When the parents are kids

December 23, 2008

Sunday Times film critic Cosmo Landesman’s parents are at once distinctly Jewish and militantly unorthodox. The biblical commandment against sex with other folks’ spouses seems to have been disobeyed by both Fran and Jay Landesman almost as a matter of principle, with unsettling consequences for their children, of whom Cosmo is the older (writes Michael Horovitz).

In the parts of Starstruck (Macmillan, £14.99) relating to his family, Cosmo, its author, exacts a near-merciless revenge, as though impelled by the highest critical imperatives to dishonour his father and mother.


Review: The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes

By Daniella Peled, December 23, 2008

By Avraham Burg
Palgrave Macmillan £15.99

Avraham Burg was once at the very heart of the Zionist project. He is a former Knesset Speaker and a former head of the Jewish Agency. His late father, Josef, was a cabinet minister and chairman of the National Religious Party.
So when the Hebrew version of this excoriating attack on modern Zionism and the Israeli establishment was published, it created outrage.


Dose of wisdom for teenybopper dreamers

By Angela Kiverstein, December 18, 2008

My Sister’s A Pop Star
I’m So Not A Pop Star

By Kimberly Greene
Usborne, £5.99 each

Sparkly and pastel-covered, Kimberly Greene’s two books about pony-mad Samantha’s experiences as sister to teen pop-star Danni are enormously appealing to nine-to-12-year-olds. But these books have added value — and we’re not talking a tacky plastic bracelet on the cover.

Living in LA and teaching child actors in a film studio, Greene became uneasy at her pupils’ attitude — “I’m gonna be famous, I don’t need to put in the work.”


Review: Necropolis

By Angela Kiverstein, December 18, 2008

By Anthony Horowitz
Walker Books, £12.99

Spookily-clad in its dark-green, skull-embossed cover, with green dye tinting the sides of the pages like an evil moss, Anthony
Horowitz’s Necropolis is exquisitely deathly. And the contents, of course, do not disappoint.


Why this writer is not afraid of girls any more

By Anthony Horowitz, December 18, 2008

For 30 years, I’ve been nervous about girls... girls as heroes in books, that is. I’m supposed, after all, to be a writer for boys. Alex Rider, the Diamond brothers, Matt Freeman... these have been my soldiers of fortune, inhabiting a world of guns, explosions, sophisticated gadgets and fast cars, all of which might be considered effectively male. How would a girl fit into all this? Would boy readers accept her? And if she cooked or cried, would I be exposed to charges of sexism? Could I even find my way into the psyche of a 14-year-old schoolgirl?


Literary giants headline at February book festival

By Gerald Jacobs, December 16, 2008

Jewish Book Week 2009 will begin and end with generous helpings of the cream of Israeli literature, in the shape of Amos Oz, who will open the festival on February 21, and AB Yehoshua, who will close it on March 1.

Oz will be interviewed by Guardian and JC columnist Jonathan Freedland; Yehoshua by BBC foreign correspondent Lyse Doucet. In between, JBW's most lavish feast yet is expected to attract record numbers.


The literary year in our own words

December 11, 2008

January 4

It is worth reflecting that the country that gave us President Ahmadinejad has also produced a popular TV drama based on the true story of Iranian diplomats in Paris during the Nazi occupation who forged passports to help French Jews flee. It is a fair bet that this programme, in which the Holocaust is a fact, would not have been made elsewhere in the Muslim Middle East.

Ali Ansari on The Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US, by Trita Parsi


Tales from the hidden celeb Soho

By Alex Kasriel, December 11, 2008

To London’s glitterati he is known as the “Prince of Soho”, friend and confidante of celebrities and media types. But to London’s underworld fraternity he is known as something rather different: the boy who witnessed his father being gunned down in a gangland shooting.


Review: Lyrics 1964-2008

By Jenni Frazer, December 4, 2008

By Paul Simon
Simon & Schuster, £20

For more than 40 years, a short, Jewish New Yorker has been steadily turning out some of the greatest lyrics and music of our age, painting sharp and pithy word-pictures in that most ephemeral of things, the perfect pop song.


Extra curricular secrets

By Madeleine Kingsley, December 4, 2008

At Belgrave Hall, small girls of great privilege are hothoused by a fine headmistress, Lily Lidbury. The exclusive prep school on which Shirley Eskapa’s deft, dark new novel, In a Naked Place (Quartet, £15) centres, seems safe as high-end houses before the credit crunch.

Such is its cachet that parents put their daughters’ names down almost before the Apgar score is recorded. The yummiest mummies jostle for pride of place on the PTA. But Lily’s consummate professionalism conceals the loneliness of ongoing bereavement.