For about a decade, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Martin Amis was the best writer in Britain. Perhaps, apart from Philip Roth, then also at his height, the best writer in English. During these years, he wrote Money, London Fields and The Information. His prose crackled and snapped. He mixed dark and funny.
art hi-tech thriller, part mystical meditation, Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed, takes Jewish fiction down a path far removed from what she calls "Shtetlworld" - that nostalgic literary genre evoking vanished Eastern Europe.
wenty years on, David Guterson is still best known for his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), a huge bestseller that sold nearly four million copies. Though Guterson is Jewish ("We're just liberal, secular Americans with a little matzah on the side," he told the JC in 2011), his writing isn't.
Among the Parisiens of Yasmina Reza's outré and witty new novel, happiness is rare and random. But "novel" is not perhaps the mot juste as it's more a sheaf of monologues spoken by the assorted lovers, families, friends, patients, doctors and colleagues of a loosely-knit, largely Jewish, social group.
By Meg Vandermerwe Oneworld, £10.99
By Jemma Wayne Legend Press, £7.99
Haunting and multi-layered, Zebra Crossing and After Before are both novels that will linger long in the memory after reading. Fitting perhaps, then, that their protagonists are stalked by shadows of unhappy pasts and uncertain futures.
Reading Claire Hajaj's novel took me back to when, last year, I spent Shavuot in Jerusalem, walking to the Old City at dawn against the cry of the Muslim call to prayer. This is the kind of book that Ishmael's Oranges is, one that conjures up the sights, smells and sounds of the Middle East as you turn the pages.