Visitation: It's all on the house

By Jennifer Lipman, October 28, 2010

By Jenny Erpenbeck
Portobello, £10.99

History happens to people, but it leaves its mark most of all on places — such appears to be the view of German novelist, Jenny Erpenbeck. Her unsettling, quirky new novel offers a study of East Germany from the perspective of a lakeside house.

The property, a sprawling, gothic maze, bears witness to the horrors — and triumphs — of a century. Unsurprisingly, it is touched by the Holocaust and the repression of the Soviet era, but it also quietly heeds events of smaller significance; falling in love, a friendship formed over a summer.


Review: Diary of a Juvenile Delinquent

By John Nathan, October 28, 2010

By Steven Berkoff
JR Books £18.99

Despite the title, this is not a diary but a memoir. It looks back with a great deal of anger at a childhood that could have easily led to a life of petty crime and underachievement. Instead, it led to a career as a writer, theatre director and creator of some of the most distinctive stage productions this country has seen. Moreover, taking advantage of those blue eyes and chiselled features, Steven Berkoff has also carved out a lucrative career as a Hollywood villain.


The Peace Process: From Breakthrough to Breakdown

By David Goldberg, October 26, 2010

By Afif Safieh
Saqi, £16.99

Afif Safieh was Palestinian Head of Mission in London from 1990 – 2005. Subsequently, he has served in Washington - where among George Bush and his (frequently Jewish) neo-cons it must have seemed less like a promotion than a punishment - and Moscow. He is warm, witty, cultured and highly intelligent, multilingual in his eloquent advocacy of the Palestinian cause.


Review: Walking to Hollywood

By Jonathan Beckman, October 26, 2010

By Will Self
Bloomsbury, £17.99

For some, the walking cure is the only option when the talking cure has failed. At the beginning of the titular section of this book, the narrator - who shares many of Will Self's vital statistics - tells his psychiatrist Zack Busner (a regular congregant in Self's fiction) that he is going to walk to Hollywood to investigate "who killed film". Even before he has left the country, Self's rickety mental health becomes apparent when he joins forces with Scooby-Doo to blow up Pinewood Studios.


Review: The Road

By Mark Glanville, October 14, 2010

By Vasily Grossman (Trans: Robert and Elizabeth Chandler)
Maclehose Press, £20

'Why am I writing? Which truth am I confirming? Which truth do I wish to triumph?" So wrote Maxim Gorky in his report on Grossman's first novel, Glyukauf.


Review: In Ishmael's House

By Lyn Julius, October 14, 2010

By Martin Gilbert
Yale University Press, £25

Sir Martin Gilbert's In Ishmael's House, perhaps for the first time, makes accessible to a mass readership the neglected history of Jews in Muslim lands, from Afghanistan to Morocco. Spanning 14 centuries from Mohammed's bloody subjugation of the Jewish tribes of Arabia to the virtual disappearance of Jewish life in the 20th, In Ishmael's House is built on a dichotomy of contrasts -"co-operation and segregation", "protection and exclusion" - experienced by Jews in the region.


Review: Vidal

By Jan Shure, October 7, 2010

By Vidal Sassoon
Macmillan, £20

What this entertaining and inspiring autobiography makes startlingly clear is that Vidal Sassoon, now 82, belongs to that generation of Jews whose career path might have taken them in a totally different direction if poverty had not early on forced them out of education and into work.


Review: Crazy Age

By Sipora Levy, October 7, 2010

By Jane Miller
Virago, £14.99

Jane Miller's delightful book takes its title from a poem by Robert Burns and offers a fascinating journey around old age and death. Part autobiography, and part comment on other published work, it focuses on people, books and events that have shaped her life.

Born in 1932, Miller is an English professor and author of several academic books, but here she appears to be writing for herself as well as for her readers. It is this quality of intimate reflection that makes her book so enjoyable.


Simon Wiesenthal

By Robert Low, September 28, 2010

By Tom Segev
Jonathan Cape, £25

From the moment he set out to preserve the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to hunt down the Nazis who had murdered them, Simon Wiesenthal attracted enemies, and they have shown no sign of going away since his death in 2005 at the age of 96.

The latest of his critics is the writer Guy Walters, who has recently been afforded ample space in the Sunday Times and Daily Mail and on the BBC to detail his belief, previously set out in his 2009 biography of Wiesenthal, that the great so-called Nazi-hunter was a fraud.


Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

By Jonathan Beckman, September 28, 2010

By Francine Prose
Atlantic Books, £16.99

If the SS sergeant and his Dutch colleagues who arrived at 263 Prinsengracht on the morning of August 2 1944 had ransacked the annexe above it in a different fashion, its eight residents might have achieved global fame, thanks to the diary of Margot Frank.

Anne's own entry on October 14 1942 informs us that her sister was also keeping a diary, though we do not know how extensive it was.