Criminal behaviour therapy

By Jenni Frazer, January 21, 2010

Frank Tallis’s sixth adventure for his Viennese psychoanalyst, Deadly Communion, (Century, £12.99) is heavy on the psych and not much cop, frankly, on the analysis — I had the murderer pegged halfway through.

Not only that, but Tallis’s eagerness to pin the crime on the, er, donkey, requires a stunt so wildly improbable that it would be bizarre even if carried out in the present day, let alone in the more staid, 19th-century Vienna.


Review: Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis

By Ariel Kahn, January 14, 2010

By Robert Crumb
Jonathan Cape, £18.99

Robert Crumb is the Woody Allen of comics, a hero of the 1960s counter-culture who revelled in the portrayal of the agonies and ecstasies of his liberated libido, while displaying all the angst of Philip Roth’s Portnoy.


Review: Mitzvah Girls

By Miriam Shaviv, January 14, 2010

By Ayala Fader
Princeton University Press £15.95

When a man passes her in the street, “Gitty”, a Chasidic girl from New York, says she steps aside. A young male Torah scholar should not be distracted by “hearing the sound of her pumps as she goes by”. The streets, she says, “belong to the men”.


Ashes in the Wind: The Destruction of Dutch Jewry

By Ben Barkow, January 7, 2010

By Jacob Presser
Souvenir Press, £15

Ashes in the Wind is Dr Jacob Presser’s classic account of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. First published in 1965, it is a product of what one might term the heroic generation of Holocaust writings, predating the tidal wave of scholarship and memoirs that began in the 1970s and which today shows little sign of receding. Its re-publication, in Arnold Pomerans’s translation, is to be welcomed.


Review: We Are All made of Glue

By Peter Moss, January 7, 2010

By Marina Lewycka
Penguin, £18.99

We all know silence.


Cripplingly funny? Just crippling

By Jenni Frazer, January 7, 2010

Maybe you just have to be in the mood for it. Maybe it is not a good idea to discover a whimsical series four books down the line. Maybe I felt a bit short-changed that I did not find Ian Sansom’s writing “cripplingly funny” as did, evidently, a previous reviewer from the Independent.

Basically, I read through the 358 pages of cock-eyed Irish charm that comprise The Bad Book Affair (Fourth Estate, £7.99) desperately searching for a story.


Review: The World of Yesterday

By David Herman, December 29, 2009

By Stefan Zweig (Trans: Anthea Bell)
Pushkin Press £20

Stefan Zweig was one of the great central European writers of the 20th century and his memoir, The World of Yesterday, is his masterpiece. It was written just before he left America for Brazil, where he and his wife committed suicide in 1942. A superb evocation of turn-of-the-century Vienna written in a series of hotel rooms, it is laden with Zweig’s awareness that he was writing about a vanished world.


Review: Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes

By Miriam Shaviv, December 29, 2009

By Tamar Yellin
St Martin’s Press £8.99

Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes is an unsettling book. A meditation on rootlessness, without saying anything particularly profound on the subject, it nonetheless conveys such a pure sense of loneliness, of yearning for home and for belonging, that it left me with a profound sense of melancholy at the end.

While not quite Waiting for Godot — in which the main characters’ boredom with life is transferred to the audience — the emotional impact here, too, seems to be a significant part of the message.


The list to end all lists

By Peter Moss, December 29, 2009

The indefatigable Ben Schott’s latest social barometer, Schott’s Almanac 2010 (Bloomsbury £16.99), curiously published together with his 2009 edition (Bloomsbury £18.99), is a gloriously random tome full of information of no real value, but huge fun nonetheless.


Top of the tales in 2009

By Angela Kiverstein, December 22, 2009

Teddy bears and teenage spies were among the highlights of children’s fiction in 2009.

Winner of the Booktrust Teenage prize was Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (Bloomsbury, £7.99, age 11 to adult), in which young Nobody Owens is brought up by strange foster parents — a vampire and a family of ghosts, while Gaiman’s Coraline, featuring sinister bogus parents with button eyes, was made into an animated film.