Books

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Refutations, Revisions

By Colin Shindler, October 1, 2009

By Avi Shlaim
Verso, £16.99

In this interesting collection of past writings, Avi Shlaim emotionally takes the side of the Palestinians, yet intellectually and rationally views the conflict as a clash between two national movements. While this balance is maintained in his earlier work, more recent writings are coloured by selective outrage.

More..

Rick Gekoski: The Jewish Bill Bryson

By Simon Round, October 1, 2009

He is an expatriate American who sports a beard and glasses and who enjoys writing humorously on serious subjects — but he is not Bill Bryson.

Rick Gekoski is a rare-books dealer and former academic who has written in previous books about both his work and his strange passion for Coventry City football club. But he does look like Bryson and some reviewers reckon he writes like him too. The Tatler said of him: “think Bill Bryson, just on books”.

More..

Review: My Name is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic

By Melanie Abrams, September 24, 2009

Charles Saatchi does not give interviews. He is also not appearing in this autumn’s BBC2 reality show in which he helps to discover new British art talent, X-Factor style. So what does this book of his answers to questions from critics and others reveal of this chronically reclusive man?

Interestingly, he is more open about his earlier advertising career than about his role as an art collector.

More..

The woman who puts the davening into whodunnits

By Simon Round, September 24, 2009

Next time you wander into a bookshop or browse on Amazon, check out the name Kellerman. At any given point there will usually be a Kellerman novel out, probably hovering somewhere high in the bestseller lists.

This is not surprising — Faye Kellerman is a prolific crime writer, as is her husband Jonathan… and their son Jesse has carved his own career as a novelist and playwright. Oh, and then there is 17-year-old Aliza, whose first book, co-written with her mother, is selling briskly too.

More..

'Tis Jolly to be flies

By Angela Kiverstein, September 24, 2009

Matthew Buzzington is a normal 10-year-old boy — except he has a superpower. He can turn into a fly. Well, he really, really believes he can. He just has to try a bit harder. Andy Stanton brings the inventiveness of his Mr Gum books to a simpler format for The Story of Matthew Buzzington (Barrington Stoke, £4.99). Will Matthew perfect his superpower, defeat the bully Pineapple Johnson and save his school from robbers? A metamorphic fable about self-belief and pineapples, for beginner readers of all ages.

More..

My Happiness Bears No relation To happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century

By Jonathan Beckman, September 24, 2009

By Adina Hoffman
Yale, £17.99

The Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, praised by Eliot Weinberger as “the most accessible and delightful poet alive today”, was born in 1931 in the village of Saffuriyya in the Galilee (it is now the Jewish town of Tzippori). He spent only four years at school before leaving, against the wishes of his crippled, penurious father Abu Taha, to set up a kiosk next to the family home.

More..

Review: To This Day

By Gabriel Josipovici, September 17, 2009

By SY Agnon (Trans: Hillel Halkin)
The Toby Press, £9.99

More..

Pain when a mum kept mum

By Brigit Grant, September 17, 2009

There is something wonderfully reassuring about identifying with the central character of a book, particularly when the protagonist is a good egg with a wry sense of humour and a complex mother.

That might not be you exactly, but forty-something females coping with divorce, empty-nest syndrome or the loss of a much-loved parent will find a fictional soul-sister in Ros, the finely-crafted leading lady of Olivia Lichtenstein’s addictive new novel, Things Your Mother Never Told You (Orion, £12.99).

More..

Can our heroes save the Middle East?

By Julia Weiner, September 17, 2009

Dancing With Men
By Oreet Ashery
Live Art Development, £15

The Novel of Nonel and Vovel
By Oreet Ashery and Larissa Sansour
Charta Art Books, £30

Art books tend to be glossy affairs, full of rich colour illustrations which attempt to replicate as far as possible the experience of seeing the works of art in the original. But what if, as in the case of Jerusalem-born artist Oreet Ashery, your practice is rooted in performance art? Surely DVDs are the only way to appreciate this kind of work.

More..

Review: After & Making mistakes

By Jonathan Beckman, September 9, 2009

By Gabriel Josipovici
Carcanet, £14.95

Dissatisfaction is a peculiarly middle-class indulgence. A life that from the outside appears perfect — moderate success, sufficient income, a loving family — can from feel from within claustrophobic and merely adequate, plagued by thoughts of the successes unachieved, the ones that got away, and a nagging lack of purpose.

Gabriel Josipovici’s two new novellas — each barely over 130 pages and issued together under one, elegant cover — both deal with this quiet despair of the bourgeoisie.

More..