Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth
The Kenneth Branagh/Rob Ashford production of Macbeth for the Manchester International Festival presents an enthralling portrait of sickening, desire-fuelled ambition.
New Statesman, July 18th 2013
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of 'The Great Gatsby' by Sarah Churchwell
"There never was a good biography of a good novelist," F Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his notebooks.
Financial Times, June 14th 2013
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
Essays on occupying the space in between cultures.
Financial Times, March 29th 2013
Reviewed: Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios
The last king of Scotland
New Statesman, March 7th 2013
George Osborne: the Austerity Chancellor by Janan Ganesh
A biographer awestruck by his subject.
New Statesman, October 25th 2012
A Life of David Foster Wallace by DT Max
Though tortured by isolation and his fastidious intellect, David Foster Wallace produced work that will endure.
Financial Times, September 14th 2012
The Footballer Who Could Fly by Duncan Hamilton
How football, the working man's passion, united a father and son.
Financial Times, August 24th 2012
Canada by Richard Ford
The intrigue of Canada, this novel of crime and punishment, is not what happens and when but how and why.
Financial Times, June 2nd 2012
My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by Hank Haney
When Hank Haney declares that Tiger Woods is the "human being who’s fallen faster than anyone else in history", you forgive the hyperbole because he speaks as a sportsman.
New Statesman, May 16th 2012
The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer
In his meditation on Graham Greene, the author reflects on his own journey.
Financial Times, May 5th 2012
New Ways to Kill Your Mother by Colm Tóibín
In a series of review-essays, Colm Tóibín works away at and through his obsessions: family, homosexuality, homeland, the anxiety of influence.
Financial Times, February 17th 2012
Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens' fierce certainties make for fine polemic but they have often obscured reality.
Financial Times, September 23rd 2011
Ragnarok by AS Byatt
AS Byatt brings an apocalyptic Norse myth to England during the second world war.
Financial Times, September 2nd 2011
Now All Roads Lead to France by Matthew Hollis
Matthew Hollis pays tribute to Edward Thomas, the first world war poet who immortalised the beauty of England.
Financial Times, August 6th 2011
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
The setting of The Stranger's Child feels immediately familiar, as do the ironies – elegant people partying on the edge of the abyss.
Financial Times, June 24th 2011
Masque of Africa by V S Naipaul
At its best, V S Naipaul’s Masque of Africa is marked by moments of startling clarity and insight — but the author’s view of his subject is that of an old man.
New Statesman, September 6th 2010
Solar by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan excels at climate science but his one-dimensional protagonist makes you shudder.
The Observer, March 14th 2010
The Humbling by Philip Roth
Sex, death, loneliness, old age: yes, it's another Roth novel. But this time, is the great American author merely repeating himself?
New Statesman, October 29th 2009
The Last Bachelor by Jay McInerney
Jay McInerney's bright lights may have been dimmed but sex in the city remains a constant source of satire, writes Jason Cowley.
The Observer, January 11th 2009
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
In investigating what sets geniuses apart, is Malcolm Gladwell also asking what makes him so special, wonders Jason Cowley.
The Observer, November 23rd 2008
Indignation by Philip Roth
Philip Roth's astounding and sustained period of late creativity has been notable for one unifying preoccupation: death.
The Observer, September 14th 2008
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
It's clear that for Murakami, running has a moral dimension.
The Observer, August 10th 2008
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri is presently probably the most influential writer of fiction in America.
Financial Times, June 9th 2008
Exit Ghost by Philip Roth
No matter which name Philip Roth chooses for his narrators or fictional alter egos, whether it is Nathan Zuckerman, David Kepesh or indeed even, slyly, Philip Roth, they invariably share many of the same urgent preoccupations.
Financial Times, October 20th 2007
Touchstones by Mario Vargas Llosa
Before our meeting, I had considered him to be something of a poseur and dilettante, a self-styled Great Man, in the classic Latin American model.
New Statesman, April 16th 2007
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin
Peter Godwin's desire to chronicle the breakdown of Zimbabwe in When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, suffers from his reluctance to spend time in the country he calls home, says Jason Cowley.
The Observer, March 4th 2007
Reporting by David Remnick
David Remnick specialises in the long literary profile and, in his hands, it is a most capacious and flexible form - the ideal form, perhaps, for our age of globalised celebrity.
New Statesman, September 18th 2006
Book reviews by Yasunari Kawabata
Elegiac and exquisite, the fictions of Yasunari Kawabata were among the most memorable of the 20th century. Jason Cowley on a writer who knew the value of silence.
New Statesman, August 21st 2006
House of Stone by Christina Lamb
Christina Lamb tells the true story of a white farmer and his black servant before and after Mugabe in her illuminating and flawed House of Stone, says Jason Cowley.
The Observer, May 14th 2006
Collected by Massive Attack
Jason Cowley traces the career of the troubled, unique collective that changed the face of British dance music.
New Statesman, March 27th 2006
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne
The first crossing of intelligent pop with strange samples still startles, writes Jason Cowley.
The Observer, March 19th 2006
Tropic Moon by Georges Simenon
For writers of colonial fiction, Africa held a dark erotic attraction, even if the message underlying their work was that Europeans have no place there.
New Statesman, January 30th 2006
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
If interest in Houellebecq's life and work remains inexorable, this is because, in many ways, the life is inextricable from the work.
New Statesman, November 7th 2005
Aerial by Kate Bush
She's still deep, if occasionally unfathomable. Jason Cowley delights in an alchemist's return.
The Observer, October 16th 2005
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie vividly explores our post-9/11 world in Shalimar the Clown, says Jason Cowley.
