tell me about your Mother

Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s new novel portrays the challenge of being both mother and artist, its most interesting character an emotionally abusive alcoholic for whom motherhood has not been enough and who dares to suggest it is possible for a mother to feel ambivalence toward her child.

The word from the trenches

On its publication in book form in Germany in 1929, this great anti-war novel met with both critical and popular success. But in 1933 it was to receive the ultimate accolade when it was tossed onto the bonfires by Nazi students from Berlin’s Humboldt University, along with the works of Heine, Marx, Einstein and the Mann brothers.

Hanging Out With The Molecules

The early 1950s voyages of William S Burroughs to Peru led to his discovery of the hallucinogenic vine yagé and issued in a book of notes and letters to his friend Allen Ginsberg in which he presented himself not only as a mystic and spiritual quester but also as a whistleblower on the activities of the Cold War superpowers.

The Big Smoke

A comprehensive new study of Ireland’s capital bridges social and cultural, political, economic, educational, administrative, demographic, maritime, infrastructural and architectural histories of the city and deals as easily with the world of the locked out and the urban poor as it does with the Kildare Street Club, the Shelbourne and Jammet’s