Books

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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How the modern liberal came to be defined

By David Herman, April 30, 2009

Adam Gopnik is on a whirlwind visit to London. He has been to watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, to the National Theatre and to the BBC, to appear on Radio 4’s Start the Week. The range is typical. In 1986, he wrote his first article for The New Yorker, his professional home for more than 20 years. It was about baseball, childhood and Renaissance art.

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Children's books: Prayers to unite belief systems

By Angela Kiverstein, April 23, 2009

A Muslim child and a Jewish child embrace, against a background of a large heart and a dove with olive branch, at the start of Let There Be Peace, by Jeremy Brooks (Frances Lincoln, £11.99). This collection of gentle, not-too-sentimental prayers ranges from ancient Chinese and Native American traditions, through the concentration camps to Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Bright, child-friendly illustrations by Jude Daly give the book a sunny, positive mood. Good for assemblies or home reading. Ages five to 11.

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Review: A Designated Man

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 23, 2009

By Moris Farhi
Telegram, £12.99

Moris Farhi’s new literary fable takes Tolstoyan themes of war and peace, and adds Aesop’s charm and echoes of Ben Okri. A Designated Man is nonetheless as original a read as it is transporting.

The tale unfolds on Skender, an imaginary Mediterranean island of glorious geography but grim social order. Inter-family feuds and honour killings have long been the way of life, not only permitted but actually enshrined in law. To die in bed on Skender is to heap shame upon one’s kin.

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Review: The London Palladium

By Michael Freedland, April 23, 2009

By Chris Woodward
Jeremy Mills Publishing, £35

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Christians, Jews, love and lust

By Julia Pascal, April 16, 2009

Michael Arditti has always been fascinated by religion. His father’s family were Sephardim who settled in the UK. He was brought up as an Anglican. His own faith has provided rich source material. The tension between organised religion and individual dissent fuelled his most celebrated novel, Easter. In his latest, The Enemy of the Good (Arcadia, £11.99), he widens his vision by exploring an uneasy relationship between Christians and Jews.

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Review: The Post Office Girl

By David Herman, April 16, 2009

By Stefan Zweig
Sort of Books, £7.99

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881, in the Vienna of Mahler and Freud. Between the wars, he was considered one of the great men of letters. Escaping from Vienna in the 1930s, he lived in exile in Britain, in America and finally in Brazil, where he committed suicide in 1942, convinced central-European humanism was destroyed forever.

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Israel/Palestine: a clash of arms and opinions

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989
By Mark LeVine
Zed Books, £14.99

‘A Senseless, Squalid war’ — Voices From Palestine 1945-1948
By Norman Rose
The Bodley Head, £20

There is no shortage of books purporting to explain the origins and history of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. By way of justification for adding to this ever-burgeoning library, Mark LeVine, of the University of California, promises a “fresh and honest” account of the collapse of the peace process initiated at Oslo in 1993.

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Review: A Life

By Natasha Lehrer, April 7, 2009

By Simone Veil
Haus, £16.99

Considering the life that Simone Veil has had, she could have written an autobiography twice as long as her allusive and fascinating memoir A Life, newly published in English translation.

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What creativity means in hell

By Stoddard Martin, April 7, 2009

The Seventh Well

By Fred Wander, Trans: Michael Hofmann
Granta, £7.99

Rezso Kasztner

By Ladislaus Löb
Pimlico, £12.99

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