A Jewish Book Week to set our imaginations alight

One of the defining images of the London 2012 Games, the cauldron devised by Thomas Heatherwick (Photo: AP)

One of the defining images of the London 2012 Games, the cauldron devised by Thomas Heatherwick (Photo: AP)

The man responsible for the iconic London Olympic Games cauldron, Thomas Heatherwick, will be one of the highlight speakers at this year’s Jewish Book Week. Mr Heatherwick, whose Jewish grandmother fled Nazi Germany to come to London, will speak about his art and new book, Thomas Heatherwick: Making.

The artist is just one of more than 140 writers, historians, politicians, performers, journalists and speakers taking part in this year’s nine-day festival, which starts on February 23.

Historian Simon Schama will return to Book Week speaking about his forthcoming book and BBC TV series, The History of the Jews. The potter and award-winning writer Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare With Amber Eyes, will introduce the novel The Exiles’ Return, written by his late grandmother Elisabeth de Waal, whose story follows four exiles returning to Vienna after the war.

In a rare return to the public stage, former foreign secretary David Miliband will speak to David Aaronovitch about the late and exceptional historian Tony Judt, and his contributions to European thinking and the future of the left.

Israel and the Middle East in fiction and debate will feature as journalist John McCarthy, once held hostage in Lebanon, is set to speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as Arab-Israeli writer Sayed Kashua and novelists Shani Boianjiu and Yishai Sarid. Israeli writer and historian Fania Oz-Salzberger, daughter of literary great Amos Oz, will discuss the role of words between generations and her recently published book Jews and Words, co-authored with her father.

“We’ve put together a programme to encourage visitors to encounter fresh ways of thinking about old problems, to discover new voices with important things to say about the Jewish experience and to engage in a healthy dose of dissent,” said Jewish Book Week director Hester Abrams.

In a preview to the festival on January 21, singer Elkie Brooks will both sing, and speak about her north Manchester Jewish childhood, with extracts from her autobiography, Finding My Voice.

The full Jewish Book Week programme is available on its website www.jewishbookweek.com. The programme also appears in this week’s JC, which is media sponsor of the event.

Last updated: 7:45pm, January 10 2013