Arts features

Two giants of literature — and one big question

By John Nathan, June 10, 2009

In Zoë Heller’s rather brilliant third novel, The Believers, faith is the theme. Each member of the New York-Jewish, atheistic Litvinoff family is finding that long held beliefs are being severely tested.

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Apprentice Watch: Drama at last as the best two go through

By MichaelSophocles, June 4, 2009

The interview round — my absolute favourite. I used to love watching the candidates who made it that far being torn to shreds by Sir Alan’s henchmen, or saving themselves through their communication skills alone.
And as a candidate myself, I regarded the tasks as a mere build-up to the moment when I would come face-to-face with an inquisitor and put my professional and personal life on the line.

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The refugee’s philosopher

By Gerald Jacobs, June 4, 2009

After years of silence, suddenly, the Canadian writer Anne Michaels is everywhere. Garlanded with prizes and praise as a poet, she is positively revered as a novelist — on the strength of just one novel, Fugitive Pieces, published in the mid-1990s.

Now, following 12 years of meticulous preparation, her second, The Winter Vault, has been released in the UK more or less simultaneously with the film version of Fugitive Pieces. And she has already written a substantial chunk of her third novel.

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Heard any good Jewish jokes lately?

June 3, 2009

Have you heard the one about the Jewish boy who got a part in the school play?

“I’m playing a Jewish husband,” he tells his mother proudly. “That’s no good,” she replies, “tell them you want a speaking part.”

Perhaps not the greatest joke in the world. In fact, we’re sure you can do better. Send us your favourite Jewish joke and you could have it printed in the JC, and even told by a comedian to an audience at London ’s famous Comedy Store.

Email us your joke to laughs@thejc.com and we will put it on this website, and print a selection in the paper.

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Apprentice Watch: My advice? Never be afraid to look stupid

By MichaelSophocles, May 27, 2009

I have always tried to live life without fear. My friends have often said that I must be either very brave or very stupid and, on reflection, I think my antics over the past 26 years have fallen into both boxes.

My time on The Apprentice certainly reflected my fearless side, but I knew there would be moments on the show when I would come across as a prize idiot. To accept your faults, no matter how embarrassing they are, is an integral part of being a success on the show, and in business generally. Sir Alan is looking for a candidate who can be objective and honest about their flaws.

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Influenced by Picasso, inspired by Israel

By Julia Weiner, May 27, 2009

The injunction against “graven images” in the Second Commandment has inhibited some of the world’s greatest Jewish sculptors from creating works exploring their heritage. Jacob Epstein admitted as much when he revealed that he would have liked to produce sculptures for Jewish audiences, but felt it was impossible as “the synagogue has no use for me”.

One Jewish sculptor who did find a way to make great works with Jewish themes was Jacques Lipchitz — an exhibition of whose marvellous drawings is currently on show in London.

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Apprentice Watch: Reliving the moment when I knew I couldn't win

By MichaelSophocles, May 21, 2009

Waking up in the small hours of the morning, I felt entirely alone and deeply disheartened. I turned on the harsh hotel light and looked at my sorry excuse for a face in the bedroom mirror. In all of my 24 years I had never felt or looked so exhausted. Then, from outside my door, I heard two booming voices, one male, one female, both very familiar. They were banging on about what an exciting prospect going to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham was, and how delighted they were to have got hold of the right kind of wedding dresses.

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Apprentice Watch: So dull, I didn’t care who got fired

By MichaelSophocles, May 14, 2009

On the odd occasion I can prise myself away from my hectic schedule, I like to go to the movies. My favourites are the made-for-Oscar dramas — being an emotional type, I like nothing more than seeing feelings running high in characters who are fighting for something they believe in. I’m much the same when it comes to real life, being drawn to people who lead with their hearts rather than their heads.

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Apprentice: Sir Alan tells big ego to go

By MichaelSophocles, May 7, 2009

Arrogance is a costly vice. The cliché directed at me by many people I have met over the years in the business world is that there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and that “you, my friend, have crossed it”.

Contrary to how viewers of the last Apprentice series perceived me, I always tried to look at myself objectively. I wanted Sir Alan to be fully aware that I recognised my faults and was willing to plead guilty to them.

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Apprentice Watch: My kosher-chicken gaffe beat this

By MichaelSophocles, April 30, 2009

I’m running down the narrow streets of Marrakech, a large cowhide placed uneasily on my left shoulder and my trembling right arm pointing towards a butcher. My brow and back have collected enough sweat to fill a small pond, and I am nervous. No — in fact, I’m absolutely terrified.

I now find myself in a featureless room surrounded by a bunch of unidentified objects. I cower down with a feeling of incomprehensible shame as the objects begin to grow and then proceed to cackle and scream.

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