A literary salon with a twist (or two). We discovered hidden Yiddish London, heard from the frontline of the ‘Sheitl-gate’ scandal and found out what happened to the woman who thought too much.
Who better to have opened JBW than a captivating and charismatic storyteller on the most iconic city of the world, the capital of three faiths, the prize of many conquerors, the jewel of many empires, and the eye of the storm of today's battle of civilisations: Jerusalem.
"To be a boy really means not to be a girl. To be a man means not to be a girl. To be a woman means not to be a girl. To be strong…to be a leader means not to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we've had to train everyone not to be that."
The Warsaw Anagrams is a chilling mystery set inside the Warsaw Ghetto in the early 1940s.
Norman Lebrecht's best-selling book Why Mahler? examines how a composer, scorned and rejected for decades, has come to replace Beethoven at the centre of symphonic culture.
Why is Jesus the source of fascination in modern Jewish thought? How has Christianity changed Jewish practice and how did Judaism shape the medieval imagination?
Tessa Rajak offers a radical new understanding of the translation of the Torah into Greek – the first major translation in Western culture. Its significance was far-reaching but largely forgotten. Without a Greek Bible, European history would have been entirely different.
Anat Hoffman’s world is filled with demonstrations, vigils, courtrooms and confrontations in and out of parliament. Here she shared books that inspire, direct and move her to action.
With whom have we not spent heart-warming hours there, looking out from the terrace over the beautiful and peaceful landscape, without suspecting that exactly opposite, on the mountain of Berchtesgaden, a man sat who would one day destroy it all? —Stefan Zweig, Die Welt von Gestern
When pop music meets politics, the results are often thrilling, sometimes lifechanging and never simple. 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs tracks this turbulent relationship across 33 pivotal songs that span seven decades and four continents.
Maureen Lipman has the knack of making the everyday supremely entertaining, the ordinary absurd and unexpected. Her collection of pieces, I Must Collect Myself: Choice Cuts from a Long Shelf-Life, sparkles with her inimitable prose and pithy opinions.
With consummate skill, patience and brilliance in equal measure, Martin Gilbert has recounted most of the major events of the 20th century.
Buddy Elias, Anne Frank’s only surviving relative, told us about his cousin, as he remembers her.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav was a religious Jew responsive to the challenge of Jewish secularism; Franz Kafka, a thoroughly secular Jew who loved the paradoxical parables of hasidism. Their stories and their lives reflect deeply on one another. Each died tragically young of tuberculosis.
David Ruderman spoke about the momentous world events that shaped Jewish history in the early modern era. What did the discovery of America in 1492 have to do with the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain and the resettlement of Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe?
One of the causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment. Alain de Botton tells us about his new Living Architecture project, dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of world-class modern architecture.
The internationally acclaimed ceramicist, Edmund de Waal, retraced the history of his family through an inherited collection of netsuke – tiny Japanese figurines.
Each of Ruth Fainlight’s poems is a balancing act between thought and feeling, revealing otherness within the everyday. She read from her New and Collected Poems, covering work written over 50 years.
Backed by popular demand, Christopher Bigsby returned to JBW to talk to us about Arthur Miller from 1962 – the year of Marilyn’s death – to that of the playwright’s own in 2005.
The Slow Mirror (22 minutes)
The Slow Mirror is based on a short story by Jewish-American novelist Richard Zimler, who wrote the screenplay. It was awarded the Best Drama prize by the New York City Downtown Short Film Festival.
Flash fiction, micro fiction, short shorts: this is the short story distilled to its very essence, less than 1000 words in length and often much shorter.
Miriam Frank had to adjust to new countries and new languages before becoming a successful anaesthetist and respected translator. Prolific writer Rosemary Friedman gives us an insight into the world of books, theatre and television.
“[She] happens to write like an angel.” — Simon Schama
Recipe for a delectable and stimulating talk: take an award-winning novelist and a fabulous cookbook writer. Add a flavour of Jane Austen, equal doses of intelligence, humour and sensibility. Sprinkle with business acumen, passion and sympathy. Let the audience add their pinch of salt.
Following a screening of Sephardi Voices, in which seven Jewish men and women from Iraq, Egypt, Iran and Morocco tell their stories of coexistence and persecution, emigration and new beginnings, Linda Dangoor evoked the flavours of Babylon she has captured in her cookbook and what they meant to h
Both directed by Dr Bea Lewkowicz
Moments and Memories (2005, 38 mins) This film highlights the memories and experiences of fourteen refugees and survivors who came to Britain before and after WW2, and settled in different parts of the United Kingdom.
What is unique about the short form on stage? How do you capture something and distil it down to a few minutes? In this workshop, participants learnt and played around with the basic principles of writing for performance.
Tony Grenville is the author of the first history of the refugees who fled to Britain from German-speaking lands, from their arrival in the mid-thirties, to their eventual settlement.
In his research for his biography of Simon Weisenthal, Tom Segev had access to previously unseen and recently declassified papers, rendering this the first fully documented biography of the world-renowned Nazi-hunter.
