Books

Review: Intuition

By Brigit Grant, May 27, 2010

By Allegra Goodman
Atlantic Books

With my own experience of laboratory life confined to the dissection of an unfortunate frog during double biology 30 years ago, a novel about medical research did not immediately spark my Bunsen.

As appreciative as I am of the remarkable efforts of - in particular - medical scientists, 344 pages of test-tube division and the splaying of rodent organs was strictly Lancet or BMJ material --- or so I thought.

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Review: Mr Rosenblum's List

By Rebecca Abrams, May 21, 2010

By Natasha Solomons
Sceptre, £12.99

When David Cameron’s Jewish great-great-grandfather, Emile Levita, pitched up in Britain from Germany in 1850s, he wasted no time in transforming himself into a proper English gentleman. He bought a grouse moor, married out, and sent his four sons to Eton. The redoubtable hero of Natasha Solomons’s delightful debut novel has similar ambitions, but encounters a number of weird and wonderful obstacles along the way, including a giant woolly pig.

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Review: Dimanche and Other Stories

By Anne Garvey, May 21, 2010

By Irène Némirovsky (Trans: Bridget Patterson)

Literary fame seldom arrives in reverse order. But Irène Némirovsky's popularity exploded with the release in 2005 of her last, unfinished work, Suite Française, depicting both the barbarity and tenderness of what she calls "the war of 1940". It has been followed by a steady stream of her earlier works.

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Review: Palestine Betrayed

By Colin Shindler, May 13, 2010

By Efraim Karsh
Yale University Press, £20

Palestine Betrayed is a detailed riposte to the version of the Israel-Palestine conflict that places the blame solely at Israel's doorstep. Efraim Karsh, Professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, charges the younger generation of Palestinian historians with avoiding an academic exploration of the Naqba and instead offering a tale of lament and tears.

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Review: World Cup Wishes

By David Herman, May 13, 2010

By Eshkol Nevo (Trans: Sondra Silverston)
Chatto & Windus

Eshkol Nevo's first, impressive novel, Homesick (2008), was on the Israeli bestseller list for 60 weeks and won two major prizes. His second, World Cup Wishes, is better still. Starting as an entertaining read about male friendship, it gets darker and more interesting, until it reaches a powerful and moving climax.

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Review: The Lessons

By Hephzibah Anderson, May 6, 2010

By Naomi Alderman
Viking, £12.99

Naomi Alderman's award-winning debut novel, Disobedience, ushered readers into the self-contained world of Orthodox Hendon. Her second, The Lessons, unfolds in a similarly cloistered environment, though at first glance its Oxford backdrop could hardly be further removed. The hushed quads and ancient spires seem a far cry from NW4's suburban semis and urban parks, yet both worlds have their own calendar, culture, and customs, and both are shaped by a tradition so intense it can feel stifling.

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Here we go again: same old 'thrills'

By Jenni Frazer, May 6, 2010

I have said before in these pages that some thriller writers who start out well, all too soon find themselves in a trap, hidebound by the parameters that they have drawn for themselves.

This is most apparent with writers who have a regular cast of characters, whose foibles and general mishegassen have to be explained from book to book.

If you start out with a 35-year-old glamorous redhead, for example, with a bad cigarette habit and a Malcolm Tucker-esque vocabulary, as one of your principals, then you are more or less obliged to reintroduce her in every book.

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Interview: Boualem Sansal

May 6, 2010

Thirty years ago, an Algerian engineer got lost and wound up in a small village, several hours out of his way. The village was spotless, with flowers growing everywhere, quite unlike others in the region. Curious, he asked around and discovered that the village chief was German. "He was a war criminal who had escaped to Egypt at the end of the war", the former engineer now recalls. "When the Algerian War of Independence started, he was sent to Algeria as a military adviser.

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Review: The Escape Of Sigmund Freud

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 29, 2010

By David Cohen
JR Books, £18.99

How fortunate that Freud's famous couch is a museum piece, no longer in professional service. Patients of the great Sigmund's successors could be mightily distracted by the secret of how this Persian-rugged antique came out of Nazified Austria to rest (along with 20 suitcases, Freud's personal library and a thousand objets d'art ) at 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.

David Cohen's masterly book reveals how, in 1938, the aged father of psychoanalysis fled Vienna thanks to the very Nazi commissar assigned to seize Freud's papers and assets.

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Review: Fear

By Jonathan Beckman, April 22, 2010

By Stefan Zweig (Trans: Anthea Bell)
Pushkin Press, £10

Irene Wagner is a bored Viennese housewife who, to vary the round of walks and tea-parties with which a woman of her position was expected to occupy herself, takes a lover - a déclassé, somewhat raffish pianist.

Leaving an assignation one day, she is confronted by a snapping harridan (whose unconvincing Billingsgate mars Andrea Bell's otherwise elegant translation), who accuses Irene of stealing her man.

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