Books

Mad and sane in Israel

By David Herman, January 22, 2009

Adam Resurrected

By Yoram Kaniuk (Trans: Seymore Simckes)
Atlantic, £7.99

The World A Moment Later

By Amir Gutfreund (Trans: Jessica Cohen)
Toby Press, £14.99

These are both big, ambitious novels about Israel, each with a rich cast of fascinating, eccentric characters. But they and their writers are very different. Kaniuk, almost 80, is a distinguished author of nearly 20 novels. Gutfreund, still in his 40s, is just starting out. More importantly, the two novels reflect different times and attitudes to writing.

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Yizhar: a pioneering chronicler of Israel

By David Aberbach, January 14, 2009

Midnight Convoy & Other stories
By S Yizhar
Toby Press, £9.99

Preliminaries
By S Yizhar
Toby Press, £14.99

S Yizhar (Yizhar Smilansky) was born in 1916 in Rehovot. When he was one, the British conquered the land from the Turks and issued the Balfour Declaration in support of a Jewish homeland. Over the next 30 years, British rule had momentous consequences not just in the evolution of the Jewish state but also in the revival of Hebrew language and literature.

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Review: Human Expressionism: the Human Figure and the Jewish experience

By Julia Weiner, January 14, 2009

By Eliane Strosberg
Somogy Art, £29

For years, it was believed that the injunction against “graven images” contained in the Second Commandment prohibited Jews from producing figurative art. However, recent research has shown that this taboo was not as strong as previously thought and difficulties in accessing training was a more likely cause for the lack of Jews working as artists.

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Abba and me, by Mrs Eban

By Simon Round, January 8, 2009

By dint of marrying one of the 20th century’s most celebrated statesmen, Suzy Eban witnessed the great events of Israel’s birth, and its subsequent struggle for survival, at close quarters.

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Review: Cartoons and Extremism

By Ivy Garlitz, January 8, 2009

By Joel Kotek
Vallentine Mitchell

Joel Kotek cites Napoleon’s observation that “A good sketch is worth more than a long discussion” as an indication of the potency of the cartoon form and the danger that results when it promotes hatred. First published in French, this study investigates the portrayal of antisemitic themes in cartoons in the Arab and Muslim world, the echoing of these subjects and images in Western media, and observes how they contribute to the increase in antisemitism.

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Review: The Third Reich At War

By David Cesarani, January 8, 2009

By Richard Evans
Allen Lane, £30

In most Second World War histories that appeared in Britain from the 1940s until the 1980s there was little about antisemitism or the persecution and mass murder of Europe’s Jews. Few biographies of Hitler made this central to his world view or a determining influence on his conduct of the war. British researchers tended to focus on social history. Some of the best were constrained by a Marxist or functionalist approach that demoted the significance of ideology, including Nazi racism.

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Review: Ticks And Crosses

By Madeleine Kingsley, December 30, 2008

By Frederic Raphael
Carcanet, £18.95

Frederic Raphael proves no less the pyrotechnic penseur in his private diaries than he is in his 20-odd novels and such cinéaste-favoured screenplays as Darling and Eyes Wide Shut.

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Jewish fighters in the forest

December 30, 2008

Fifteen years ago, Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood Holocaust blockbuster was so successful that not only was the book it was based on re-published, its original title Schindler’s Ark was changed to that of the film: Schindler’s List. Whatever the name, those who discovered Thomas Keneally’s Booker Prize-winning book only after seeing the film were rewarded with a great read.

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Murder most Freudian

By Jenni Frazer, December 30, 2008

I think of my books as Trojan horses,” says Frank Tallis. “They are detective novels, and they are meant to be entertainment — but I like to drop some nuggets in which ought to leave the reader feeling enriched.”

Indeed, so enriching are Tallis’s books that reading them is almost like taking a university refresher course — on turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna. The four titles he has so far produced, forming the crime series, The Liebermann Papers, relate the adventures of Max Liebermann, a young Jewish psychologist, and his pastry-loving detective friend.

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Review: Wishful Drinking

By Alan Montague, December 23, 2008

By Carrie Fisher
Simon & Schuster, £12.99

It was George Lucas who ruined Carrie Fisher’s life. At least, that’s what she says. He did it 31 years ago, when Fisher was only 19, by casting her in a film he was directing. The film was Star Wars and the part was Princess Leia.

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