Review: A Designated Man

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 23, 2009

By Moris Farhi
Telegram, £12.99

Moris Farhi’s new literary fable takes Tolstoyan themes of war and peace, and adds Aesop’s charm and echoes of Ben Okri. A Designated Man is nonetheless as original a read as it is transporting.

The tale unfolds on Skender, an imaginary Mediterranean island of glorious geography but grim social order. Inter-family feuds and honour killings have long been the way of life, not only permitted but actually enshrined in law. To die in bed on Skender is to heap shame upon one’s kin.


Review: The London Palladium

By Michael Freedland, April 23, 2009

By Chris Woodward
Jeremy Mills Publishing, £35


Christians, Jews, love and lust

By Julia Pascal, April 16, 2009

Michael Arditti has always been fascinated by religion. His father’s family were Sephardim who settled in the UK. He was brought up as an Anglican. His own faith has provided rich source material. The tension between organised religion and individual dissent fuelled his most celebrated novel, Easter. In his latest, The Enemy of the Good (Arcadia, £11.99), he widens his vision by exploring an uneasy relationship between Christians and Jews.


Review: The Post Office Girl

By David Herman, April 16, 2009

By Stefan Zweig
Sort of Books, £7.99

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881, in the Vienna of Mahler and Freud. Between the wars, he was considered one of the great men of letters. Escaping from Vienna in the 1930s, he lived in exile in Britain, in America and finally in Brazil, where he committed suicide in 1942, convinced central-European humanism was destroyed forever.


Israel/Palestine: a clash of arms and opinions

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989
By Mark LeVine
Zed Books, £14.99

‘A Senseless, Squalid war’ — Voices From Palestine 1945-1948
By Norman Rose
The Bodley Head, £20

There is no shortage of books purporting to explain the origins and history of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. By way of justification for adding to this ever-burgeoning library, Mark LeVine, of the University of California, promises a “fresh and honest” account of the collapse of the peace process initiated at Oslo in 1993.


Review: A Life

By Natasha Lehrer, April 7, 2009

By Simone Veil
Haus, £16.99

Considering the life that Simone Veil has had, she could have written an autobiography twice as long as her allusive and fascinating memoir A Life, newly published in English translation.


What creativity means in hell

By Stoddard Martin, April 7, 2009

The Seventh Well

By Fred Wander, Trans: Michael Hofmann
Granta, £7.99

Rezso Kasztner

By Ladislaus Löb
Pimlico, £12.99


Review: The Informers

By David Herman, April 2, 2009

By Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Trans: Anne McLean)
Bloomsbury, £7.99

When Gabriel Santoro, a young journalist, publishes his first book, it is well received except for one reviewer who savages it — his father. The father is a distinguished professor and lawyer and he does not just take against his son’s book. He hates it. Clearly, the son has crossed some line. But what is it?


Review: About Time - Growing old disgracefully

By Julia Neuberger, April 2, 2009

By Irma Kurtz
John Murray, £16.99

‘Before grey hair you shall stand up,” our Torah tells us. Respect for the old is deeply ingrained in Jewish thought, and our sense of communal obligation towards our old and frail is strongly felt across our community. And yet, despite the homes we support, the volunteers we involve and the activities we provide, I often think we have failed, in some quite profound way, to get to grips with the emotions of ageing.


Review: The Samaritan’s Secret

By Jenni Frazer, March 26, 2009

By Matt Rees
Atlantic Books, £11.99

There is something slightly unsavoury about reading Matt Rees’s latest Palestinian thriller in the wake of the Gaza conflict. It is the third outing for his rather unappealing hero, Omar Yussef, whose base as a history teacher in Bethlehem is not what you might think of as the ideal background for a dogged detective.