Margaret Atwood: Shes ahead of everyone in the room

As excitement mounts for the sequel to The Handmaids Tale, we talk to publishers and writers about the great novelist The hoopla around the launch of Margaret Atwoods The Testaments is more reminiscent of the unveiling of an iPhone or something Pokmon-related than that of a mere book. On the evening of 9 September, 400 people will gather outside the doors of Waterstones Piccadilly store in London for the midnight release of the sequel to The Blind Assassin in 2000, and had five other novels shortlisted. She has yet to be given the Nobel prize for literature but that is widely seen as an error to be righted. When an embarrassed The Heart Goes Last, you may relish her wit …

Lionel Shriver returns to Australia and doubles down on ‘fascistic’ identity politics

Three years after controversial speech in Brisbane, US author denounces cultural control, obedience and conformism Three years after vowing never to return to Australia, author Lionel Shriver says she stands by her controversial keynote speech at the Brisbane writers festival in 2016, calling identity politics fascistic. Sunday night marked the American novelists first appearance in Australia since that controversial tour, despite her having released two books in the intervening years. Shrivers 2016 address on fiction and identity politics, she said she hoped the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad, received widespread backlash. Sudanese-Australian writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied walked out of the event midway, later ABCs Q&A on Monday night where she will be joined by Black Lives Matter activist …

Depth of Field: The Movie Poster Brexit Deserves

Photographs, Susan Sontag once famously wrote, “fiddle with the scale of the world.” They tell us only a distortion. They are incomplete, even as they strive to render the frame whole and exact. That does not make them false. Exactly the opposite. Photographs invite meaning, possibility. The best photos, thick with narrative, sweat. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is also true that a picture is worth a thousand more pictures. One image gives way to another. What are photographs but gateways into parallel realms, memories resurrected, passageways into the familiar? What we see, we have already seen. John MacDougall’s portrait-style capture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson—taken during …

Toni Morrison remembered: Her irreverence was godly

Leading contemporaries pay tribute to the Nobel prize-winning novelist The Bluest Eye. Its a first novel and yet astoundingly everything is there. The voices, nimbly alive, dont just mimic or signal black life, but, rather, invoke and rejoice in it. The clarity and urgency of characters is telegraphed through indelible gestures: three pennies guarded in a childs shoe, the poor hunched shoulders and tilted head of the girl Pecola, whos lived her whole short life with an internalised sense of ugly unlovability. The various forms of rage that rise up in the face of lack stand revealed, as do the barbarous social conditions in place to perpetuate such lack not just in America but everywhere that difference between people is …

From Thelma and Louise to Animals: how female friendships on screen got real

Animals is the latest film to explore womens lives in a refreshingly realistic way. Why did it take Fleabag and Girls for cinema to realise there is more to a narrative than marriage? When did you last see a film with a friendship between two women that felt real, a friendship that didnt play second fiddle to romance in the narrative arc, that was not trampled over or cast aside in the quest for true love? Love stories about female friends are vanishingly rare. But this summer, Olivia Wildes gorgeous coming-of-age story Booksmart arrived on screen. Now comes Animals, the director Sophie Hydes hedonistic Irish comedy about two best friends, underemployed graduates in their early 30s working as coffee-shop baristas. …

‘We need freedom’: Sehaq, the party space for Amsterdam’s queer refugees

As well as contending with racism, queer refugees face homophobia and transphobia even from their fellow refugees. One Dutch group is trying to carve out a safe space At the dinner table, conversations bubble around people as they tuck into a three-course meal. A plethora of different nationalities and identities have pulled up a chair and, here at Sehaq; a network of LGBT refugees run entirely by volunteers. Regularly meeting in members houses, they put on events specifically for queer refugees that range from dance parties to workshops. Where there is a cost or meal involved, all refugees attend for free and non-refugees pay a small donation. Poster for a Sehaq event. Photograph: Sehaq Nisreen, one of the founding members, …

Woodstock 50 music festival officially cancelled weeks before event

The troubled 50th anniversary event planned for August in Maryland has been officially called off The troubled Woodstock 50th anniversary music festival planned for August was officially canceled on Wednesday, with organizers blaming a series of unforeseen setbacks. The three-day festival, meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed 1969 celebration of peace and music, was planned for 16-18 August. Greg Peck, principal of Woodstock 50, said an unfortunate dispute with a financial partner and subsequent legal proceedings forced them to move venues and claimed that ultimately they ran out of time. The timing meant we had few choices where our artists would be able to perform. We worked hard to find a way to produce a proper tribute …

Beyonc’s crash diet plan sells an impossible, damaging ideal | Laura Snapes

In promoting an expensive vegan diet plan, the singer has described confronting her weight as every womans nightmare. She is irresponsibly stoking an evil diet culture but is also a victim of it B2018 Coachella headline set was a feat of meticulous preparation. She conceived a show that would pay tribute to the culture of historically black colleges and universities. Having just given birth to twins, she worked for months on the exacting choreography and arrangements. And she went on a demanding vegan diet that also eschewed sugar, carbs, dairy and alcohol. Im hungry, she says in The video advertising Beyoncs diet plan. We see her dancing, doing battle ropes, sit-ups, intensive stretching and squatting in resistance bands. Borges tells …

