Gerald Jacobs

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.


Wolf Mankowitz - the man who did everything

By Gerald Jacobs, February 14, 2013

“A Renaissance man.”
“A sort of East End [James] Joyce.”
“A f*** ’em Jew.”


Vantage Point: Age is no barrier to your inner entertainer

By Gerald Jacobs, November 15, 2012

I don’t know if Kay D’Arcy is Jewish. Probably not. But there are undoubtedly a great many Jews who are like her — well past retirement age, overflowing with chutzpah, and possessed of the “showbiz gene”. And many of these could, and just might, follow her example.


Sally Becker looks back on a life in the war zone

By Gerald Jacobs, November 1, 2012

When former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic recently claimed at his war crimes trial in The Hague that he should be “rewarded” for his actions in the 1990s Bosnian war, Sally Becker suggested on Twitter that an appropriate reward would be a nice “rest” at the Holiday Inn, Sarajevo.


Vantage Point: I was there when The Beatles played a Jew do

By Gerald Jacobs, October 11, 2012

Whatever one feels about the current 50th birthday of the Beatles’ first single being celebrated somewhat more widely — and wildly — than the 90th anniversary of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses (not to mention Aaron’s Rod by D H Lawrence and Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf), there is no denying the 1960s’ evocative power.


The curious case of the professor of shmooze

By Gerald Jacobs, August 14, 2012

I remember my father once telling me about an occasion when he ran into somebody with whom he had been at school several decades earlier. This man had done very well in business, as he explained to my father before asking him what he did. “I’m a photographer,” my dad replied.


Nice warm side of stereotyping

By Gerald Jacobs, July 16, 2012

Are Jews more prone to generalisation than any other people? (Think about it, it's a trick question.) Even to consider this is to enter a minefield. "Typically Jewish", we say, fondly, of the man or woman who answers a question with another question.


Review: The Sunny Side of the Street - an ambitious tribute to Dorothy Fields

By Gerald Jacobs, June 28, 2012

Dorothy Fields, who died in 1974 at the age of 69, was one of the great Jewish contributors to the great American songbook. She collaborated with leading musical composers, most notably Jerome Kern on such creations as The Way You Look Tonight and A Fine Romance.