Books

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and culture in all its moods

By Dovid Katz, October 8, 2009

By Michael Wex
Souvenir Press, £18.99

Some academics have been complaining about Born to Kvetch. This is, after all, a book that has zero inhibition regarding vulgarity. It is, moreover, quite politically incorrect and provocative.

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Review: Kissinger's year: 1973

By Robert Low, October 8, 2009

By Alistair Horne
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20

As he contemplated the arrival of 1973, Henry Kissinger could be forgiven for thinking of himself as the Master of the Universe. Although still only President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, not yet Secretary of State, he was the unquestioned architect and executor of American foreign policy.

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Review: Muriel Spark: The Biography

By Gabriel Josipovici, October 1, 2009

By Martin Stannard
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25

For almost half a century, from 1957 to 1902, the novels of Muriel Spark lit up the lives of those of us who loved her work. Combining, like Stravinsky and Picasso, the profoundly serious and the exquisitely light, instant accessibility and constant formal inventiveness, she was indeed a rare bird in the sky of late-20th century culture.

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Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Refutations, Revisions

By Colin Shindler, October 1, 2009

By Avi Shlaim
Verso, £16.99

In this interesting collection of past writings, Avi Shlaim emotionally takes the side of the Palestinians, yet intellectually and rationally views the conflict as a clash between two national movements. While this balance is maintained in his earlier work, more recent writings are coloured by selective outrage.

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Rick Gekoski: The Jewish Bill Bryson

By Simon Round, October 1, 2009

He is an expatriate American who sports a beard and glasses and who enjoys writing humorously on serious subjects — but he is not Bill Bryson.

Rick Gekoski is a rare-books dealer and former academic who has written in previous books about both his work and his strange passion for Coventry City football club. But he does look like Bryson and some reviewers reckon he writes like him too. The Tatler said of him: “think Bill Bryson, just on books”.

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Review: My Name is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic

By Melanie Abrams, September 24, 2009

Charles Saatchi does not give interviews. He is also not appearing in this autumn’s BBC2 reality show in which he helps to discover new British art talent, X-Factor style. So what does this book of his answers to questions from critics and others reveal of this chronically reclusive man?

Interestingly, he is more open about his earlier advertising career than about his role as an art collector.

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The woman who puts the davening into whodunnits

By Simon Round, September 24, 2009

Next time you wander into a bookshop or browse on Amazon, check out the name Kellerman. At any given point there will usually be a Kellerman novel out, probably hovering somewhere high in the bestseller lists.

This is not surprising — Faye Kellerman is a prolific crime writer, as is her husband Jonathan… and their son Jesse has carved his own career as a novelist and playwright. Oh, and then there is 17-year-old Aliza, whose first book, co-written with her mother, is selling briskly too.

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'Tis Jolly to be flies

By Angela Kiverstein, September 24, 2009

Matthew Buzzington is a normal 10-year-old boy — except he has a superpower. He can turn into a fly. Well, he really, really believes he can. He just has to try a bit harder. Andy Stanton brings the inventiveness of his Mr Gum books to a simpler format for The Story of Matthew Buzzington (Barrington Stoke, £4.99). Will Matthew perfect his superpower, defeat the bully Pineapple Johnson and save his school from robbers? A metamorphic fable about self-belief and pineapples, for beginner readers of all ages.

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My Happiness Bears No relation To happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century

By Jonathan Beckman, September 24, 2009

By Adina Hoffman
Yale, £17.99

The Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, praised by Eliot Weinberger as “the most accessible and delightful poet alive today”, was born in 1931 in the village of Saffuriyya in the Galilee (it is now the Jewish town of Tzippori). He spent only four years at school before leaving, against the wishes of his crippled, penurious father Abu Taha, to set up a kiosk next to the family home.

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Review: To This Day

By Gabriel Josipovici, September 17, 2009

By SY Agnon (Trans: Hillel Halkin)
The Toby Press, £9.99

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