Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting, ‘Las Meninas’
©The Gallery Collection/Corbis

Michael Jacobs’ pursuit of genius

Simon Schama on the writer’s unfinished voyage around Velázquez’s masterpiece ‘Las Meninas’

The ruins of Urakami Cathedral, Nagasaki, following the atomic bomb in 1945
©Bernard Hoffman/Getty Images

‘Nagasaki’, by Susan Southard

A study that explores the legacy of the 1945 bombing through the lives of five survivors. Review by Eri Hotta

Illustration of a lioness
©Clare Mallison

‘Confession of the Lioness’, by Mia Couto

An intense experimental novel by the Man Booker International longlisted novelist

Cover of 'Politics in Commercial Society'

‘Politics in Commercial Society’, by István Hont

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith are more aligned than we often assume. Review by Duncan Kelly

Cover of 'The Whispering Swarm'

‘The Whispering Swarm’, by Michael Moorcock

A novel that celebrates the pleasures of postwar London. Review by James Lovegrove

Cover of 'A Literary Tour of Italy'

‘A Literary Tour of Italy’, by Tim Parks

Essays on Italy’s literature and politics are lucid and erudite. Review by Ian Thomson

Cover of 'An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It'

‘An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk’ by Jessie Greengrass

A debut short-story collection ranges from 16th-century alchemy to call-centre ennui. Review by Catherine Taylor

Mark Sanford in 2009, after admitting his extramarital affair
©Davis Turner/Getty Images

‘The Speechwriter’, by Barton Swaim

Politicians may depend on speechwriters but they do not necessarily listen to their advice, writes Edward Luce

England’s Simon Jones celebrates a wicket in the 2005 Ashes series
©Action Images

Britain’s finest sporting moments

Matthew Engel on cricket, and the nation’s sometimes troubled relationship with its sporting heroes

©James Leynse/New York Times/Eyevine

‘Notes on the Death of Culture’, by Mario Vargas Llosa

A provocative essay collection from the Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Review by Adam Feinstein