Literature

Literary critic John Gross dies at 75

By Jennifer Lipman, January 10, 2011

The distinguished Jewish literary critic John Gross has died at the age of 75.

Mr Gross, a prolific author and commentator who was described by The Spectator as “the best-read man in Britain”, spent seven years as editor of The Times Literary Supplement.

He was also a books editor for the New York Times and the Sunday Telegraph’s theatre critic. In 1971 he chaired the judging panel of the Booker prize.

His father was a Polish-born ex-rabbinical student who later moved to Mile End and trained as a doctor.

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On this day: the first Nobel Prizes are awarded

By Jennifer Lipman, December 10, 2010

As the famous story goes, Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite – was disturbed to read his own obituary. It was less the news of his premature death than the headline: “the merchant of death is dead”.

He was desperate to change this and be remembered for something else and, accordingly, the Nobel Prize was born.

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Payout for fake Holocaust memoir

By Jessica Elgot, November 30, 2010

The publishers of a fraudulent Holocaust memoir must pay its ghost writer $10m because she did not realise Misha Defonseca’s story was a fake.

US author Ms Defonseca published “Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years” in 1997, telling a story of her survival from the Holocaust, roaming through Europe on foot, receiving food from a pack of wolves. It was a bestseller and the film rights were sold to Disney. Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel wrote the foreword for the book.

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Report: public money goes to 'anti-Israel' journal

By Simon Rocker, November 18, 2010

More than £767,000 of public money from the Arts Council has gone to the London Review of Books – a publication “virulently hostile” to Israel and Zionism, according to a new report by the media monitoring body, Just Journalism.

The literary journal received its grants from the council – which is funded by the Government and the National Lottery - over a 30-year period, JJ says.

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Guest recipe: Fromage sur Pain Grillé

By Howard Jacobson, November 4, 2010

INGREDIENTS

● Bread
● Cheese

METHOD

● This well-known dish comes without a precise recipe but will fail more often than it succeeds unless the following recommendations are heeded.

● First, get the bread right. It cannot be a sliced loaf. It cannot be wholewheat, wholemeal, wholegerm, or any of the heavy, overseeded loaves of the sort you find in health food stores. You don’t want seeds or herbs distracting your attention from the cheese.

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On this day: William Styron dies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2010

When Sophie’s Choice was first published in 1979, it provoked controversy and debate. More than 30 years later, it has been both banned and a bestseller, become part of the canon of Holocaust literature and been made into an Oscar-winning film starring Meryl Streep.

The story of a Polish, non-Jewish woman who was sent to Auschwitz with her two young children, and her life after the Holocaust in Manhattan, it won the 1980 National Book Award.

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On this day: the Statue of Liberty is dedicated

By Jennifer Lipman, October 28, 2010

Inscribed on what is perhaps America’s most famous landmark and certainly one of its most treasured, is this: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me!”

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Nicole Krauss nominated for National Book Award

By Jennifer Lipman, October 13, 2010

Jewish American author Nicole Krauss has been nominated for the prestigious National Book Award for her latest book, Great House.

The writer, married to novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, is one of five authors competing in the fiction category.

The book, her third, tells the story of reclusive novelist and an antiques dealer in Jerusalem.

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On this day: Harold Pinter wins a Nobel Prize

By Jennifer Lipman, October 13, 2010

The Nobel Prize committee praised him as a writer “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”

Born in 1930 in Hackney, Harold Pinter attended Hackney Downs school and then pursued a career on stage, screen and as a writer. He became known for plays including The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, as well as The Homecoming, for which he won a Tony award.

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Howard Jacobson wins Man Booker prize for 'The Finkler Question'

By Jennifer Lipman, October 12, 2010

Howard Jacobson has won the Man Booker prize for the first time.

His novel The Finkler Question was chosen by judges above the five other books nominated, including the favourite, C by Tom McCarthy.

Mr Jacobson has been nominated twice before for the prestigious literary award, which comes with a £50,000 prize as well as the likelihood of increased book sales. This year was the first he made the shortlist.

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