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.
‘I’m a bit of a duff musician,’ says Nicky Singer. It is a surprising statement from the award-winning author considering that her novel, Knight Crew, has been adapted as a youth opera and is being performed on Glyndebourne’s main stage. The book is a retelling of the King Arthur legend in a modern setting, with knife crime at the centre of the story. It is Glyndebourne’s first-ever commission of a teen novel. Singer has also written the libretto.
It was always going to be a curious affair. More than 200 journalists from around the globe invited to quiz the Mad Hatter the Red Queen, the White Queen, Tweedle Dum and Dee in the faux splendour of the grand ballroom at The Dorchester. But things just got curiouser and curiouser. A Hungarian reporter asked the White Queen - aka Anne Hathaway in Tim Burton's new version of Alice in Wonderland - why she had never done a role with her pants off.
The post-Holocaust heroines of Day After Night owe their existence - absolutely and undeniably - to Boston novelist Anita Diamant. For a whole year, Diamant sat at her computer breathing character and history into Shayndel, Tedi, Leonie and Zorah, who were detained as illegal immigrants then dramatically rescued from Atlit internment camp in Israel in 1945.
Alon Hilu has been feted as one of Israel's finest young writers. He has also been condemned as a traitor to his own country.
Very few novels have attracted the level of interest, both positive and negative, as his latest book, The House of Rajani. The novel, set in the 19th century, tells in diary form the story of the relationship between an Arab boy in Jaffa and a Russian immigrant, and has been lavishly praised and condemned in equal measure. Israeli President Shimon Peres described it as "an extraordinary book" while critics have condemned it as unpatriotic.
One of the bigger Jewish stories to be given lots of coverage in the wider media in recent times concerned the curious case of sheitels, Victoria Beckham and Russian prisoners. Oh, and Hindu temples.
Samantha Ellis was working in Joseph’s Bookstore in the north-west London, Jewish heartland suburb of Temple Fortune at the time. She was in the process of making the leap from journalism — and working part time in a bookshop — to becoming a full-time playwright.
‘I’m not mainstream,” says Yasmin Levy, sitting down with a coffee in a West Hampstead café, her local hang-out when staying in London. She is about to go on the road for a UK tour that takes in a different city every night — with a day of rest for Shabbat. Levy is in demand — a 700-seat venue in Paris recently sold out within days; US promoters are clamouring for her.