Ive been through hell: J Balvin on burn out and Beyonc

Pals with Takashi Murakami and bigger than Drake, the South American reggaeton act talks about the highs and lows of being a global superstar Even when covered in wee, its great being Anish Kapoor sculpture, Balvin is thinking about how massively rich he is. The musician owns various houses around the world and has so many expensive watches that there is a Kapoor, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami. When Balvin gets thirsty, he simply voicenotes his butler Max, a slender, handsome Sardinian man who is omnipresent yet discreet. A murmured request into his iPhone X asking for a black coffee is signed off with te amo. Balvin is unfailingly polite, offering food and even the slightly wet clothing off his …

Old men by the sea: Tennessee banker takes Hemingway lookalike contest

Joe Maxey, 68, beats 141 other author impersonators in long-running event that shows importance of being Ernest A retired banker from Tennessee beat 141 other white-bearded contenders to win the coveted Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida, on Saturday, at the eighth attempt. Joe Maxey, 68, of Cedar Hill triumphed at Sloppy Joes Bar, a hangout of the author when he lived in Key West in the 1930s. A judging panel of former winners chose Maxey from a vast field which competed in two preliminary rounds and Saturdays finals. Maxey said he loved Hemingways writing and shared the authors fondness for mojitos and women. During his Key West years, Hemingway wrote literary classics including For Whom the Bell …

British Museum to return Buddhist heads looted in Afghan war

Stolen artefacts likely removed by Taliban will go on display before being sent to Kabul Fourth-century Buddhist terracotta heads probably hacked off by the Taliban and found stuffed in poorly made wooden crates at Heathrow are to be returned to Afghanistan where they will be star museum exhibits. The were blown up. A torso was also found with the sculptural heads. Photograph: Trustees of the British Museum The sculptures tell a story of Buddhisms heyday in what is now Afghanistan. Hundreds of monasteries were built and then abandoned after the arrival of the Arab armies in the 8th century and the establishment of Islam as the predominant religion. The return of any object which has been illegally trafficked is hugely …

In Defense of Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is the internet’s favorite condiment villain. The egg, oil, and vinegar emulsion is a symbol not only for blandness, but for whiteness and all its attendant cultural appropriation and entitlement. It symbolizes the whitewashing of culture. It looks like something extruded from a teenage pimple or a long festering wound. Plus, haters love to point out, it’s terrible for you. It’s all fat! And salt! And because of the eggs, it's dangerous! If you leave a potato salad made with it out too long at your BBQ, everyone could get salmonella and then you're literally a murderer. Do you really love mayonnaise enough to murder a Fourth of July party for it? Yes, I do. And it's worse than …

The Meaning Behind the #UnwantedIvanka Meme

Ivanka Trump has become an ironic internet Carmen Sandiego. She's popped up in The Last Supper, at the Yalta Conference alongside Winston Churchill, in the opening credits of Friends, on the Abbey Road album cover, on Mount Rushmore. Sometimes, like when she's photobombing Dust Bowl migrants, she's flashing a big cheesy grin. Other times, like at President Lyndon B. Johnson's swearing in, she's more of a pensive onlooker. She is always amusing, always awkward—and always unwanted. Emma Grey Ellis #KimOhNo: Be Grateful That Kim Kardashian Is Bad at Puns Emma Grey Ellis Enter the Age of Borderless Memes Emma Grey Ellis Why You Can't Look Away From #CursedImages The people of Twitter have been Photoshopping Ivanka Trump into images of …

Author Lisa Taddeo: I wanted to explore desire, not sex

In her extraordinary book Three Women Lisa Taddeo charts the intimate lives of real American women. Below, we print an extract In 2010, a young American writer called Lisa Taddeo published Gay Taleses notorious 1981 exploration of sex culture in 1970s America (Talese, a pioneer of new journalism, ran a massage parlour as part of his research; during the writing of the book, he stayed at a clothing-optional resort). Taddeo, conscientious but curious too, went to see Talese, by then in his late 70s, at his home in New York. It was the first of what would turn out to be several false starts. He said the only way I could come close to matching his so-called masterpiece would be …

In Praise of Dadfluencers

All around me, I see good dads. They're kissing boo-boos at the park, rushing to pick their kids up from daycare, they're posting proud photos on Instagram and funny conversations they have with their children on Twitter and Facebook. The role of fathers in America is rapidly evolving, with millennial dads on average far more involved in daily parenting tasks than their own fathers were. Evidence of this shows up in surveys, academic research, and across the internet. Proof of good paternity is everywhere. On Instagram, dads have posted 3.7 million photos and videos to the hashtag #dadlife. (#Fatherhood has 2 million.) On Twitter, dads sharing gross, relatable, and heartwarming looks at fatherhood have amassed huge followings. Take father of …

Companies Don’t Need Big Conventions. They Should Go Anyway

Since its start in 1995, E3 has been the premiere event of the gaming industry, the place every outfit had to be to show off their wares. That's far less true now. In recent years, videogame companies announcing they're skipping the gaming confab has become commonplace. Electronic Arts pulled out a few years ago, launching their own event across town. A few years before that, Nintendo stopped doing annual press conferences, though it still has a presence on E3's show floor. This year, it was Sony's turn: The major publisher and hardware manufacturer passed on the show altogether. With all of Sony's resources presumably focused on the rumored PlayStation 5, the company avoided the event like an embittered college senior …