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A Finnish novel on the dark side of the beauty business

Norma. By Sofi Oksanen. Translated by Owen Witesman.Knopf; 306 pages; $26.95. Atlantic Books; £12.99. LOOK at a female celebrity’s head and you will often see a product of the world’s fastest-growing yet least-regulated businesses. The traffic in human hair for use as extensions had its traditional headquarters in India and China. …

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A corrective to northern-focused histories of India

Shiva down south Coromandel: A Personal History of South India. By Charles Allen.Little, Brown; 432 pages; £25. WITH all of the gods in the Himalayas celebrating Shiva’s wedding, goes the Tamil myth, the Earth started to tilt perilously towards the north. The sage Agathya journeyed south to restore balance, bringing with …

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The incredible inventiveness of Hedy Lamarr

SHE was considered “the most beautiful woman in the world”, and had one of the most iconic faces of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood. She provided the inspiration for Snow White and Catwoman. Other actresses tried to look like her, and leading men sought to be with her. But Hedy Lamarr’s …

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The Mayflower generation and the burden it bears

The Mayflower. By Rebecca Fraser .St Martin’s Press; 384 pages; $29.99. Published in Britain as “The Mayflower Generation”; Chatto & Windus; £25. THE story of the Mayflower and its passengers has been told so many times that one cannot help wondering whether the ship’s importance has been overstated. It is …

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The state of Kurdish cinema

WHEN Zaradasht Ahmed, a Norwegian-Kurdish director, began shooting his war documentary, a complicated process spanning more than five years awaited him. “Nowhere to Hide” (2016, pictured), an immersive account of a male nurse working and raising a family in Iraq, was shot collaboratively by Mr Ahmed and the nurse himself, …

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Italy’s World Cup exit is far from an apocalypse

“FINE” (“the end”), howled the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s most popular sporting newspaper. “Apocalisse, disastro” wailed Corriere dello Sport, one of its rivals. Muted supporters, some of them weeping, filed out of bars across the land. An impotent 0-0 draw against Sweden in Milan’s San Siro stadium on November 13th, following a …

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How the world changed around Sergio Aragones and Mad magazine

THE world in 2017 is a confusing place. It is often difficult to tell whether a news story is genuine, fake or an advertisement. Hollywood studios churn out repetitive superhero franchises with sequels veering dangerously close to double digits. Politicians, entertainers and media professionals across the spectrum are being exposed …

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A modern history of Iran

Iran: A Modern History. By Abbas Amanat. Yale University Press; 1,000 pages; $40. To be published in Britain in January; £30. ABBAS AMANAT is an authority on Iranian culture and political history. In his new book he presents the past five centuries of Iran’s history in its Persian, Shia context. …

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The rise and rise of performance art

BY THE late 1990s, the small and marginal world of performance art seemed stunted by nostalgia and self-parody. “I would go to [New York’s] Lower East Side and see these scruffy works that felt like a repeat of the 1970s,” says RoseLee Goldberg, a South African-born curator and art historian …

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What does America’s Second Amendment really say?

JUST weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, in Las Vegas, America faced its fifth-worst attack, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5th. Both assailants were armed with military-style rifles. Why does American law let people buy such weapons? The answer is the Second Amendment to the constitution, …

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