... and four other things you need to know about this week, including a trip to the circus with Peter Blake, a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela from Idris Elba, and a twisted family drama from Denmark (do they do any other kind?)More
Muhammad Ali has been many things. Heavyweight champion of the world. Conscientious objector. One hell of a talker. But he is also a father – to nine children by three of his four wives and two from extramarital affairs (it’s fair to say he certainly hasn’t been the Greatest Husband Of All Time). It’s his conversations with his kids, some of them anyway, that bookend I Am Ali, a new feature-length documentary out in cinemas on Friday by writer-director Claire Lewins, which is an affectionate, some might say hagiographic, portrait of the boxer voted “sportsman of the century” by Sports Illustrated. For reasons best known to himself, Ali taped many of his phone calls to his kids, and some of the audio recordings are played back here, complete with tiny voices repeating his “float like a butterfly” mantra back down the line. Even his son Muhammad Ali Jr appears and is eager to sing his dad’s praises, despite being at the centre of an ongoing family feud. Perhaps Ali wasn’t the perfect father, but according to those in the position to say, he gave it a darned good shot.
I Am Ali is out on 28 November
Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, has a unique perspective of modern urban life. In fact, he has three, given that he divides his time between a trio of cities: Lahore, where he mostly grew up, and later New York and London. In this collection of the non-fiction he has written since 2000 for The New York Times and the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, among others, he touches on everything from the changing reputation of Pakistan during the War on Terror to the sensual pleasures of sweating in the presence of a young woman. Hamid writes with an honesty and elegant simplicity that makes his writing both appealingly digestible and admirably direct and if you haven’t read any of his writing before, might we suggest this as a great place (or three) to start.
Discontent and its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton) is out on 27 November