Literature

Kafka's personal letters sold to Oxford library

By Jennifer Lipman, April 7, 2011

Oxford University's library has bought a collection of letters that shed light on Jewish writer Franz Kafka's personal life.

The collection, sold to the Bodleian for an undisclosed sum this week includes more than 100 letters and colour postcards sent by Kafka to his youngest sister Ottla in the early 20th century.

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On this day: Allen Ginsberg dies

By Jennifer Lipman, April 5, 2011

On his death at the age of 70, the JC eulogised Ginsberg as "a lay cantor-rabbi for the worldwide "make love not war" movement". Fourteen years later, his name and straggly-bearded image remain as iconic as they were at the height of the hippie era.

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Howard Jacobson shortlisted for 'Jewish Booker' prize

By Jennifer Lipman, April 4, 2011

Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson has been nominated for British Jewry's top literary award.

Mr Jacobson's The Finkler Question is one of six books, both fiction and non-fiction, shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize.

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End of Arts Council funding for London Review of Books

By Jennifer Lipman, March 30, 2011

A literary magazine described by historian Benny Morris as sometimes being "no more than pro-Arab propaganda" will no longer receive any government funding.

The London Review of Books (LRB), published once a fortnight, had received £767,000 of public money to pay contributors since it was founded 31 years ago. However it did not apply for Arts Council support this year.

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Philip Roth up for International Man Booker prize

By Jennifer Lipman, March 30, 2011

American author Philip Roth is in the running for the 2011 Man Booker International prize.

Mr Roth, whose 31st book Nemesis was published last year, is one of 13 finalists for the prize, which has been given out biennially since 2005 and is worth £60,000.

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James Franco is Allen Ginsberg in Howl

By Jennifer Lipman, February 23, 2011
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Oscar nominated actor James Franco stars as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl, released this week.

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Ian McEwan: Engage with Israel even if you disagree

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011

The British writer Ian McEwan has expressed his belief in the importance of engaging with Israeli politics rather than boycotting the country.

Speaking in Israel ahead of a ceremony at which he will receive this year’s Jerusalem Prize, Israel’s highest honour for foreign writers, Mr McEwan said: “You cannot isolate [literature] but I take it as a bad sign when politics permeates every corner of life”.

According to the Guardian, he added: “I don't feel I endorse every corner of Israel's domestic or foreign policy…but I feel it's right to engage with it."

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On this day: Emile Zola on trial

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011

When Zola’s J’Accuse letter was published on the front page of a French newspaper in January 1898 it was a remarkable act of bravery on its author’s part.

Written in protest at the French government’s treatment of Jewish artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason, Zola was one of a group of intellectuals and artists who sought to secure his freedom.

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Israel boycotters continue to target Ian McEwan

By Jennifer Lipman, January 31, 2011

Pro-Palestinian campaigners have stepped up calls for author Ian McEwan to boycott an awards ceremony in Jerusalem at which he is to be honoured next month.

Despite the fact that Mr McEwan has already responded to a letter from British Writers in Support of Palestine, published in the Guardian, members of the group have sent a second letter demanding he reject the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society.

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On this day: Norman Mailer is born

By Jennifer Lipman, January 31, 2011

In the canon of influential Jewish writers of the last century, Normal Mailer is up there with the likes of Phillip Roth.

The author of The Armies of the Night, The Executioner's Song and The Castle in the Forest, a man who managed to infuriate feminists in almost everything he did, feuded with Gore Vidal and once ran for the job of mayor of New York, Mailer will certainly go down as one of the greats of literary history.

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