Gerald Jacobs

Whatley Manor

By Gerald Jacobs, July 1, 2016

The greeting we received at Whatley Manor country house hotel was refreshing. These were genuinely friendly, real people, not robots programmed to wish you a nice day.


A man, a boy, and a story about autism

By Gerald Jacobs, March 23, 2016

Former JC journalist Jem Lester is clear about the distinction between - on the one hand - himself and his severely autistic son, Noah, and - on the other- Ben Jewell, the protagonist of Lester's debut novel Shtum, and his severely autistic son, Jonah.


Argue all you like, JBW's a literary jewel

By Gerald Jacobs, March 3, 2016

Orthodox, Reform, Liberal, Conservative - we are "all one family". A benign but unremarkable sentiment, you might think. Until you realise it was Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks who, freed from the chains of office, issued this comforting message on Sunday. He may well have added "secular" or "atheist" under his breath, but I was too stunned to notice.


Weidenfeld: A master of shmooze

By Gerald Jacobs, January 21, 2016

Like many Yiddish words, shmooze has an elastic quality that renders precise translation difficult. Its meaning ranges from “charm” or “flattery”, through “persuasion” or “cajoling”, to “chattering” or “networking”. And George Weidenfeld operated along the entire spectrum.


Jewish Book Week: This is our festival of ideas

By Gerald Jacobs, December 3, 2015

'The festival will always reflect the taste of its director," Lucy Silver boldly asserts. Now in her second year of directing Jewish Book Week - the 2016 programme for which has just been released - she can draw on a breadth of interests that offers a clue to JBW's continuing success.


France: On my way with Catherine

By Gerald Jacobs, September 28, 2015

I have recently returned from floating down the sun-caressed rivers of Burgundy and Provence in the warm embrace of France's favourite actress Catherine Deneuve. Tough, eh?

All right, that's not exactly true. I was not actually in the arms of the still-stunning star of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.


The greatest critics are also theatre's greatest fans

By Gerald Jacobs, September 17, 2015

A fortnight ago in these pages John Nathan, the JC's theatre critic, advanced the cause of his profession in the face of a growing onslaught by inexperienced, and sometimes inarticulate, amateurs blogging or tweeting their opinions about the latest plays.



Rhapsody of reading

By Gerald Jacobs, March 5, 2015

Saturday night and The Genius of Gershwin. It was an audacious and imaginative decision to launch this year's Jewish Book Week with the sound of the composer of Rhapsody in Blue.

Yet, by the festival's close last Sunday, it was another colour that had registered vividly in my mind.


Washing the laundry not hands

By Gerald Jacobs, November 6, 2014

A great deal has been seen and heard lately of Jews bashing Jews, much of it laced with irony in that it has been perpetrated in the cause of solidarity.


Simon Schama: My Rembrandt masterpiece

By Gerald Jacobs, October 23, 2014

What kind of person - not American but British, with a degree in history, not art - gets invited to become the New Yorker's art critic?


It's hold the Front page as actress gets Curious

By Gerald Jacobs, June 19, 2014

'I've been writing - for the Guardian, Independent, Observer - almost as long as I've been acting," says Rebecca Front, recalling the genesis of Curious, her newly published collection of gently candid, personal essays.


Celebrating fierce woman, Elisabeth Maxwell

By Gerald Jacobs, December 19, 2013

Last week, I attended a memorial service in Oxford, in honour of a woman who, over the last 20 or so years of her long life, received numerous honours and awards to add to her academically earned MA and D.Phil from Oxford University.


The more interesting face of publishing

By Gerald Jacobs, August 16, 2013

Today’s book trade has two distinct faces. Behind the smooth, younger-looking one sit Penguin Random House and Amazon-type conglomerates with their armies of marketing men and women. The other, more lined face is made up of independent publishers, small bookshops and individual enthusiasts.


A pretty much religious key to success

By Gerald Jacobs, August 7, 2013

Both the two novels by Jewish authors on the Man Booker longlist announced last week depict the claustrophobic anxieties of a young heroine locked within a powerful family hinterland. In Charlotte Mendelson’s Almost English, sparked by memories of her Hungarian grandparents, the family is, as she puts it, “the really embarrassing foreign kind”.


Hill start for essayists

By Gerald Jacobs, July 7, 2013

Many are the clanger-dropping rejections that have been handed out over the centuries to writers, from Jane Austen to JK Rowling. And not just writers. When the Beatles failed an audition at Decca, they received the legendary consolation: “Sorry guys, but groups with guitars are on the way out.”


When the Grass is not always greener

By Gerald Jacobs, June 21, 2013

Will new president Hassan Rouhani give the people of Iran a genuine sniff of freedom? Will its writers be able to publish without fear for their personal safety? Will its readers now be able to obtain Joyce’s Ulysses?


Finding the Suite smell of success

By Gerald Jacobs, June 13, 2013

As you read this, Harvey Weinstein is producing a film of the late French writer Irene Nemirovsky’s spectacularly celebrated novel, Suite Francaise, starring Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Matthias Schoenaerts. Meanwhile, acclaimed translator Sandra Smith is working on her 11th Nemirovsky title, Fires of Autumn — “a First-World-War Suite Francaise”.


How Chasidic life inspired the latest Miller’s tale

By Gerald Jacobs, June 13, 2013

A few years ago, novelist, film director and screenwriter Rebecca Miller and her children were rowing across the lake in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, when she spotted a crowd of Chasidic families enjoying a day out in the sunshine.


Email lit sends wrong message

By Gerald Jacobs, May 30, 2013

What was the earliest English novel?

Though preceded by such eminent works of fiction as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) is often cited as the first “proper” novel written in English.


Fact (and fiction also): Budapest-based author completes a notable double

By Gerald Jacobs, May 30, 2013

Hungary is not the best place to be Jewish at the moment, with rising antisemitism and the extreme nationalist Jobbik party a major force in the country’s parliament. Earlier this month, on the eve of the World Jewish Congress’s defiant plenary assembly in Budapest, Jobbik was allowed to stage a quasi-military antisemitic rally.