Johanna Adorjan and Merilyn Moos both grew up with vast areas of silence, things that could not be spoken about. Echoes of the holocaust linger into the silence of the next generation and it is these ripples which both writers attempt to articulate
(2007, Richard Trank, 105 min)
This was a practical writing workshop helping participants to get in touch with their poetic voices. Memories are essential ingredients for constructing poems. This workshop explored the power of stories and looked at how objects can reveal unexpected gems about our lives.
Two strikingly new voices came to JBW 2011, original and poetic, revisit the themes of loss and belonging, nourished by their own experiences. In Jenny Erbenbeck’s haunting novel, Visitation the inhabitants of a house by a lake are displaced by history, one family after the other. Julya
Pascal Bruckner is not afraid of controversy. Original and unconventional, the author of The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism has garnered praise from Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens and, of course, the brilliant polymath Clive James.
Arab and Israeli reactions to the Holocaust differ naturally and are yet closely interconnected, as the Nazi genocide of the Jews has become the object of various and often symmetrical forms of instrumentalisation on both sides of the Middle East conflict.
When his cousin was killed in the Zululand hills, journalist Kevin Bloom’s reporting of South Africa’s tempestuous social upheaval took on a deeply personal aspect.
With access to 10,000 letters and a wealth of previously unpublished material, Niall Ferguson’s compelling biography: High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg took 12 years to write.
(Keret and Geffen, 2007, 87 min)
This practical afternoon workshop got our JBW audience writing a bedtime story to read to their loved ones.
Mid-life mum Cari Rosen certainly found out that age matters in more than one hilarious way. But age is not all gloom and doom, as Jane Miller, from a considerably more advanced vantage point, considers in her literate and witty exploration. They shared anecdotes, wisdom and possibly advice.
Roger Moorhouse’s bird’s eye-view of life in Berlin under Nazism using memoirs, diaries and interviews charts the violent humbling of a once-proud metropolis: the fear, the cruelty, the petty heroism and the individual tragedy.
Most of Anne Frank’s readers come to her diary through a translation. How much has this affected our experience of this iconic piece of writing? How much is the voice we feel we know so well really the creation of her translators?
The totally true storytelling club returned for JBW 2011. We selected some of our favourite writers who revealed true moments of beauty, awkwardness, tragedy and hilarity all packaged in 10-minute stories and told with no notes. JBW 2011 theme was ‘Close Call’.
The Death of Eli Gold is a comedy, a thriller, and a meditation on love, death, aging, sex, America and fame.
The Finkler Question is the ‘first unashamedly comic novel’ to win the prestigious Booker Prize and flagrantly Jewish to boot.
Vasily Grossman is famous for his masterpiece Life and Fate and his writing as a reporter embedded within the Red Army, particularly for his powerful report on Treblinka. Robert Chandler (his translator and editor of The Road) revealed to us Grossman not only as a heroic witnes
The most popular Israeli journalist presented his latest book, a posthumous memoir of his father, the much loved and controversial politician Tommy Lapid. He also told Rachel Shabi of his vision for Israel and the part he may play in the future.
Raja Shehadeh’s uncle fled the Ottoman police, his family lost their prosperous home by the sea when Israel was created, his father was murdered and his everyday pleasure of walking in the hills around Ramallah is often ruined by checkpoints and barriers.
'A compelling account of the New Labour years...nearly every page is illuminating.' Steve Richards, Independent
'A revealing and important book by a more winning individual than I had expected to encounter.' Matthew Parris, Spectator
Linda Grant spoke to Joan Bakewell about her new novel, We Had It So Good, which takes us from the late 60s to today, following the lives of a group of friends from youthful idealism to middle-class successes, until the events of late middle-age and the new century force them to realise
Put together one of America’s best novelists – the irreverent Russian-born Gary Shteyngart – and the only UK comedian who is an expert in Yiddish – the sparkling David Schneider – and you will get a super-funny, super-sharp conversation about the future of books, media culture, the fall of th
Boualem Sansal is not afraid to tackle difficult topics. His novels, written in French, are banned in his own country, Algeria. An Unfinished Business is the story of two young men who discover their father was a Nazi who died without having paid for his crimes.
He has been called “a propagandist for Hamas” by Israeli right-wingers but sees himself as a patriot who wants to be proud of his country. He told Johann Hari what makes him angry and ashamed, his duty to fight injustice and inhumanity with his pen and his hopes for the future.
Freud escaped from Vienna with the help of a good Nazi Anton Sauerwald who in his spare time made bombs. In the book The Escape of Sigmund Freud David Coehn tells the story of their relationship.
The film, Jellyfish, captures the hidden narratives of everyday Tel-Aviv life and draws a vision of the hundred-year old city which is both more seedy and magical than often meets the eye.
Journalists Gary Younge and Jeffrey Kaye wrestled with "identity" in this thought-provoking session.
The story of the Balfour Declaration is a tale full of intrigue, betrayal, adventure, death and triumph.
The Jewish people have always been a disputatious lot. In the contemporary British Jewish community, issues such as attitudes to Israel, antisemitism, Jewish practice and schooling can be deeply divisive. Debates in the Jewish community can often be bitter, angry and alienating.
Sunday 6 March was the final day of Jewish Book Week 2011. The main festival ran from 26 February to 6 March at London's Royal National Hotel. More than 100 challenging and entertaining speakers took part in 58 sessions, presenting arguments and many different points of view.