Jewish Chronicle: Forty Autumns

Nina Willner was only five years old when she learnt that the reason she had never met her grandparents, aunts and uncles was because they were trapped behind “a curtain” in East Germany. “Someone, I thought, simply needed to pull that sheet of fabric to the side and let those poor people out,” is how she recounts her immediate thoughts as a little girl growing … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: Forty Autumns

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Standpoint Magazine: Golden Gogol

A new production of The Nose, Shostakovich’s opera based on Gogol’s mesmerisingly surreal short story, was part of this season at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. A Tarkovsky retrospective was held in Shoreditch. Any moment now, I expect to get invited to a poetry slam riffing on Mayakovsky. The Nose, one of Gogol’s Petersburg Tales, tells the story of Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov, who … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Golden Gogol

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Times Literary Supplement: How to date a feminist

There were ten men in an audience of about a hundred at How To Date a Feminist, a new play by Samantha Ellis (the author of How To Be a Heroine) at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. As a feminist, I was naturally curious to find out what it means to date me. But it quickly became clear that the feminist in question in Ellis’s play … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: How to date a feminist

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Jewish Chronicle: An interview with Deborah Levy

Hot Milk, the book for which Deborah Levy has been nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize, explores hypochondria and the troubled relationship between a mother and daughter. It is characterised by a wicked sense of humour and sublime rhythm. Previously nominated for Swimming Home (2011), a novel on the insidious harm depression can have on apparently well-turned-out people, Levy is the only female British … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: An interview with Deborah Levy

Times Literary Supplement: Big flat lies

In Newton’s Apple and Other Myths about Science, twenty-eight academics refute some of the most pervasive myths about science. Isaac Newton discovered gravity, when he sat in the orchard and an apple fell on his head, according to one of the most famous stories of scientific discovery. During his life, Newton told the apple anecdote four times, and it only became well known much later, … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Big flat lies

Money Observer: On fine wine, rare stamps and coins

Fine wine and rare stamps have been used to pass on wealth for many generations. Janet Yellen, who cautiously keeps interest rates down at the US Federal Reserve, owns a formidable collection of stamps. Friedrich Engels, who co-wrote The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, had personal assets that included 924 bottles of claret, 588 bottles of port and, of course, 156 bottles of champagne, as … Continue reading Money Observer: On fine wine, rare stamps and coins

Standpoint: Clearing the Fog of War

Through conversations with the people he meets in Ukraine, Tim Judah provides a unique picture of what is happening on the ground in wartime. Crisscrossing the country, he explores the impact of the ongoing conflict, with a focus on the lives of the majority of people, who are caught between westward-leaning nationalists and Russian-backed rebel forces. The book is not a blow-by-blow account of events … Continue reading Standpoint: Clearing the Fog of War

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Times Literary Supplement: Whose London is it anyway?

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?

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Financial Times: How to create a golden age

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

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Standpoint Magazine: The Story Of The Short Story

When short stories were still widely published in magazines, they had the capacity to react to unfolding events, writes Philip Hensher, the novelist and critic who edited these two volumes. Now the principal outlets for short story writers are no longer periodicals — apart from Standpoint and a few others — but competitions. “The dullest short stories I read from the last fifteen years were … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: The Story Of The Short Story