If someone told you that Osama bin Laden masterminded 9/11 after reading a seminal text about militant Zionism - written by a former Israeli Prime Minister - would you believe them? The story may sound far-fetched, but it's true.
When the Russian tanks entered the centre of Berlin on April 29 1945, a 26-year-old Jewish woman was travelling in a jeep ahead of the troops. Elena Rzhevskaya was a military interpreter for Russia's 3rd Shock Army. She worked for SMERSH, the Soviet counter-intelligence agency, whose name is an acronym of the Russian for "death to spies".
Everywhere you go these days, you can see copies of Kolymsky Heights, a thriller written more than 20 years ago. It's all very strange. When the author, Lionel Davidson, died in 2009 he had published one novel in 30 years. The month before he died, the Independent ran an item headed, Forgotten authors no. 37: Lionel Davidson.
By Marie Jalowitz Simon (Trans: Anthea Bell) Profile, £14.99 (ebook £8.99)
Towards the very end of her life, in 1997, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a highly respected East German philosopher and philologist, began to talk for the first time about her life as a young Jewish woman who managed to survive the war by going underground in Nazi Berlin.
In a riveting scene in his novel The Tin Drum, Günter Grass depicts the infamous Reichskristallnacht pogrom of November 1938 as it was witnessed in Danzig by the central character, Oskar Matzerath, a hunchbacked, teenage dwarf. This is no conventional, realist narrative. Writing retrospectively in a post-war lunatic asylum, Oskar recalls the horror from a strange, oblique angle.
Judith Claire Mitchell's second novel takes the form of a 370-page suicide note. Make that a triple suicide note. It's also one of the sharpest, tartest, flat-out funniest books you're likely to read any time soon.
This is an astonishing book. Original, dark and quite unlike anything else I have read. And yet it speaks to the mood of our times. It is a novel about violence and barbarism, the fragility of civilisation and a world of people on the move, migrants desperate for a better life.