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The art of the essay

Despite moments of self-indulgence, four new collections demonstrate that the essay still deserves a place in the modern literary landscape, says Philip Hensher

By Philip Hensher   187

In 2008 Christopher Hitchens underwent waterboarding by US special forces: the subject of an essay in his latest collection, Arguably

Arguably by Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic, £30)

Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury, £18.99)

Except When I Write by Arthur Krystal (OUP, £16.99)

Colour Me English by Caryl Phillips (Harvill Secker, £14.99)

Essays come in all shapes and sizes. Professional essayists have, perhaps, only one thing in common. The sort of essayist grand enough to be collected in a volume always, sooner or later, starts going on about his bloody books. Take four new essay…

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