Books

Review: Excavating Kafka

By Nicholas Murray, September 25, 2008

By James Hawes
Quercus, £14.99

Milan Kundera, impatient at the excesses of Kafka critics, once lambasted what he called "Kafkology". Without the former's elegance of style but with plenty of chutzpah, novelist and former academic Germanist James Hawes has produced an indictment of what he calls "the K.myth".

Hawes says we need to read Kafka the real writer, not the creature of "myth", and get as close as we can to "the clean, beautiful originals" in brand new translations of the original German.

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Hitler: there is still more to be learned

By Ben Barkow, September 25, 2008

Hitler, The Germans And The Final Solution
By Ian Kershaw
Yale University Press, £19.99

Hitler's empire: Nazi rule in occupied Europe
By Mark Mazower
Allen Lane

These are two works by acknowledged masters of their craft. Ian Kershaw is an historian of modern Germany and the (perhaps definitive) biographer of Hitler; Mark Mazower has written about the German occupation of Greece, the history of the Balkans and Europe in the 20th century.

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Review: A Time To Speak Out: Independent Jewish voices on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity

By Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, September 19, 2008

Edited by Anne Karpf, Brian Klug, Jacqueline Rose, Barbara Rosenbaum
Verso, £9.99

In February 2007, more than 100 "Independent Jewish Voices" issued in The Times and the JC a manifesto critical of Israeli policies. Verso, an imprint of New Left Books, has now published a collection of 27 essays, mostly by signatories to that manifesto. They are varied in content, highly personal, fascinating and controversial.

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Bringing harmony to Bosnia

By Moris Farhi, September 19, 2008

The brilliant virtuoso violinist, Ruth Waterman, recounts in her vivid book, When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo (Canterbury Press, £12.99), her experiences in Bosnia from six trips between 2002 and 2006. Her title comes from a comment she heard in a city which once had exemplified the ethos of peaceful coexistence between diverse peoples: "When Swan Lake comes to Sarajevo, it will mean we are getting back to normal."

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Review: The Secret Lives Of Sisters

By Jan Shure, September 19, 2008

by Linda Kelsey
Hodder, £6.99

If you are looking for the narrative pace and effervescent wit of Linda Kelsey's debut novel, Fifty is Not a Four-Letter Word, you may be slightly disappointed by this former Cosmopolitan and She editor's very different, second offering.

It is a darker, slower-paced, revelatory tale featuring Catherine (known as Cat) - the older and bolder of the two sisters of the title - and the narrator, Hannah, known as Mouse because of shyness so acute it occasionally causes her to lose her voice.

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Review: The Credit Draper

By Clive Sinclair, September 19, 2008

By J David Simons
Two Ravens Press £9.99

Papa Kahn, the paterfamilias who adopts a boyish refugee from Russia (though canny readers may suspect that he fathered him Over There), tells his new charge that he had originally intended to sail all the way to America, but liked Glasgow so much he stayed put. Scotland, he avows, is good news for Jews (perhaps that is why so many of us - the Grants, the Gordons, and the Sinclairs - are named to pass as Scots).

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Review: Indignation

By Bryan Cheyette, September 19, 2008

By Philip Roth
Jonathan Cape, £16.99

Reading Philip Roth's late fiction is a bit like seeing Woody Allen's recent films. Both contain echoes of past greatness and offer a new perspective, tempered with age and maturity, on recognisable lives long since transmuted into art.

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Love and War In The Pyrenees

By Rebecca Abrams, September 12, 2008

By Rosemary Bailey
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £18.99

Midnight parachute drops, secret mountain hideouts, coded messages hidden in bread crusts: the tales of derring-do in Rosemary Bailey's latest book would not be out of place in a Boys' Own adventure story.

Indeed, they do provide a certain light relief in this thorough, thought-provoking and at times deeply disturbing account of the impact of the Second World War on the villages and towns of the Pyrenees.

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Review: The Act Of Love

By Madeleine Kingsley, September 12, 2008

By Howard Jacobson
Jonathan Cape, £17.99

Howard Jacobson's new novel presses the delete button on that old adage, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." The Act of Love explores in playful and provocative detail why, instead, it is better to love and lose, than ever to love and win. Better, at least, for a man like antiquarian bookseller Felix Quinn, for whom betrayal is not undiluted heartbreak but exquisite, addictive, anguish.

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The Library at night

By Gabriel Josipovici, September 4, 2008

Alberto Manguel once used to read to the blind Borges, and it is perhaps from him that he acquired his passion for books, for all forms of writing and, above all, for libraries. In his home in rural France where, after a lifetime of wandering, this cosmopolitan Argentinian has finally settled down, he has built himself a library which appears to resemble more the library of a large institution than what you or I might have at home. Here, he tells us, he comes to read and meditate. Another, smaller room in his refurbished presbytery is devoted to writing.

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