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Comedowns

Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, 12 July 1990

Shadows round the Moon 
by Roy Heath.
Collins, 254 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 215584 2
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... man who is given too little too late. I remember a graduation ceremony when I was put in charge of Isaac BashevisSinger, who was to receive an honorary degree. It was raining and my sole responsibility was to keep the almost-octogenerian Nobel Prize-winner dry. But Singer took it ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... utter waste of time. To Ralph Ellison: ‘I’ve never enjoyed writing letters. Vasiliki says that Isaac, whose journals she took after his death, had some uncomplimentary things to say about the way I answered letters. I deserve them. There is some wickedness hidden here and I ought to root it up, even if it should mean going to an analyst. It’s part of ...

Glasgow über Alles

Julian Loose, 8 July 1993

Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... is on the point of obliteration, and in this sense his project stands comparison with the work of Isaac BashevisSinger, and his funny, nostalgic, unsentimental stories of the Warsaw ghetto and his own Krochmalna Street. The comparison with Singer suggests itself because, despite ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick, 19 May 2005

The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... an obscure Yiddish poet furiously jealous of Ostrover, a thinly fictionalised version of Isaac BashevisSinger, who has become wildly successful in America. If only, Edelshtein thinks, he was translated, like Ostrover: he too could win recognition and glory; if only Yiddish had not been butchered. The ...

Here in Canada

D.A.N. Jones, 21 March 1985

The Engineer of Human Souls 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 571 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 9780701129316
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The Governess 
by Patricia Angadi.
Gollancz, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 575 03485 8
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The Anderson Question 
by Bel Mooney.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 9780241114568
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The Centre of the Universe is 18 Baedekerstrasse 
by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.
Hamish Hamilton, 199 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11492 6
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... the dim, cute Canadian girls and the Svejk-like Lojza. The book was written in Czech, rather as Isaac BashevisSinger writes in Yiddish, to keep the language flourishing and to be translated into English. The three other novels here are suffused with a peculiar unhappiness endured by members of the English upper ...

Internet-Enabled

Nick Richardson: Stalking James Lasdun, 25 April 2013

Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 224 pp., £14.99, February 2013, 978 0 224 09662 1
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... only if he compared Israel to apartheid South Africa; and he bought a copy of The Penitent by Isaac BashevisSinger. Lasdun found himself identifying with the novel’s protagonist, Joseph Shapiro, a ‘regular flawed and fallen human being’ like him until he bought a ticket to Israel and returned to the faith of ...

Like Beavers

Wyatt Mason: Safran Foer’s survival stories, 2 June 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hamish Hamilton, 320 pp., £14.99, June 2005, 9780241142134
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... Conjunctions ran a series of reproductions of pages from a pocket diary that had belonged to Isaac BashevisSinger. In capital letters, Singer – who emigrated from Poland to America in 1935 – filled page after page with lists of words: 15 ...

Imaginary Homelands

Salman Rushdie, 7 October 1982

... thinking, for instance, of Grass’s Danzig-become-Gdansk, of Joyce’s abandoned Dublin, of Isaac BashevisSinger and Maxine Hong Kingston and Milan Kundera and many others. It’s a long list.) On the other hand, the Indian writer, looking back at India, does so through guilt-tinted spectacles. (I am, of ...

Regret is a shabby thing

Bernard Porter: Knut Hamsun, 27 May 2010

Knut Hamsun: Dreamer and Dissenter 
by Ingar Sletten Kolloen, translated by Deborah Dawkin and Erik Skuggevik.
Yale, 378 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 300 12356 2
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Knut Hamsun: The Dark Side of Literary Brilliance 
by Monika Zagar.
Washington, 343 pp., £19.99, May 2009, 978 0 295 98946 4
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... he wanders around the city. It remains his best-known work, certainly outside Norway. According to Isaac BashevisSinger, ‘the whole modern school of literature in the 20th century stems’ from it. Its novelty derived from its intense psychological subjectivity, reminiscent of Dostoevsky, and at times of Joyce. Being ...

Levi’s Oyster

Karl Miller, 4 August 1988

The Drowned and the Saved 
by Prime Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Joseph, 170 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7181 3063 4
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... which are virtually unknown in Italy, except by some sophisticated readers of Joseph Roth, Bellow, Singer, Malamud, Potok, and of course yourself. Levi’s explained intention does not mean that there is no autobiography in the book. The wish to evoke a Jewish resistance to Nazism relates to a history which comprehends his own writings and example. And in the ...

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