Culture

Autobiographical storytelling is bridging divides in Beirut

MARAM, an eloquent 14-year-old from Ain el-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, stood behind the microphone and began her story. After a minute she faltered, flushing as she turned to a lady in the front row for her hand-written notes. The audience burst into a round of spontaneous applause, calling out words of encouragement. One of five storytellers to speak ...

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The rise of performance art

Have you heard about the latest thing? IN THE medieval town hall of the small Westphalian city of Münster, Alexandra Pirici, a young Romanian artist, prepares to tell a story. Word has gone out that she has something special to say; people have been queuing for hours to get in. As things get under way, her six performers give short ...

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South Korea like you’ve never seen it

Familiar Things. By Hwang Sok-yong. Translated by Sora Kim-Russell. Scribe; 216 pages; £12.99.  The Impossible Fairy Tale. By Han Yujoo. Translated by Janet Hong. Graywolf Press; 225 pages; $16. Tilted Axis; £8.99.  IN THE mega-cities of Asia and Africa, from Cairo to Manila, urban sprawl throws up trash mountains where enterprising slum-dwellers gather a bare living collecting recyclable junk. Seoul, South Korea’s spruce high-rise ...

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Should the Lions pick all 15 players from one team?

IT IS one of the most venerable endeavours in modern sport. This year’s trip to New Zealand marks the 33rd time that the British and Irish Lions—a rugby-union dream team of the best players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland—have ventured to the southern hemisphere, a voyage that they first made in 1888. Today’s tours, which take place every four ...

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A new look at young British Muslim men

MAHTAB HUSSAIN’S exhibition “You Get Me”?, at Autograph ABP in London, comprises 24 portraits of young South Asian Muslim men in working-class neighbourhoods of Nottingham, London and Birmingham. Mr Hussain hopes to stimulate conversation around one of the most maligned groups in Britain, many of whom feel designated a threat to their country, and how growing up exposed to hostility ...

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Toscanini’s pursuit of perfection

Toscanini. By Harvey Sachs. W.W. Norton; 944 pages; $39.95. To be published in Britain in July; £29.99.  ASK music-lovers to name a conductor, and among the greats they are likely to mention Arturo Toscanini. The Italian, who died in 1957, is perhaps best known for leading the NBC Symphony Orchestra from the 1930s, which had a large following in America. Yet Toscanini ...

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A grim diagnosis for Western politics

The Retreat of Western Liberalism. By Edward Luce.Grove Atlantic; 234 pages; $24. Little Brown; £16.99.  FEW doubt that something big happened in Western politics during the past 12 months but nobody is sure what. Turmoil in Washington and London contrasts with centrist stability in Paris and Berlin. Edward Luce, a commentator for the Financial Times in Washington, is well placed to ...

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Chatty women and strong, silent men

UBER was having a bad week: accusations of s.e.xism in the ride-hailing company had turned it from a Silicon Valley “unicorn” into something more of an ogre. Matters were not helped by a board meeting to discuss the mess. Arianna Huffington, a director, cited research showing that the likelihood of a board bringing on a woman is higher if it ...

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How the Opera di Roma turned things around

ITALY gave birth to opera, but in its home country the art form now carries a distinct air of maledizione (curse). Of Italy’s 14 major opera houses—the ones supported by the federal government—12 are in the red. Last September, a strike over pay forced Genoa’s opera house to cancel its first production of the season. The Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari ...

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Italy’s enduring love affair with Emilio Salgari

LAST month, Neapolitan anti-mafia investigators announced plans to indict Francesco “Sandokan” Schiavone, a local gangster, for the killing of a policeman in 1989. Naples has long been used to Mr Schiavone and his ilk: he is already in jail for murder, along with dozens of his colleagues. What distinguishes Mr Schiavone is his nickname. “Sandokan” was first conjured by Emilio ...

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“The Big Sick” feels awfully familiar

IF you have visited a comedy club at any point in the past two decades, you have probably heard some variation of the same joke. “My parents don’t understand why I want to be a comedian,” it begins—then the stand-up does an impression of their immigrant parents yelling at them in an exaggerated accent. It’s an easy bit that usually ...

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How millennials are warping the vinyl industry

VINYL evokes another time. In “Call the Midwife”, a drama set in the late 1950s, the young women return from a day of delivering infants to enjoy a Horlicks and a Chordettes record. In “Mad Men”, Don Draper can often be seen nursing an Old Fashioned with some Big John Hamilton or Peggy Lee whirring on the turntable. But LPs ...

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