Books

Review: The Winter Vault

By Francesca Segal, May 27, 2009

By Anne Michaels
Bloomsbury, £16.99

Fans of Anne Michael’s have been holding their breath for a decade. Published in 1997, her first novel, Fugitive Pieces, won her several international awards as well as rapturous and near-universal critical acclaim. It holds an extraordinary position in contemporary fiction, spoken of with reverence — those who loved it felt changed by it.

Of course, there were those who could not see what all the fuss was about, and many who found her highly crafted, poetic language impenetrable. But, to her devotees, Fugitive Pieces was transcendent.

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Review: Shadow And Light

By David Herman, May 21, 2009

By Jonathan Rabb
Halban, £10.99

The ranks of good Jewish detective writers (Robert Towne’s screenplay for Chinatown, comes to mind, along with the Coen brothers and Michael Chabon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Union) are fairly thin on the ground, reason enough to welcome Jonathan Rabb’s Shadow and Light, the second in his police trilogy set in interwar Berlin.

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Review: No going back: Letters to Pope Benedict XVI

By Tony Bayfield, May 21, 2009

Carol Rittner & Stephen Smith (Eds)
Quill Press, £10

It’s a brilliant idea. Invite 40 people to put down in letter form what they would say if they had five minutes to address the Pope, turn it into a book and time publication to coincide with the Papal visit to the Middle East.

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Not just the top Jewish award

By Rachel Lasserson, May 14, 2009

When Howard Jacobson won the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate prize in 2007 for Kalooki Nights, he explained his particular affection for the prize in his acceptance speech: “All good books are essentially Jewish, so it follows that all book prizes must be Jewish.”

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Review: The Sea of Azov

By Sophie Lewis, May 14, 2009

Anne Joseph (Ed)
Five Leaves/World Jewish Relief

Chekhov was born in Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov. More than 100 years later, Anne Joseph first encountered World Jewish Relief here. It is a tenuous connection but appropriate for a collection of stories whose common theme is simply that: connections.

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Review: The Kissinger Saga

By Wilf Altman, May 14, 2009

By Evi Kurz
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £18.99

Henry Kissinger always refused to give interviews about his private life until he eventually agreed to speak to Evi Kurz, a tenacious journalist from Furth in southern Germany — where the Kissinger parents, Louis and Paula, and their sons, Walter and Henry, had lived until their escape to New York in 1938. “First you are an exile,” Paula was to exclaim years later when Henry became America’s Secretary of State, “and then you are treated like a royal highness.”

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Review: In Search Of Jerusalem

By Michael Horovitz, May 7, 2009

By Michael Kustow
Oberon Books, £18.99

Now 69, Michael Kustow grew up among North-West-London Jewry, did well in literature and drama at grammar school and Oxford, and from early on questioned the basics of both Orthodoxy and Zionism while revelling in the gastronomic, artistic, socio-intellectual, humorous-melancholic and spiritual aspects of Jewishness.

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Very small spoonful of Sugar

By Simon Round, May 7, 2009

Sir Alan Sugar might well admire Charlie Burden for Sir Alan Sugar: The Biography, (John Blake, £17.99) in the sense that Burden has thrown together a product and could well turn a nice little profit on it.

But then Sir Alan has always prided himself on the quality of his product, which is absent here. As indeed is Sir Alan himself — Burden has not interviewed the grizzled panjandrum of The Apprentice, nor does he seem to have spoken to anyone close to Sugar.

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Review: Hearts and Minds

By Madeleine Kingsley, May 7, 2009

By Amanda Craig
Little Brown, £17.99

From first to last page, from basement brothel to glitzy garden party, Amanda Craig’s new novel, set in, and all about, contemporary London, had me utterly in thrall. Hearts and Minds is a marvellously multi-faceted book, a 21st-century tale of immigrants drawn to the city that promises pavements of gold, but delivers dust, ashes and even terror to the innocent and unwary.

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Review: The Mayor’s Tongue

By Frances Shaw, April 30, 2009

By Nathaniel Rich
Chatto & Windus £11.99

There must be something in the water in Brooklyn. The past decade has spewed forth a particularly strong generation of creative, original, Jewish writers in and around New York — from Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, to Nell Freudenberger and Keith Gessen. Many have seams of fantasy or magical realism running through their prose; and the first novel published by Nathaniel Rich, one of the editors of the fabulous Paris Review, is no exception.

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