Books

Hitchens's memorial matters

By Sipora Levy, October 5, 2012

Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, was one of the most admired — and loathed — writers of his generation. The best of his writing, notably as an essayist and contributor to Vanity Fair and The Atlantic burns with passion and integrity.

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Last and best of the great literary editors

By Daniel Johnson, October 5, 2012

Literary editors are much envied by their fellow journalists. The latter take it for granted that we are as louche as the literati whose company we keep, leading leisurely lives in which long lunches and love affairs loom large.

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Gospels put into context

By Kate Saunders, October 5, 2012

Although Naomi Alderman’s 'The Liars’ Gospel' takes issue with the mythology around the life of Jesus, it shouldn’t surprise any Christians who did their Scripture homework at school. Most ought to have got over the shock discovery that Jesus was not the polite, Victorian, Anglo-Catholic of my unconscious imagination at least.

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Incorporate corporation

By David Herman, September 28, 2012

Simon Rich is the youngest writer ever hired on America’s top comedy show, Saturday Night Live, and is a regular contributor to the New Yorker. Born in New York (he’s the son of the New York Times journalist, Frank Rich) and educated at Harvard, he has a gently clever comic style. Though still in his 20s, he has a novel and two books of humorous stories to his name.

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Changed faces and altered points of view

By Melanie Abrams, September 28, 2012

Steve Schapiro has taken some of the most instantly recognisable photographs of the past 50 years so it must have been a tough challenge to decide what went into his new, retrospective photo-book.

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On the move: exiles and emigres

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 21, 2012

What you see is not necessarily what you get. The blurb on the cover of this book states that it is “a comprehensive account of how the Jews became a diaspora people.”

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Birth, death and music

By David Herman, September 21, 2012

Michael Chabon is best known for two novels — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union — which brought together modern Jewish history and American popular culture.

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Sad and lonely basket cases

By David Herman, September 14, 2012

At first glance, these books seem very similar. Both are about groups of men — a team of Jewish basketball players travelling across America and six men who meet regularly in a London gym — sad, lonely men lifted by comradeship. But it is the differences which are more intriguing.

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Civilisation's alternative roots

By David Conway, September 14, 2012

In asking the question, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”, the third-century theologian, Tertullian, dismissed the entire corpus of ancient Greek literature. So effective was the question that, within a couple of centuries, Plato’s Academy was shut and familiarity with Greek language and literature lost to Europe for more than a millennium.

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Frank and fearless

By Anne Sebba, September 7, 2012

In January 1943, a 22-year-old British officer gave a talk to entertain his men as the unit idled in the desert. The topic was “Occupied Europe”, with accounts of collaboration, resistance and murder in 15 countries, about which British newspapers said little.

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