After 1,000 years, is this the end of the story for books?

By Anne Joseph, January 28, 2011

'The only thing more exciting than collecting boxes of Yiddish books was opening them. What treasures lay within!' writes Aaron Lansky in his book, Outwitting History, which describes his attempt "to rescue the world's abandoned Yiddish books". He began collecting in the early 1980s and eventually founded the National Yiddish Book Centre in America where 1.5 million Yiddish books are preserved.


Twentieth Century Jews: Forging Identity in the Land of Promise and in the Promised Land

By Rebecca Abrams, January 27, 2011

Monty Noam Penkower
Academic Studies Press, £54.50

On Easter Sunday, 1903, a pogrom erupted in the city of Kishinev in Bessarabia; 49 Jews were killed, 495 wounded and nearly 2,000 left homeless. Over the next three years, there were violent, antisemitic attacks throughout Russia and the Pale of Settlement, killing around 3,000 Jews and seriously wounding a further 2,000. From 1919 to 1921, ten times that number were murdered in pogroms of increasing brutality in Russia and the Ukraine.


My Innocent Absence

By Amanda Hopkinson, January 27, 2011

By Miriam Frank
Arcadia, £15.99

Miriam Frank has experienced enough in one lifetime to fill several more. Her family tree - spreading out from her German-born mother (who became a Mexican citizen) and Lithuanian-born father (who took US nationality) - maps the Jewish diaspora of the 20th century.


Off with the motley

By John Nathan, January 17, 2011

I Must Collect Myself
By Maureen Lipman
Simon & Schuster, £18.99

A Still Untitled (Not Quite) Autobiography
By Ron Moody
JR Books, £18.99

Although both of these books, by two of Britain's best-loved Jewish comedy actors, are autobiographical, neither is your classically constructed life story.


Review: All Men Are Liars

By Natasha Lehrer, January 17, 2011

Alberto Manguel (Trans Miranda France)
Alma Books, £12.99

It is a rare pleasure to come across a literary, self-reflective novel that consciously explores the treacherous nature of language and writing, while delivering the less intellectual but no less important pleasures that come from reading a thrilling detective story.


Hebrew Poems and Translations

By Nicholas de Lange, January 10, 2011

By Raphael Loewe
Society of Heshaim, Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation
2 Ashworth Road, London W9 1JY
£30 (plus £4.50 p&p)

It was at the twice-yearly meetings of the Hebrew Translation Workshop, which he founded in 1971 and presided over with a benign and somewhat schoolmasterly air for the 35 years of its existence, that I encountered Raphael Loewe as a translator and sat at his feet.


Review: The Memory Chalet

By Anthony Rudolf, January 10, 2011

By Tony Judt
William Heinemann, £16.99

Tony Judt was a brilliant historian of the European left, a social democrat, and a Jewish intellectual in the great dafka tradition. His later views on Israel were controversial and radical (the one-state solution) but they were thought through and he retained an open mind.


Review: Life is a Joke

By Madeleine Kingsley, December 31, 2010

By Rosemary Friedman
Arcadia, £11.99

Nabokov envisaged life as "a great surprise", Lewis Carroll deemed it "but a dream". At 81, Rosemary Friedman suggests in her memoir that it is a joke borrowing W. S. Gilbert's line to infer that amusement and advancing age are by no means mutually exclusive.

Friedman (one of our most deft and durable novelists) sketches pensionable years (as if with a very literary eyebrow raised at their relentless drollery) that are still shared with her lifelong love, eminent-psychiatrist husband Dennis and pass in material comfort.


Nadine Gordimer: Life Times: Stories 1952-2007

By Eva Tucker, December 30, 2010

By Rosemary Friedman
Bloomsbury £30

Nadine Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, devotes most of the 38 stories in this volume to a multi-faceted exploration of the coarsening effects apartheid had on black, coloured and white people alike. Yet, however fraught the situation, she never allows the political to obscure the personal - someone always remembers milk for the cat.


Review: Kapitoil

By Peter Moss, December 28, 2010

New York, 1999. The Twin Towers are still twins… and towers. Out of the elevator and on to the 88th floor steps a young Muslim, hero of Kapitoil, by Teddy Wayne (Duckworth, £8.99) He is soon to make his mark on the USA - not in ways more stereotypically associated with his brethren, but by intellect alone.