Books

Review: The Betrayers

By David Herman, September 4, 2014

By David Bezmozgis
Viking, £12.99

The man chided: "No Yiddish and no chess? What kind of Jew are you?" The answer is, a troubled one. Baruch Kotler, the central character in The Betrayers is on the run. He has been blackmailed, betrayed and has turned betrayer. He is in a mess.

David Bezmozgis is hard to categorise. Born in Riga, in Latvia, he grew up in Canada.

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Review: Jabotinsky: A Life

By Colin Shindler, September 4, 2014

By Hillel Halkin
Yale University Press, £18.99

This is a revelatory exploration of Vladimir Jabotinsky, "father of the Israeli right". He has been projected as a colossus by Menachem Begin and succeeding generations of Likud leaders. The Zionist left, aided and abetted by David Ben-Gurion, depicted him as a neo-fascist.

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Village that defied the Nazis

By Simon Round, August 28, 2014

In the catalogue of genocide and barbarism that was the Holocaust there were heartwarming instances of people and communities risking their lives to rescue Jews. One thinks of the rescue of Danish Jews, the work of Oskar Schindler and many other cases of individual bravery.

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Review: Lucky Us

By Madeleine Kingsley, August 28, 2014

By Amy Bloom
Granta, £12.99

Amy Bloom's latest novel is the literary equivalent of sunlight on water - all dazzle and surprise. The surface story, set in 1940s America - of two young Jewish half-sisters thrown together by one mother's death and the other's defection - grabs you straight by the heart.

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Review: The Zone of Interest

By David Herman, August 28, 2014

By Martin Amis

Jonathan Cape, £18.99

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.

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Maimonides, mortality and a mysterious death

By Madeleine Kingsley, August 21, 2014

A Guide for the perplexedBy Dara Horn

W W Norton, £8.99

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.

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Components of sadness

By David Herman, August 21, 2014

Problems with people

By David Guterson

Bloomsbury, £14.99

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.

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Review: Happy Are The Happy

By Madeleine Kingsley, August 7, 2014

By Yasmina Reza
Harvill Secker, £12.99

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.

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Manual, aesthetic and heartfelt

By Peter Lawson, August 7, 2014

Manual
By Richard Berengarten
Shearsman Books, £8.95

Coming Forth By Day
By Gabriel Levin
Carcanet, £9.95

Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth

By Ruth Padel

Chatto & Windus, £10

What do we do with our hands? We hold hands, craft materials into objects, play musical inst-ruments and clap when part of an audience.

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Interview: Claire Hajaj

By Jenni Frazer, July 31, 2014

It is a fair bet that Claire Hajaj could have done without the violent political and military situation that has accompanied the publication of her first novel, Ishmael's Oranges.

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