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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


Man behind this year's stand-out novel

By David Herman, September 7, 2012

You wanted to put cotton wool around them, to protect them”. The atmosphere in the room has changed. Elliot Perlman is suddenly speaking with great intensity and feeling as he remembers the Holocaust survivors he knew in Melbourne, where he grew up in the 1960s and ’70s. The Holocaust is the subject of his outstanding novel, The Street Sweeper, published earlier this year.


Words that flow like wine

By Clive Sinclair, September 7, 2012

When it comes to writers, Czernowitz — first Austro-Hungarian, then Romanian, now Ukrainian — surely merits its own Appellation d’origine contrôlée. There must be something in its terroir that causes (or caused) it to produce so many great novelists and poets: Aharon Appelfeld, Norman Manea, Dan Pagis, Paul Celan; not to mention Gregor von Rezzori.


Digging for Diamonds and other gems in the Garden

By Natasha Lehrer, August 31, 2012

In June 1940, a small boy and several members of his extended family — parents, uncles, aunts and cousins —– were bound by ship for England, on the run from occupied Belgium.