Women know everything. To prove It – as if it needed proving – read this month’s most notable books. Joyce Carol Oates’ new novel, The Falls, is a big one, portraying America: the despoiling of its landscape, its families in crisis, and the greed of its industrial expansion. It is an eminently readable book and though full of heart, utterly heartbreaking. Read Anita Desai’s The Zigzag Way for a portrait of twentieth-century Mexico, and AL Kennedy’s novel Paradise for a depiction of contemporary British life. For something a little less all-encompassing, but still profound, see artist Doris Salcedo at White Cube (September10-October18). The Colombian juxtaposes everyday objects in unusual ways to comment on the everyday violence that occurs in her country. Women, and clothes, abound, of course, in Norman Parkinson’s images. See the photographer’s work at Hamiltons Gallery from September 15 to October 9, as well as in a new book by Robin Muir, Norman Parkinson: Portraits in Fashion. Take a tip from Parkinson, famous for his “moving pictures with a still camera”: put on a pair of dancing shoes, try the new Gnet coffee and a new album, and go!
All in the details – It’s the little things that matter this month
Explore and enjoy detail in dress, drawings, decoration and design. There aren’t many more pleasing things in life than a Christopher Dresser teapot, if only you could get your hands on one. Dresser, Britain’s first independent industrial designer, died 100 years ago, and this month (from September 9 to December 5), the V&A is exhibiting over 200 of his designs, many of which are familiar classics. Noble ran the City Racing gallery between 1988 and 1998, and it was there that many of the Young British Artists – Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas, Gillian Wearing – showed their early work. This exhibition, Noble’s first of any size in the UK, will display Nobson Newton, his meticulous depictions of his fictional city of the same name. For a quicker fix, there are cutouts by Rob Ryan and Tord Boontje (one DIY and one – oh joy! ready-made) to string around your house and your neck.
Fela Kuti has been described as a spiritualist, social maverick, panAfricanist, anti-military dictatorship activist, composer, musician, dancer, and candidate for the Nigerian presidency. The father of Afro-beat, he recorded 77 albums, had 27 wives and made over 200 court appearances. In August1997, at the age of 58, he died of Aids. Learn more about this extraordinary figure at the Barbican’s multi-arts festival BlackPresident: TheArtandLegacyofFelaAnikulapoKuti (September 9-October 24): a series of films, documentaries, exhibitions and concerts. For more history, go lateral. Glenn Brown is known for using photographic reproductions of iconic portraits – by Fragonard, Dalland Auerbach, among others – to make his subversive art. See his work at the Serpentine Gallery (September14-November 7). For great art unsubverted, head to the Royal Academy to see one of the best private collections of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: that of Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum. Its hoard (on show from September18 to December10) boasts Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, plus work by Rodin and Gauguin.