Books

The more interesting face of publishing

By Gerald Jacobs, August 16, 2013

Today’s book trade has two distinct faces. Behind the smooth, younger-looking one sit Penguin Random House and Amazon-type conglomerates with their armies of marketing men and women. The other, more lined face is made up of independent publishers, small bookshops and individual enthusiasts.

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Review: Building: Isaiah Berlin, Letters 1960-1975

By Josh Glancy, August 11, 2013

Isaiah Berlin believed that some human values would always clash, so it is perhaps no surprise that his legacy continues to divide opinion today. To adapt an old Jewish joke, get three people to talk about Isaiah Berlin, and get five different points of view.

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A pretty much religious key to success

By Gerald Jacobs, August 7, 2013

Both the two novels by Jewish authors on the Man Booker longlist announced last week depict the claustrophobic anxieties of a young heroine locked within a powerful family hinterland. In Charlotte Mendelson’s Almost English, sparked by memories of her Hungarian grandparents, the family is, as she puts it, “the really embarrassing foreign kind”.

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The Flamethrowers

By David Herman, July 14, 2013

Rachel Kushner is an American living in LA. Her first novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award in 2008. Now comes her second, acclaimed by Vanity Fair for its “blazing prose”. Both writer and novel are being hyped to the skies. Do they deserve it?

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Hill start for essayists

By Gerald Jacobs, July 7, 2013

Many are the clanger-dropping rejections that have been handed out over the centuries to writers, from Jane Austen to JK Rowling. And not just writers. When the Beatles failed an audition at Decca, they received the legendary consolation: “Sorry guys, but groups with guitars are on the way out.”

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Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy?

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 5, 2013

Next year we shall commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. When Britain declared war on Germany scenes of jubilation were seen throughout the UK. But as the war dragged on, and as British casualty lists climbed to obscene levels, violent anti-German hysteria, cynically exploited by politicians, gripped the nation.

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When the Grass is not always greener

By Gerald Jacobs, June 21, 2013

Will new president Hassan Rouhani give the people of Iran a genuine sniff of freedom? Will its writers be able to publish without fear for their personal safety? Will its readers now be able to obtain Joyce’s Ulysses?

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All That Is

By David Herman, June 20, 2013

James Salter was born James Horowitz in New York in 1925, a contemporary of Joseph Heller and Norman Mailer and, like theirs, his first book was based on his experience in the military. After 12 years in the Air Force, in the mid-1950s he published his first two novels and then spent the 1960s trying to break into Hollywood as a screenwriter.

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Dead Man’s Time

By Jenni Frazer, June 13, 2013

Nine books in to his Detective Roy Grace series set in the mean streets of Brighton, and best-selling crime writer Peter James's trade-mark inventiveness shows no signs of flagging - except, and I am sorry to say so, in what appears to be an irrelevant sub-plot about Superintendent Grace's former wife, Sandy.

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Finding the Suite smell of success

By Gerald Jacobs, June 13, 2013

As you read this, Harvey Weinstein is producing a film of the late French writer Irene Nemirovsky’s spectacularly celebrated novel, Suite Francaise, starring Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Matthias Schoenaerts. Meanwhile, acclaimed translator Sandra Smith is working on her 11th Nemirovsky title, Fires of Autumn — “a First-World-War Suite Francaise”.

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