Books

Lunch with the man who ate the world

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Food critic Jay Rayner dined at the best restaurants in five continents. It was in Russia that Jay Rayner came face to face with his Jewish food heritage in the most bizarre and surreal fashion.

Rayner was sitting in the Sirena, one of Moscow’s top and over-the-top restaurants. It is, says Rayner, a strange place to eat. The floors are made of glass, there are sturgeon and carp swimming beneath the feet of the oligarchs perusing the menu.

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Review: Hebrew Manuscripts

By David Breuer Weil, April 11, 2008

By Ilana Tahan
The British Library, £20

Hebrew manuscripts are a hidden art, not merely because they are rarely exhibited, but even when exhibited, the viewer typically sees only one spread of hundreds contained in each codex. As Ilana Tahan makes clear in her lavishly illustrated book — published on the heels of the acclaimed Sacred exhibition at the British Library last year — Hebrew manuscripts were beautifully decorated and illuminated with a wealth of imagery, from the abstract to the figurative.

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Simon Garfield: A collector confesses

By Alex Kasriel, April 10, 2008

Simon Garfield has written a book about his passion for philately.


Simon Garfield has a confession to make. He's been having an affair. But not with another woman (although that is true as well). His clandestine passion is less about midnight tristes and steamy sex, and more about visits to the Post Office, because the London-based author has an obsession with stamps.

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Inside George W's head

By Miriam Shaviv, April 4, 2008

Jacob Weisberg, editor of Bush-bashing website Slate.com, has now psychoanalysed the US President.

President Bush’s verbal gaffes have become legendary. “Is our children learning?”, he once asked; “I know how hard it is to put food on your family”; “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test”. But most of these malapropisms would probably have been forgotten were it not for 44-year-old political journalist Jacob Weisberg, who published them on slate.com, the internet magazine he edits.

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Review: If I Am Not For Myself: Journey Of An Anti-Zionist Jew

By Julia Pascal, April 4, 2008

By Mike Marqusee
Verso, £16.88

This provocative book is a mixture of family biography, travel journal and anti-Zionist polemic. All these narratives are subsumed in the dominant presence of the author’s grandfather Edward V Morand — EVM.

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Review: Walter Rothschild - The Man, The Museum And The Menagerie

By Annie Dare, April 4, 2008

By Miriam Rothschild
Natural History Museum, £9.99

Explaining quite how it was that the Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour came to address his pledge of Cabinet level support for the Zionist cause to an apparently apolitical, overweight, borderline Aspergic zoologist who had gone up to Cambridge with a flock of kiwis and driven four zebras up Piccadilly — albeit with “considerable panache” — seems to be one of the late Miriam Rothschild’s goals in this affectionate portrait of her uncle Walter.

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Review: All The Sad Young Literary Men

By Madeleine Kingsley, March 28, 2008

By Keith Gessen
William Heinemann, £12.99

Keith Gessen — New York’s hip heartthrob co-founder of n+1 magazine — calls his first novel All the Sad Young Literary Men. An alternative might be The Road from Harvard is Paved with Misdirection, for Gessen’s three Jewish male protagonists stagger out of college a touch too drunk on intellectual argument for the real fin-de-20th siecle American world.

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Canter tells a short story

By Simon Round, March 28, 2008

A comedy writer insists to Simon Round that his second novel is absolutely, definitely non-autobiographical

Jon Canter has gone to great lengths to ensure that his new comic novel is not read as autobiographical.

A Short Gentlemen tells of the fall from grace of a vertically challenged, pompous, humourless and gentile barrister. Canter himself is a six-foot-two-inch Jew, whose reputation has been forged on his wit — he has written for, among others, Lenny Henry and Fry and Laurie.

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Review: A History Of Women And The Mind Doctors From 1800 To The Present

By Sophie Lewis, March 14, 2008

By Lisa Appignanesi
Virago, £20

‘I’m always running into people’s unconscious,” remarked Marilyn Monroe, only months before she died, an empty bottle of Nembutal sleeping pills by her side. An emblem of femininity and cultural icon, in death Marilyn is also nailed as a typically unstable female, dependent on women’s drugs and beset by feminine struggles over self-image.

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Sex and Jews: it’s academic

By Dana Gloger, March 13, 2008

Is there such a thing as ‘Jewish sex’? Just about, says a lecturer behind a new book on the subject.

HE may be a mild-mannered academic, but Nathan Abrams has sex foremost in his mind. To be precise, he has become one of the country’s foremost experts on Jewish sexuality after editing a new book on the subject.

Dr Abrams, who lectures on film at Bangor University in Wales, has made it his business to investigate what is distinctive about Jewish people and their sexuality.

So what is it, then, that makes us different?

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