Screen heroes under totalitarian rule

Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state holds total authority over society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life where necessary. It is an appalling political system to live under, and yet its exploration and depiction in film can make for great cinema. Why? Because, from a dramatic standpoint, […]

The marks of a thief-in-law

Brought to popular western culture in the contemporary film Eastern Promises directed by David Cronenberg, and now on display at the Saatchi Gallery in the post-Soviet portraits of Sergei Vasiliev, the tattoo code language of criminals in the USSR had its roots far earlier, in Stalin’s Russia, amongst the thieves-in-law (vory v zakonye) – the […]

Why I wrote The Distinguished Assassin

As a postgraduate student of Russian literature at the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies in 1995, I will never forget my first encounter with Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, a staggering work that powerfully, and methodically, documents the vast network of forced labour camps that existed throughout the former Soviet Union. What […]

Maxima Mea Culpa

Alex Gibney’s new documentary, Maxima Mea Culpa, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, casts a critical eye on the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and most striking is the film’s expose of how this abuse was, and still is, covered up not by low and middle ranking priests […]

What constitutes a really great work of fiction?

We have all done it, set down eagerly to read a new book and come away disappointed after the first few pages. It is not easy to create a gripping tale, but when an author gets it right, the result is priceless. This got me thinking about the characteristics that are actually found in a […]

Don Don, a review by D. Hansford

“I was recommended to read this book by a friend and I can honestly say I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful story with two wonderful characters. It really gave me food for thought as I certainly related to the New York Don. It’s very visual and I really felt like I was there […]

Don Don, a review by Wallada Barnes

“Don Don is a perfect entertaining book for me, spirituality and fiction. The book makes sense in many ways: the characters, Buddhism, Thai lives etc. Nick is very clever in the way he put things together. It could be a serious book: about life and death, and believers. But I have found myself laughing, and […]

Don Don, a review by :D

“Just finished Don Don… finished it in less than 8 hours… very interesting and enlightening… still thinking of the characters.. the author has used a very explicit language that I find honest and interesting. I also really liked the plethora of spiritual information contained in the book. The whole concept of soul merging with the […]

Don Don, a review by Poornima Sasidharan

“Borrowed your book Don Don from the library yesterday…started reading it some ten minutes back…had to find you out fast and tell you that I had never read a book as sharp as this.. felt like “straight from the heart-straight into the book-straight into the heart”…had never been this glad about a book…made me feel […]

The “Evil” of Daniel Bartlam

To label the teenager Daniel Bartlam “evil”, as the Daily Mirror does this morning, is a gross oversimplification, not least because implicit in this label is the idea that he is somehow not human, something other, an abomination. He is none of these. Rather he is all too human – an isolated, troubled and destructive […]