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Jewish Book Week

Podcasts from our annual festival of art and ideas, held at Kings Place in London.
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Jewish Book Week
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May 16, 2018

George Prochnik, in a vivid and compelling mix of biography and personal memoir, traces the life and thought of the visionary founder of the modern study of Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, from his alienated childhood in Berlin, to his emigration to the land of his dreams, where he finds himself once more a ‘stranger in a strange land’.

May 14, 2018

Freedland, Jacobson and Schama take on Donald Trump, at least figuratively, as they compete for bandwidth to expose the latest exploits of the Western World’s most powerful and contentious leader. The inspiration for a satire by Jacobson, a thriller by Freedland and steaming articles by Schama et al, Trump is the object of obsessive interest to everyone.

May 11, 2018

Steven Morris has always cooked; his photographer son Rick Pushinsky has always eaten. Just Not Kosher is a stunning collection of recipe cards that began as a family archive of Steven’s 60 years of ‘making a mess in the kitchen’. For Rick, this repository was not just a set of instructions for his father’s favourite dishes; it represented the entire story of his family, told one tablespoon at a time.

May 9, 2018

Why are ‘negative’ feelings such as self-hatred, guilt, resentment, paranoia, hysteria, and overbearing mother-love characterised as ‘Jewish’? In her sparkling debut, Devorah Baum delves into film, fiction and psychoanalysis. In so doing, she explores what it’s like to be a Jewish woman, shining a light on cultural icons from Groucho Marx to Freud, to examine what it’s like to feel Jewish, even when you’re not.

May 7, 2018

Sponsored by Dangoor Education

We are a people with the baggage of millennia. The practice and tradition contained in our book of books concerning fundamental life lessons are often forgotten or misunderstood. Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum interviews Rabbi Joseph Dweck, a leading religious voice in Anglo-Jewry today, on his interpretations of the biblical prophets.

May 4, 2018

Junior doctors turned best-selling authors, Rachel Clarke and Adam Kay, offer poignant, honest – at times hilarious – accounts of their experiences as NHS medics.

Rachel Clarke, who now works in end-of-life care, tells of her ongoing passion for a health service imperilled by bureaucratic cock-ups, while award-winning writer and performer Adam Kay, who has had a career change, hurtles from comedy to tragedy in his stunning exposé of the topsy-turvy world of the junior doctor.

May 2, 2018

The West has seen a rising tide of populist and anti-political feeling, resulting in Brexit and Trump. Eliane Glaser scrutinises this new wave of populism, looking at how we got here and where we're going, advocating the need to return to three pillars of political philosophy that have become dirty words: ideology, authority, and the state.

May 1, 2018

As Leonard Cohen has written, ‘there’s a blaze of light in every word’. Words shape our personal identities, our relationships and our societies. They are the crux of all human interactions. The relationship between writer, translator and reader is explicated by award-winning poet Sophie Herxheimer, translator Ros Schwartz and publisher Cécile Menon. 

Apr 25, 2018

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.

Apr 22, 2018

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.

Apr 20, 2018

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?

Apr 18, 2018

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 EngineerErica 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.

Apr 16, 2018

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.

Apr 12, 2018

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 

Apr 11, 2018

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.

Apr 9, 2018

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, BeatRowan 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.

Apr 5, 2018

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.

Apr 4, 2018

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.

Aug 1, 2017

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk explores the strange and sometimes monstrous nature of womanhood through the opposing figures of mother and daughter. Dreamlike and utterly compulsive, this is a delirious fairy tale of feminine potency, a story both modern and timeless.

In Three Daughters of Eve, celebrated author Elif Shafaktakes us from Istanbul to Oxford University and home again, tracing the relationship between childhood friends Peri, Shirin and Mona, re-visiting their divergent visions of Islam, femininity and God to confront the scandal that tore them apart. Gaby Wood is Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation.

 

Jul 27, 2017

In conversation with China expert, Jonathan Fenby, Oxford Professor of Modern China, Rana Mitter, and economist and broadcaster, Linda Yueh, the FT’s Gideon Rachman, author of Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century, outlines the challenge to America’s supremacy by a troubled but rising China and other ambitious Asian powers, which have the potential to transform the whole world. The consequences could be calamitous. These four leading authorities on the Far East and international affairs, analyse the new world order.  


Ian Morris has pessimistically observed that 'geopolitical shifts on the scale of China’s takeoff have always been accompanied by massive violence.' Taking in Russia and the Middle East', Jonathan Fenby describes Rachman’s book as 'the best survey of global affairs I have read for some time.'  

Jul 25, 2017

In A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever LivedAdam Rutherford tells the story of you and how you came to be. In every one of our genomes we carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex – so this is also our collective story.

In a captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford subverts many of our preconceptions. He traces where humankind has passed through or put down roots, uncovering the genetic kinship in all our footfalls. Rutherford reveals what our genes can tell us, what they should be able to tell us, and what they can never fully explain. He talks to Rohan Silva, co-founder of Second Home.

Sponsored by Hanna and Robin Klein.

This event took place on Monday 27th February 2017 as part of Jewish Book Week 2017.

Jul 20, 2017

David Rieff poses hard questions about whether remembrance has – or indeed ever could – inoculate the present against repeating the crimes of the past. Collective remembrance can be toxic, he argues, and sometimes it may be more moral to forget.

Ranging widely across some of the defining horrors of modern times – the Irish Troubles, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan Wars, the Holocaust and 9/11 – Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant and elegant essay In Praise of Forgetting is an indispensable work of moral philosophy. David Rieff is challenged by historian Simon Schama.

Sponsored by David and Judy Dangoor.

This event took place on Monday 27th February 2017 as part of Jewish Book Week 2017. 

Jul 18, 2017

Funny and moving in equal measure, Jem Lester’s Shtum and Keith Stuart’s A Boy Made of Blocks reflect the authors’ personal experiences with their autistic sons. In Shtum, Jonah – blissful in his innocence – becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled. To eight-year-old Sam in A Boy Made of Blocks the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own, but when he plays Minecraft it opens up a place where he and his father begin to rediscover both themselves and each other. In conversation with Adam Feinstein, also the father of an autistic son.

This event took place on Sunday 26 February 2017.

Jul 13, 2017

Shaul Bassi masterminded the events in the summer of 2016 to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the Venetian Ghetto, including the production in Italian of The Merchant of Venice. Paulo Gnignati is current President of the Venetian Jewish community; Jacqueline Nicholls was one of the eight artists commissioned to design the etchings for a new Venice Haggadah; and Aviad Stollman, who was involved in last summer's events, is Head of Collections at the NLI. With many visual images on display, they discuss the half-millennium of Jewish life in Venice.

Sponsored by the National Library of Israel.

This event took place on Saturday 25th February 2017 as part of Jewish Book Week 2017.

Jul 11, 2017

Philip Mansel chronicles the history of Syria’s first capital city, vividly describing Aleppo as a pinnacle of cultural and economic power. Few places are as ancient and diverse as Aleppo, a once vibrant world city, famous for its food and music, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and traded together in relative peace and harmony. Presenting many first-hand accounts for the first time, Mansel’s portrait is a poignant testament to a city shattered by Syria’s civil war. In conversation with David Abulafia.

This event took place on Sunday 26 February 2017.

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