Jewish communities have suffered a spate of horrifying anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet survival has always been the story of the Jewish people. Remembering how previous generations responded to persecution shows how light can still be found amid darkness. Consider the life of Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005), an Austrian Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to tracking down Nazi war criminals. Before … Continue reading Wall Street Journal: In a Concentration Camp, Dreams of a Café
On a recent visit to the Royal Academy, I noticed a tall, elegantly dressed man who spent quite some time admiring a square object attached to the wall. I wondered whether to tell him that far from being Russian avant-garde art, which was the theme of the exhibition, it was in fact the temperature and humidity control box. Many visitors to Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology
“Street art—you mean vandalism? No, thank you.” That was the response of a friend when I invited him to join me at the Museum of the City of New York for their recent exhibit, “City as Canvas.” His scruple was understandable but a little out-of-date. Graffiti was once something so furtive and illicit that the city of New York spent over three hundred million dollars … Continue reading First Things Magazine: Taking Art Off the Street – Museums are giving street art a home, but at what cost?
What makes a genius? Since at least the 19th century, some have said it is down to genetics, while others have argued that upbringing is decisive. More recently, the idea that genius rests on sheer hard work — the “10,000 hours” thesis popularised by the writer Malcolm Gladwell — has gained currency. The latest contribution to the debate comes from the journalist and travel writer … Continue reading Financial Times: How to create a golden age
Tucked away between office buildings by Euston station is where I found the Camden People’s Theatre. It’s a little place with colourful bunting, a cheerful selection of chairs and flowery plastic tablecloths. It’s the kind of theatre where you can buy a packet of crisps in the interval, rather than wasabi peas. I went to see a talk and two plays that were part of Whose … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Whose London is it anyway?
In his previous book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argued that the Internet diminishes our power to concentrate and contemplate. Now he turns his eye to automation: “If you want to understand the human consequences of automation”, he writes, “the first place to look is up”. Air travel has been at the vanguard of automation, and it has become safer on the whole. By the same … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Engage neutral
The most famous graphic book about the Holocaust is Maus by Art Spiegelman. Jews are drawn as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs in what is the compelling and heartbreaking story of Spiegelman’s father surviving the Holocaust. It’s drawn with virtuoso skill, and in 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Graphic novels continue to draw on that … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: New way to tell a terrible story
Notting Hill Editions was launched in 2011 to revive the art of essay writing, producing elegant, small books containing such subject matter as Deborah Levy’s response to George Orwell’s Why I Write. Now, they have widened the format, with Alison Leslie Gold’s Found and Lost. Gold is best known for co-writing Anne Frank Remembered with Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank and her family … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: Found and Lost review
At first glance, The Attack of the 50ft Women, by Catherine Mayer, looks like a sequel to Naomi Alderman’s Baileys Prize-winning novel, The Power, about women gaining physical power over men, which in turn echoes some aspects of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fantasy classic, A Handmaid’s Tale. But, far from being a fantasy, this hard-hitting, non-fiction book shows how dystopian our reality still is for women … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: The Attack of the 50ft Women – Driving on equality street
Public opinion on journalists has always been influenced by how they – or should I say we – are represented in novels, films and popular culture. In her PhD-thesis-turned-book, Sarah Lonsdale traces fictional and real journalists throughout the twentieth century. From swashbuckling Edwardian alcoholics with “special ink for hot countries which would not dry up” to the post-war alienated outsider, Lonsdale analyses how journalists have … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Of lesbians and constipation