‘Jews are defined by words, not religion or ethnicity’

By Simon Rocker, April 11, 2013

Frank Sinatra’s daughter Nancy once released a song called, These Boots are Made for Walking. Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger’s book, Jews and Words, could have been sub-titled, These Books are Made for Talking.


Jodi Picoult on the Shoah

By Jennifer Lipman, April 4, 2013

It was perhaps inevitable that the reigning queen of moral-dilemma fiction would one day turn her attention to the Holocaust.

In her career so far — 20 novels and counting — American writer Jodi Picoult has delved into witchcraft, gun crime, suicide pacts and teenage cancer, not to mention the Amish and Native American communities.


Can a psychoanalyst see through you?

By Rebecca Abrams, April 4, 2013

Psychoanalysis and Ghostly Transmissions
By Stephen Frosh

Have you ever seen a ghost? Or felt that an event in your past needed laying to rest? Or had a strong premonition something was going to happen before it actually did? Or caught sight of your reflection in a shop window and for a moment failed to recognise yourself?


Brothers and others

By Moris Farhi, April 4, 2013

By Sayed Kashua (Trans: Mitch Ginsburg)

Deliberations on our individuality, our place in the world — whether or not our attitudes towards social, political and religious responsibilities offer acceptable meanings to life — have been major themes in literature since Antiquity.


Family in a viral spiral

By Sipora Levy, March 22, 2013

Helen Schulman’s fifth novel, This Beautiful Life, (Atlantic, £7.99), set in contemporary Manhattan, is a bold exploration of a family at breaking point, with themes of sex, love and morality.


Violence takes Israel in the right direction

By Colin Shindler, March 22, 2013

The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right
By Ami Pedahzur
Oxford University Press, £18.99

In 1969, 32 per cent of the Israeli electorate voted for the centre right and its allies. Forty years later, this had increased to more than 52 per cent, securing the premiership for Netanyahu. Israeli academic Ami Pedahzur tells the story of this remarkable transition.


Perplexed guide for life

By Natasha Lehrer, March 22, 2013

How Should a Person Be?
By Sheila Heti
Harvill Secker, £16.99

This book crashed like a kind of meteorite into the literary landscape when it was published last year in the US. It was hailed as a major literary work of extraordinary originality — and has now been longlisted in the UK for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (successor to the Orange).


New York comes to Scandinavia

By Jenni Frazer, March 14, 2013

Boston-born Derek B Miller is a senior fellow with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, with a slew of security-based academic degrees behind him. It is an unlikely background for the writer of one of the best novels of the year, the majestic Norwegian by Night, starring the magnetic, 82-year-old hero, Sheldon Horowitz.


Children's books: Hard of herring

By Angela Kiverstein, March 14, 2013

Becky’s mum has died and her dad is thinking of marrying a horrible woman who smells of herring and cooks leathery cholent. No Buts, Becky by José Patterson (Matador, £6.99) is set in Rothschild Buildings, Brick Lane, in 1908, complete with shabbes goy, shadchan, bagel woman and oy-veying bubbe.


Land of hope and story

By Simon Rocker, March 14, 2013

Five years ago, Shlomo Sand published one of the most contentious Jewish books of recent times. In The Invention of the Jewish People, which appeared in English translation in 2009, the Tel Aviv University history professor debunked the idea of Jewish peoplehood.