David Thomson is arguably the world’s greatest living film critic and writer on the movies. His New Biographical Dictionary of Film was voted by Sight and Sound the best book on film ever written. His latest book, Warner Bros, charts the history of the ultimate family business, taking us behind the scenes of the legendary Warner Brothers film studio, where Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack, unschooled immigrants, turned themselves into the moguls and masters of American fantasy. Out of their studio came some of the most iconic films of all times, from black and white musicals, through the pioneering talkie The Jazz Singer to Casablanca, East of Eden and Bonnie and Clyde.
New Statesman wine critic, Nina Caplan, explores the history of the grape, depicting delightful portraits of the eccentric characters she meets – from Catalonia to the Sussex Downs – all sharing her passion for wine. Award-winning food writer and illustrator, Elisabeth Luard, offers an enchanting food memoir, as she tells the tales of dishes gathered from her wanderings across the globe, from Crete to Ethiopia to Tasmania.
In Rick Gekoski’s Darke, the protagonist eschews the outside world, turning to philosophers and poets to make sense of humanity’s tragic essence. But just as he prepares to abjure life entirely, he is offered a chance of salvation. Jeremy Gavron’s Felix Culpa, is a stylistically experimental noir fiction, posing the question: whose stories deserve to be told? And whose words should do the telling?
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the iconic landmarks of the New York skyline; it has stood for more than 130 years, taking fourteen dramatic years to complete. In Chief Engineer, Erica Wagner tells the riveting story of the bridge’s construction and of Washington Roebling, the man who built it, one of the America’s most distinguished engineers – from military hero to pioneering civil engineer.
Irène Némirovsky was a literary superstar of the 1920s and 1930s but a controversial figure in her lifetime, seen by some as a self-hating Jew. Born in Tsarist Russia, she fled to France, becoming an overnight sensation with the publication of David Golder. Her novel Suite Française was published in 2004 to posthumous fame. Harvard Professor Susan Suleiman elucidates Némirovsky’s genius in the context of her life and death.
Racial and religious prejudice, persecution and the complexities of assimilation, forced 19th and 20th century writers and thinkers such as Kafka, Proust, Zweig, Némirovsky and Roth, to confront their Jewish identities in profound and often controversial ways. Our panel, writer George Prochnik, Professor Susan Suleiman, and curator of European collections at the NLI, Stefan Litt, elucidate.
Sponsored by the National Library of Israel
Fractured and fractious families are at the heart of two witty contemporary morality tales. Amanda Craig’s The Lie of the Land traces the trajectory of the sexually unquenchable Quentin and his unhappy partner, Lottie, whose problems only escalate when they decamp to Devon’s remote arcadia. Francesca Segal’s razor-sharp, The Awkward Age, tells of the fallout when two families merge in North London and civil war ensues.
Gabrielle Rifkind offers a unique insight into the psychology of political extremism. When we talk about IS and similar groups, we approach them as political organisations. What, however, would Sigmund Freud have made of these deadly entities? We need to ask the question: Do the inner disquiets of Islam make more sense to psychologists than to Imams? In her new book,The Psychology of Political Extremism: what Sigmund Freud would have thought about Islamic State, Rifkind argues that Islamic State is primarily seen through a political lens; the psychological motivation of such groups is poorly understood.
Seventeen years ago a suicide bomber murdered 22 people in Tel Aviv. In his meticulously researched work of non-fiction, Beat, Rowan Somerville tells the story of how the heart of a Palestinian pharmacist, killed in an act of retribution in the midst of the Second Intifada, came to save the life of a dying Israeli.
Sponsored by the UK Friends of The Abraham Fund Initiatives.
Simon Schama’s Belonging is alive with energy, character and colour. Written in his inimitable style, this is a magnificent cultural history. It spans centuries and continents, from the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 to the brink of the 20th century, telling the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers, but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice, a boxer in Georgian England, a general in Ming China and an opera composer in 19th Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California.
Doyennes of the media and stage, Melanie Phillips and Maureen Lipman, explore their politics, passions, writing, journalism and broadcasting, coinciding with the print publication of Melanie Phillips’ memoir, Guardian Angel, and her first novel, The Legacy. Interviewed by Tanya Gold.