Books

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wise and innocent

By Ray Filar, March 8, 2013

Childhood innocence trembles in Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s bitter-sweet, wartime novella and international best-seller, Noah’s Child (Atlantic, £7.99,). Six-year-old Joseph is sent by his Belgian parents to live with existentialist priest Father Pons, who hides Jewish boys from the Gestapo inside his Christian orphanage.

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Atlantic cross currents

By Robert Low, March 8, 2013

Frederic Raphael and Joseph Epstein are both distinguished Jewish writers in their 70s, Raphael is a novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter; Epstein a fine essayist, superb short-story writer and some-time academic and editor.

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Visions of death in the colours of life

By Moris Farhi, March 8, 2013

The Metropolis of Death (a fitting designation for the Auschwitz complex) offers reflections on the Holocaust by the eminent, Czech-born Israeli historian, Otto Dov Kulka.

Kulka was transferred, when still a boy of 10, from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he miraculously survived in Block BIIb — the “family camp”— for 15 months.

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The Man in Mankowitz

By Michael Stern, March 6, 2013

Wolf Mankowitz blossomed from the 1950s through to the 1980s, during which time he produced plays for the theatre, film screenplays, TV programmes, short stories and literary criticism, among other creations across several genres. He was also an expert on pottery and porcelain, an impresario, a club owner, a film-maker, broadcaster, and enjoyed a successful antique business.

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Last march after Radetzky

By David Herman, March 6, 2013

One of the most fascinating books of 2012 was Michael Hofmann’s translation of Joseph Roth’s Letters. In one of the last letters, written in 1938, Roth’s close friend, Stefan Zweig, wrote to him, asking how his new novel, The Emperor’s Tomb, was going. “Where will you be? Where can I find you?” These questions are haunting.

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An absorbing tale of woe

By Vernon Bogdanor, March 6, 2013

Those who came to Britain on the Kindertransports in 1938 and ’39 are now in the twilight of their lives and finding it difficult to come to terms with their memories. One beneficiary of the transports, Henry Grenville, has recently been able to achieve a sort of closure after being given definite evidence that his parents were murdered at Auschwitz.

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