Books

Wise and innocent

By Ray Filar, March 8, 2013

Childhood innocence trembles in Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s bitter-sweet, wartime novella and international best-seller, Noah’s Child (Atlantic, £7.99,). Six-year-old Joseph is sent by his Belgian parents to live with existentialist priest Father Pons, who hides Jewish boys from the Gestapo inside his Christian orphanage.

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Atlantic cross currents

By Robert Low, March 8, 2013

Frederic Raphael and Joseph Epstein are both distinguished Jewish writers in their 70s, Raphael is a novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter; Epstein a fine essayist, superb short-story writer and some-time academic and editor.

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Visions of death in the colours of life

By Moris Farhi, March 8, 2013

The Metropolis of Death (a fitting designation for the Auschwitz complex) offers reflections on the Holocaust by the eminent, Czech-born Israeli historian, Otto Dov Kulka.

Kulka was transferred, when still a boy of 10, from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he miraculously survived in Block BIIb — the “family camp”— for 15 months.

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The Man in Mankowitz

By Michael Stern, March 6, 2013

Wolf Mankowitz blossomed from the 1950s through to the 1980s, during which time he produced plays for the theatre, film screenplays, TV programmes, short stories and literary criticism, among other creations across several genres. He was also an expert on pottery and porcelain, an impresario, a club owner, a film-maker, broadcaster, and enjoyed a successful antique business.

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Last march after Radetzky

By David Herman, March 6, 2013

One of the most fascinating books of 2012 was Michael Hofmann’s translation of Joseph Roth’s Letters. In one of the last letters, written in 1938, Roth’s close friend, Stefan Zweig, wrote to him, asking how his new novel, The Emperor’s Tomb, was going. “Where will you be? Where can I find you?” These questions are haunting.

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An absorbing tale of woe

By Vernon Bogdanor, March 6, 2013

Those who came to Britain on the Kindertransports in 1938 and ’39 are now in the twilight of their lives and finding it difficult to come to terms with their memories. One beneficiary of the transports, Henry Grenville, has recently been able to achieve a sort of closure after being given definite evidence that his parents were murdered at Auschwitz.

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Stories and pictures

By Sipora Levy, February 27, 2013

The poet and art critic, Sue Hubbard, has written a richly layered book about Paula Modersohn-Becker, a little-known but pioneering expressionist German painter of the early 20th century, whose tragically short life produced over 400 paintings and drawings of exceptional quality (Girl in White, Cinnamon Press, £8.99).

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Sisters in step: feisty, funny female fighters for Israel

By Amanda Craig, February 27, 2013

What is it like to be a woman soldier in the Israel Defence Forces? The 25-year-old Israeli novelist Shani Boianjiu has personal experience of it, and her answer is: a mixture of boredom, fear and sexual frustration.

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When email is hate mail

By Robert Low, February 22, 2013

James Lasdun is a British novelist and poet who has made his home in the US. His father was the distinguished architect, Sir Denys Lasdun, who designed the National Theatre. He has a Jewish background but not upbringing. Indeed, he was set to be confirmed into the Church of England at boarding school but pulled out when he realised he had no faith.

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Moses amid the rushes

By David Herman, February 8, 2013

A.B. Yehoshua’s latest novel is a story in two halves. It begins in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela, where Yair Moses, an Israeli film director, has come to attend a retrospective season of his films. Like Yehoshua himself, Moses is in his 70s. He has come with Ruth, his leading lady. It feels like a great director’s last hurrah, looking back over his work — and his life.

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