It is hard not to fall in love with Gil Shaham's violin playing. Whether he is giving recitals together with his sister, the pianist Orli Shaham, recording for his own CD label or exploring the violin concerto masterpieces from the 1930s - which form his chief project this season - generosity and warmth emanate from his tone.
In 2002, Alex Bellos published Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life to much acclaim.
Its appeal stemmed partly from its having been written by someone who had lived in Brazil and was a student of that nation's obsession with football, and partly because the subject is a sexy one. Now, Bellos is sharing with readers another of his passions: mathematics.
Lisa Kudrow is not the kind of actress who provokes tears - unless it is from laughter. As the kooky and capricious folk singer Phoebe Bouffay in Friends, she and her five Central Perk pals generated global laughter for 10 years in the most popular sitcom of all time. The joy of the show remains, so it comes as a shock to see one of its stars sobbing on camera for the family she lost at the hands of the Nazis.
It is the day after the Olivier Awards ceremony and it appears that Samantha Spiro, winner of best actress in a musical category, has come down from cloud nine. "You've caught me just before doing my hoovering," says the 41-year-old mother of two.
Twenty-four hours previously she was holding back the tears as she accepted her honour for playing the lead in last year's Regent's Park Open Air Theatre revival of Jerry Herman's Hello Dolly. It was the second Olivier - one of the most prestigious theatre awards on offer - of her career, and one of three won by the show.
According to online biographies, the young Todd Solondz wanted to be a rabbi when he grew up. Like a lot of "facts" on the web, however, this is true only up to a point. "I know that got out there," sighs the New Yorker, "but I was seven years old and at a yeshivah, so I just thought it would be neat to have a beard. That is about the extent of my religious convictions," he laughs.
Rebecca Goldstein was in London last month to launch her new book, 36 Arguments For The Existence Of God: A Work Of Fiction. Accompanying her was her husband, popular psychologist Steven Pinker. They have been dubbed "America's brainiest couple", and not without reason. A professional philosopher, Goldstein has taught at Princeton, Harvard and Brandeis universities in American, and was a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant, nicknamed the "genuis" award, in 1995.
Eli Amir was born in Baghdad in 1937. At the age of 13, he went into exile along with 120,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel. He went on to serve the Israeli government as a ministerial adviser on Arab affairs and immigrant absorption. He is active in The Abraham Fund for coexistence and equality between Israeli Arabs and Jews.
Above all, though, he is a literary celebrity, well known in Israel for his novels about Iraqi-Jewish experience.His books are part of the national curriculum. He is also gaining recognition in the Arab world, especially in Egypt.
The Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov, who makes his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on Sunday, has built his career so steadily that to many music lovers he has become a familiar figure almost by default.
The first story in Where the God of Love Hangs Out, the new collection by American writer Amy Bloom - who shared a memorable session with Lionel Shriver at this month's Jewish Book Week in London - opens with happily married best friends William and Clare watching late-night news together and edging awkwardly, under cover of the TV, towards their first kiss: the beginning of a serious affair. Only a few pages long, Your Borders, Your Rivers, Your Tiny Villages delicately and comically begins a series of stories of breathtaking intimacy and audacity.
The menu in the restaurant where Jonathan Safran Foer and I are due to meet in five minutes' time is causing me some anxiety. It appears to offer one vegetarian dish and 600 meat dishes, none of them remotely organic.
This menu is a symbol of everything Safran Foer deplores. It epitomises what he thinks is wrong with modern food consumption and production, a subject he has spent the past three years researching, and has just travelled half-way round the world to publicise. This menu is a certain red rag to the raging bull that is, or will be any second now, Jonathan Safran Foer.