Books

Smart prose cannot conceal grim content

By David Herman, July 27, 2012

Hans Fallada was a member of that extraordinary generation of central European writers who have been rediscovered in recent years. Born in 1893, a contemporary of Walter Benjamin, Joseph Roth and Bertolt Brecht, he published more than 20 novels, mainly in the 1930s and ’40s, before dying in 1947 in his mid-50s.

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The thinker and the stinker

By Hannah Rosefield, July 27, 2012

What is the link between 17th-century, Jewish-Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and Estonian Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg?

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Pages that keep turning by magic

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2012

As a reader, it’s not unusual to wish you could spend time with the fictional characters whose lives you have followed. But rarely have I found myself so entranced by a book’s setting that I wished to visit it and experience it first-hand.

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From disdain to Deronda

By Clive Sinclair, July 20, 2012

In 1848, the 28-year-old Mary Ann Evans (yet to metamorphose into George Eliot) wrote the following to John Sibree, an apprentice soul-mate: “My Gentile nature kicks most resolutely against any assumption of superiority in the Jews, and is almost ready to echo Voltaire’s vituperation.

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Memoir of a Middle-East maven

By Robert Low, July 6, 2012

At the age of 95, Bernard Lewis has written (with the help of his partner) a fascinating account of his extraordinary life and the events and influences that have made him the world’s most eminent historian on the Middle East.

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Son of Kafka, brother of Appelfeld

By Clive Sinclair, July 6, 2012

It’s Springtime for Norman Manea. Not only are Yale publishing his new novel, The Lair, but they are also reissuing two earlier works of fiction, and a collection of essays. In addition, he has recently been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a privilege granted to very few foreign writers.

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By the Skin of his Teeth

By Anthea Gerrie, June 22, 2012

John Izbicki’s autobiography, Life Between the Lines (Umbria Press, £12.95), opens with his memories of running down the street as a five-year-old, exuberantly shouting: “I am a Jew!”. As this was in Hitler’s Berlin, it gave his parents understandable cause for anxiety.

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Fifties nostalgia is rose-coloured amnesia

By Julia Neuberger, June 22, 2012

Part polemic, part autobiography, its title a riff on Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique, this presents Jessica Mann’s family story interspersed with political argument.

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David Herman interviews Jan Gross, chronicler of Polish atrocities

By David Herman, June 22, 2012

‘I was absolutely stunned. How could antisemitism persist in Poland after the war?” Three times in our conversation, Jan Gross states how he was astonished by a revelation in the course of his work as a historian. First, by the story of how Poles had massacred the Jewish half of the population of Jedwabne, a small town in eastern Poland, in July 1941.

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Witty tale of a musical Sicilian nobleman

By David Herman, June 8, 2012

A perfect hat-trick, as any football fan knows, is one goal scored with the left foot, one with the right, and a header. In 2010, Gabriel Josipovici produced a writer’s hat-trick: a book of short stories, a book of criticism and a novel, all highly acclaimed.

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