Review: The Butt

By Lawrence Joffe, July 18, 2008

By Will Self
Bloomsbury, £14.99

Smoking can damage your health; but giving up could adversely affect your sanity. In fact, the discarded fag-end of the opening pages in Will Self’s latest novel is a mere bit-player in a romp covering much more than the question of whether to puff or not to puff. The real butt in this moral tale is Self’s anti-hero, Tom Brodzinski, a whipping boy for the world’s problems.


Review: Gideon's Spies

By Ahron Bregman, July 11, 2008

By Gordon Thomas
JR Books, £16.99

Nine years after reviewing Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas’s book about the Mossad, for the JC, I am holding a new, updated and much expanded version. Thomas is a talented writer and his is an irresistibly exciting subject. But, in my view, if I am to find space for it on my bookshelf then it will probably go in the fiction, rather than the non-fiction section.


When Feinstein met Pasternak

By Anthony Rudolf, July 11, 2008

Talking to the dead

By Elaine Feinstein
Carcanet, £9.95

The Russian Jerusalem

By Elaine Feinstein
Carcanet, £9.95


Review: Chasing Harry Winston

By Madeleine Kingsley, July 11, 2008

By Lauren Weisberger
Harper, £6.99

Lauren Weisberger’s latest is the perfect paperback for any label-lover en vacances, laced as it is with allusions to Valentino, le Cirque, la Perla, scarlet BMW convertibles and multi-carat HW diamonds-to-go. In her third book, Weisberger, best known for The Devil Wears Prada, delivers another neat line in female friends with ultimately sound values but somewhat suspect men.


Review: City Of Thieves

By Madeleine Kingsley, July 4, 2008

By David Benioff
Sceptre, £12.99

Statistics of the Leningrad siege (632,000 dead in the 900 days, 4,000 starved in a single day) should make irredeemably grim reading. From this sombre history, however, David Benioff spins one of the year’s most captivating yarns, a swashbuckler illuminated by love among the lawlessness, by chicken soup and cut-throat chess.


Review: Swimming In A Sea Of Death: A Son's Memoir

By Julia Neuberger, July 4, 2008

By David Rieff
Granta, £12.99

‘In the valley of sorrow, spread your wings,” wrote Susan Sontag when receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer 30 years before her death. “Be cheerful, be stoic, be tranquil.” Facing her last illness, Sontag was none of these things, and David Rieff records his complicity with his mother’s denial of the fatality of her condition. Sontag, famous intellectual, critic and writer, could neither imagine a world without her in it, nor summon up any reserves of spiritual strength for that final journey.


Review: By The Rivers Of Babylon

By Miriam Halahmy, June 20, 2008

By Khalid Kishtainy
Quartet Books, £15


Review: Memories Of Eden

By Miriam Halahmy, June 20, 2008

By Violette Shamash (edited by Mira and Tony Rocca)
Forum Books, £14.99


Review: Last Days Of Babylon

By Miriam Halahmy, June 20, 2008

By Marina Benjamin
Bloomsbury, £9.99

In the 1941 Farhud (pogrom), my husband’s mother lost a relative. Ten years later, along with most of the Iraqi Jewish community, the entire family left for Israel (300 of them filled a plane). As they locked the door of their house, Muslim neighbours stood in the street crying and begging them to stay. This is a complex story, very different to the Ashkenazi Jewish experience.


Review: The Fox, The Foetus And The Fatal Injection

By Daniel Youngerwood, June 20, 2008

By Rabbi Daniel Levy
YPS, £8

“I have often heard people say that ‘Some rabbis are known as controversial whilst others are not’ … I would prefer to say that there are rabbis who speak out and rabbis who do not.”
(From The Fox, the Foetus and the Fatal Injection)