Books

Components of sadness

By David Herman, August 21, 2014

Problems with people

By David Guterson

Bloomsbury, £14.99

wenty years on, David Guterson is still best known for his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), a huge bestseller that sold nearly four million copies. Though Guterson is Jewish ("We're just liberal, secular Americans with a little matzah on the side," he told the JC in 2011), his writing isn't.

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Review: Happy Are The Happy

By Madeleine Kingsley, August 7, 2014

By Yasmina Reza
Harvill Secker, £12.99

Among the Parisiens of Yasmina Reza's outré and witty new novel, happiness is rare and random. But "novel" is not perhaps the mot juste as it's more a sheaf of monologues spoken by the assorted lovers, families, friends, patients, doctors and colleagues of a loosely-knit, largely Jewish, social group.

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Manual, aesthetic and heartfelt

By Peter Lawson, August 7, 2014

Manual
By Richard Berengarten
Shearsman Books, £8.95

Coming Forth By Day
By Gabriel Levin
Carcanet, £9.95

Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth

By Ruth Padel

Chatto & Windus, £10

What do we do with our hands? We hold hands, craft materials into objects, play musical inst-ruments and clap when part of an audience.

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Interview: Claire Hajaj

By Jenni Frazer, July 31, 2014

It is a fair bet that Claire Hajaj could have done without the violent political and military situation that has accompanied the publication of her first novel, Ishmael's Oranges.

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British Jewry since Emancipation

By David Goldberg, July 31, 2014

By Geoffrey Alderman

University of Buckingham, £45

Professor Geoffrey Alderman is the Marmite of Anglo-Jewry; either you love him or loathe him. I must confess to being one of his admirers.

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Different but the same

By Robert Low, July 24, 2014

A World Without Jews
By Alon Confino
Yale University Press, £20

Historians have got the causes of the Holocaust all wrong. That's the central tenet of Alon Confino's new reinterpretation of the world's worst-ever genocide.

Confino, a professor of history at both the University of Virginia and Ben Gurion University, thinks most historians have things in reverse.

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Out of Africa: physical and mental border crossings

By Charlotte Oliver, July 24, 2014

Zebra Crossing
By Meg Vandermerwe
Oneworld, £10.99

After Before
By Jemma Wayne
Legend Press, £7.99

Haunting and multi-layered, Zebra Crossing and After Before are both novels that will linger long in the memory after reading. Fitting perhaps, then, that their protagonists are stalked by shadows of unhappy pasts and uncertain futures.

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Review: Ishmael's Oranges

By Jennifer Lipman, July 17, 2014

By Claire Hajaj
Oneworld, £16.99

Reading Claire Hajaj's novel took me back to when, last year, I spent Shavuot in Jerusalem, walking to the Old City at dawn against the cry of the Muslim call to prayer. This is the kind of book that Ishmael's Oranges is, one that conjures up the sights, smells and sounds of the Middle East as you turn the pages.

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Review: Ancient israel

By Gabriel Josipovici, July 17, 2014

By Robert Alter
W. W. Norton, £15.99

Human beings love stories. But when stories are written down and become important to the community that produced them they start to be scrutinised and questioned, and then a curious thing happens: they lose their magic and become simply the carriers of moral, ethical and metaphysical messages.

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Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

By Anne Sebba, July 10, 2014

By Caroline Moorehead

Chatto & Windus, £20

As the Second World War ended and the various welfare organisations took stock of the tragedy that had overtaken Nazi-occupied France, they estimated there were some 5,000-6,000 Jewish children who were now orphans, whether hidden in non-Jewish homes around France or over the border in Spain or Switzerland.

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