The Observer, September 11th 2005
The Fight by Norman Mailer
The leading character in Mailer's thrilling account of the 1974 world heavyweight boxing championship in Kinshasa - the Rumble in the Jungle - is not Muhammad Ali, as you would expect, or even his ferocious rival George Foreman, then thought by many to be unbeatable. It is not Don King... No, the main character is Norman Mailer, naturally enough.
The Observer, May 8th 2005
A Jealous Ghost by AN Wilson
AN Wilson is the latest author to succumb to the allure of Henry James in A Jealous Ghost. Why does he keep writing fiction, asks Jason Cowley.
The Observer, April 10th 2005
Campo Santo by WG Sebald
WG Sebald's last book, Campo Santo, offers further proof of his rare gift for tackling Germany's pain, says Jason Cowley
The Observer, February 27th 2005
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
In portraying individual lives tethered to the forces of history, Philip Roth's new novel revisits the themes of previous work. But it also reveals an unexpectedly benign and forgiving side, writes Jason Cowley.
New Statesman, October 11th 2004
Brief Lives by WF Deedes
I had once been scornful of Deedes, whom I imagined to be the personification of Conservative Man, but of late I had begun to read his journalism--columns, despatches from sub-Saharan Africa, countryside diaries--with intensifying respect and admiration.
New Statesman, July 26th 2004
Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
Ideal for the MTV generation, Douglas Coupland's fiction is becoming increasingly dark.
New Statesman, September 8th 2003
Lanzarote by Michel Houllebecq
Michel Houellebecq's Lanzarote portrays the author's unheroic struggle against ennui.
New Statesman, July 28th 2003
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories by Delmore Schwarz
Delmore Schwartz's precociously brilliant account of an ill-fated courtship, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, was the peak of his career.
The Observer, May 4th 2003
The Book Against God by James Wood
James Wood, Britain's most brilliant literary critic, has published a novel. Can the merciless arbiter live up to his own critical standards?
Prospect, Issue 85, April 2003
The Little Friend by Donna Tart
After more than a decade of silence, Donna Tartt is back with a new novel that draws on her childhood in the American South. Jason Cowley on the secret of her success.
New Statesman, October 28th 2002
Who's a Dandy? by George Walden
Walden, in his desire for the curious story of the life and death of Beau Brummell to become more widely known, has gone ahead and translated Barbey himself. First, however, he offers his own thoughts on dandyism in an entertaining introductory essay.
New Statesman, October 21st 2002
Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester
John Lanchester 's powers of pastiche remain undiminished in his new novel: Fragrant Harbour.
The Observer, June 30th 2002
Retrospective by Gerhard Richter
The critics are hailing Gerhard Richter as the saviour of painting in the age of conceptual populism. Jason Cowley finds out why.
New Statesman, May 6th 2002
Youth by JM Coetzee
Coetzee's gloomy hero questions life's meaning in his new novel Youth, but to little purpose.
The Observer, April 21st 2002
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
A memoir from Alexandra Fuller and a study from Martin Meredith give a timely and frightening reminder of Zimbabwe's descent into anarchy.
The Observer, February 24th 2002
Something to Declare by Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes 's love affair with France is based on a wilful fantasy.
The Observer, January 6th 2002
Mother Tongues by Helena Drysdale
Modern travel writing is in crisis, too often no more than an indulgence of ego. But the books of Helena Drysdale have a rare difference.
New Statesman, November 19th 2001
Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere by Jan Morris
Arriving in Trieste in 1909, the Viennese playwright Hermann Bahr felt as if he were "nowhere at all", adrift in a city of ghosts. Anyone visiting Trieste for the first time today may experience a similar sense of dislocation.
The Daily Telegraph, October 13th 2001
Vespertine by Bjork
Jason Cowley on why Bjork's voice is like an icepick to the heart.
New Statesman, September 17th 2001
On Histories and Stories by AS Byatt
More and more novelists are appropriating real-life characters and the events of history for fictional ends. Why? Jason Cowley on the art of literary grave-robbing.
New Statesman, December 4th 2000
Sex, Science and Self in Imperial Vienna by Otto Weininger
A misogynist and anti-Semite, the philosopher Otto Weininger was obsessed by decay. Jason Cowley on the brief life and work of a disturbed icon of Vienna.
New Statesman, August 21st 2000
Hemingway Vs. Fitzgerald by The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship by Scott Donaldson
75 years after The Great Gatsby, Jason Cowley remembers F. Scott Fitzgerald's doomed youth.
The Guardian, April 8th 2000
Diary of a man in Despair by Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen
Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen never forgave himself for not murdering Hitler when he had the chance. Jason Cowley reads the fascinating war diaries of an aristocrat and pessimist.
New Statesman, March 6th 2000
My German Question by Peter Gay
Peter Gay, the distinguished American cultural historian, has long been haunted by thoughts of a shadow life.
New Statesman, January 24th 2000
Hitler's Vienna by Brigitte Hamann
The Vienna through which Hitler wandered in his youth was a melting pot of decadent turmoil, the capital of an empire in decline - a "research laboratory for world destruction".
New Statesman, April 26th 1999
The Collected Works of Bruno Schulz by Jerzy Ficowski
To read the fiction and correspondence of Bruno Schulz, knowing that he was murdered by the Nazis, is a bit like watching footage of passengers board a plane that later crashed: you long to warn him of the dangers ahead.
New Statesman, February 12th 1999
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan is a dualist: he divides the world into conflicting opposites and makes fiction from the sparks thrown up by their collision.
The Times, September 19th 1998