Books

Son of Kafka, brother of Appelfeld

By Clive Sinclair, July 6, 2012

It’s Springtime for Norman Manea. Not only are Yale publishing his new novel, The Lair, but they are also reissuing two earlier works of fiction, and a collection of essays. In addition, he has recently been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a privilege granted to very few foreign writers.

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By the Skin of his Teeth

By Anthea Gerrie, June 22, 2012

John Izbicki’s autobiography, Life Between the Lines (Umbria Press, £12.95), opens with his memories of running down the street as a five-year-old, exuberantly shouting: “I am a Jew!”. As this was in Hitler’s Berlin, it gave his parents understandable cause for anxiety.

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Fifties nostalgia is rose-coloured amnesia

By Julia Neuberger, June 22, 2012

Part polemic, part autobiography, its title a riff on Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique, this presents Jessica Mann’s family story interspersed with political argument.

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David Herman interviews Jan Gross, chronicler of Polish atrocities

By David Herman, June 22, 2012

‘I was absolutely stunned. How could antisemitism persist in Poland after the war?” Three times in our conversation, Jan Gross states how he was astonished by a revelation in the course of his work as a historian. First, by the story of how Poles had massacred the Jewish half of the population of Jedwabne, a small town in eastern Poland, in July 1941.

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Witty tale of a musical Sicilian nobleman

By David Herman, June 8, 2012

A perfect hat-trick, as any football fan knows, is one goal scored with the left foot, one with the right, and a header. In 2010, Gabriel Josipovici produced a writer’s hat-trick: a book of short stories, a book of criticism and a novel, all highly acclaimed.

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Vogue editor turns to fiction

By Francesca Segal, June 8, 2012

Jubilee fever is showing no signs of fading. Along with last weekend’s Big One, there are several notable anniversaries in 2012. There is even another queen celebrating: the beloved ruler of British fashion, Alexandra Shulman, has now been editor of Vogue for 20 years, during which time she has increased its readership to well over a million.

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Sad history of Hackney Downs school

By Michael Stern, June 1, 2012

Poignantly, on May 1 this year, nearly 20 old boys of Hackney Downs school, or Grocers, as it was known, had a reunion lunch in an Edgware restaurant. They had enrolled in August 1947, which, as Geoffrey Alderman points out in his book, Hackney Downs 1976-1995, The Life and Death of a School (The Clove Club, £14), was one of its “Golden Years”.

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Jerusalem: the graphic novel

By Keith Kahn-Harris, June 1, 2012

French-Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle draws himself with minimal detail: dots for eyes and barely any mouth. As an anonymous everyman he tries to see what others don’t in some of the most remarkable places in the world.

After his graphic books reporting from Pyongyang, Shenzhen and Burma, he has turned his attention to Jerusalem.

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Susan Sontag's diaries reveal her private pain

By Rebecca Wallersteiner, June 1, 2012

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh, the second of three volumes of Susan Sontag’s journals, edited by her son, David Rieff, begins where the first ended — in the mid 1960s.

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Viennese Comedy puts Freud on the couch

By Jonathan Beckman, May 25, 2012

In Joseph Skibell’s new novel, Dr Jakob Sammelsohn, an impoverished ophthalmologist in Vienna with a non-existent sex life, falls in love with a woman he sees at the theatre. In the play’s interval, he engineers a conversation with her companion, who, it transpires, is Sigmund Freud.

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