The Fonsecas are just one of those families. Four siblings born in five years; two daughters and two sons, all creative and fiercely bright.
Best known on our side of the Atlantic is the youngest, writer Isabel Fonseca, wife of the British novelist Martin Amis, but the others, still in America, are equally accomplished. Quina is a designer who lives between Manhattan and their father’s native Uruguay; Bruno, who died in 1994, was an artist whose large, figurative paintings, The War Murals have been compared, in their power, to Picasso’s Guernica.
What do you have to look like for Woody Allen to think he is much better looking than you? Apparently, like Wallace Shawn.
He is the American actor whose career took off when he appeared in Allen’s film Manhattan as Diane Keaton’s ex-husband — a character whose reputation as an intellectual and sexual goliath Allen’s character finds somewhat hard to reconcile with the balding, gnome-like figure cut by Shawn.
It is a good time to be a British actress right now. Kate Winslet has just won an Oscar for her role in The Reader and Rebecca Hall has earned good reviews for her performances in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Frost/Nixon. Meanwhile Emily Blunt is gaining recognition in The Young Victoria in which she plays the title role. And then there is Natalie Press, who was Blunt’s co-star in the pair’s breakthrough movie, 2004’s My Summer of Love.
Idan Raichel started playing the accordion when he was nine. It was, he says, “the uncoolest instrument ever”, associated as it was with old-fashioned Israeli folk songs. But his suffering has paid off.
Now accordions have a wholly different reputation, thanks to bands like the Argentinian Gotan Project on the world music scene.
As one of the writers of Seinfeld and the director of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry Charles has earned his place in the pantheon of American comedy. He is no longer the broke Brooklynite who once scraped by in Los Angeles by dealing jokes like drugs outside the Comedy Store. Now Charles, 53, wants to do more than just entertain.
"Brilliant. Two candles. Perfect". It is late-ish on a Friday afternoon and Maureen Lipman is sitting at one of the dining tables at the Menier Chocolate Factory. At this tiny but influential south London theatre she has been playing the elderly, wheelchair-bound Madam Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed revival of A Little Night Music. From tomorrow the show opens at the Garrick Theatre in the West End, and if it follows in the footsteps of the Chocolate Factory’s previous Stephen Sondheim musical, Sunday In the Park With George, it will bag a hatful of awards.
She may hate the term “chick-lit” but Jennifer Weiner — one of the best-selling novelists of the genre — certainly understands its power. Weiner, the author of Goodnight Nobody and In Her Shoes — which was adapted into a hit movie — feels strongly that a book should not be dismissed just because its heroine’s aim is to fall in love and have a family. But the Philadelphia writer, who has nine million of her books in print in 36 countries, says that she has become more pragmatic about the term.
It is a long way from the Sephardi synagogues of New York to the platform of London’s Barbican Hall. But this unusual path is only part of the extraordinary journey through life and music taken by Murray Perahia, one of today’s best-loved and most revered pianists.
Israel’s most famous writer gazes reflectively at the majestic sight of the Thames at Limehouse, from which he is separated by a panoramic window. “I was angry with my mother for killing herself,” Amos Oz recalls. “It was as if she had run off with a lover without leaving us a letter.” He is explaining the genesis of A Tale of Love and Death, about his childhood, which appeared in English in 2004 and cemented his reputation as an outstanding literary talent.
You do not get much more English than the children’s author Michael Morpurgo. He ticks all the upper-middle-class English boxes, and a few more besides. Born in Hertfordshire during the war, he went to prep school in Sussex, public school in Kent, then King’s College, London, where he read English.