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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Irving Penn: Small Trades

By Clive Sinclair, April 22, 2010

By Virginia A Heckert and Anne Lacoste
J. Paul Getty Museum, £34.99


The Political Right In Israel: Different Faces of Jewish Populism

By Colin Shindler, April 15, 2010

By Dani Filc
Routledge £75

Why do so many impoverished Israelis vote for the Right? Netanyahu's policies of privatisation and empowerment of the private sector clearly seem to be against their interests. Yet they shout: "Long live Bibi and Israel".


The world turned upside down: the global battle over god, truth and power

By David Conway, April 15, 2010

By Melanie Phillips
Encounter Books, £13.99

Many westerners subscribe to one or more of the following propositions, all patently false according to Melanie Phillips. Why they do forms the subject of her far-ranging, absorbing study.

First, in its long-running conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has always been and remains principal aggressor and they principal victims.

Second, the West was taken to war in 2003 on the false pretext that it faced imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction that the Saddam regime had manufactured and was stockpiling.


Review: Final Demands

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 8, 2010

By Frederic Raphael
JR Books, £16.99

Dust off your classical dictionary; fine-tune your ear to irony, aphorism and erudition. Frederic Raphael's Final Demands fires all his favourite literary feux d'artifice, so you may as well come duly equipped to this third novel in the Glittering Prizes trilogy.

Few readers (and viewers) over 50 need an introduction to Raphael's recurring hero Adam Morris, the too-clever-to-be-kosher Cambridge graduate who, with his coterie of media stars and academics, took the 1960s by storm, scholarship and a soupçon of Hollywood scriptwriting.