Books

Reviews: Becoming English and Black Orchids

By Madeleine Kingsley, June 4, 2009

Becoming English
By Eva Tucker
Starhaven, £9

Black Orchids
By Gillian Slovo
Virago, £7.99

‘The past”, as LP Hartley movingly wrote, “is another country”. For Eva Tucker and Gillian Slovo, that “otherness” was more than mere metaphor. Uprooted from their countries of birth (Tucker, early, from Germany; Slovo, famously, from South Africa), both were transplanted here to a shock reality that continues to imbue their writing.

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Flying (and sex) machines

By Stoddard Martin, June 4, 2009

Fighter heroes of WW1
By Joshua Levine
Collins, £8.99

Spitfire Girls
By Carol Gould
Arrow, £6.99

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Review: The Lost Ark Of The Covenant

By Simon Rocker, June 4, 2009

Tudor Parfitt,
HarperCollins, £9.99

The lost ark of Solomon’s Temple is Judaism’s equivalent of the Holy Grail, one of the prizes most eagerly sought by archaeological trophy-hunters. Every few years a book appears claiming to have discovered the missing artefact, out of circulation for 2,500 years.

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UK faith schools are not divisive

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 27, 2009

The riots that took place in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham in 2001, followed by the terrorist attacks in the USA later that year and in London in 2005, combined to bring about fundamental changes in British educational policy and in the manner in which British citizenship is officially articulated. In concluding that all these events involved Islamist extremists, we need not ignore the genuine grievances of, particularly young, Muslims.

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Review: Under a Mushroom cloud: Europe, Iran and the Bomb

By Ali Ansari, May 27, 2009

By Emanuele Ottolenghi
Profile, £9.99

Emanuele Ottolenghi’s book is a curious mixture of plea and polemic, both supported with healthy doses of speculation. The plea — to European policy makers to prevent Iran building a nuclear arsenal — should be taken seriously, but so embedded is it within the polemic that it is in danger of being lost.

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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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