In the Critics this week

Linda Grant on British Jewish writers, Naomi Alderman's exlusive short story and Jemima Khan intervi

In keeping with this week’s overarching theme for the magazine – Who speaks for British Jews? – our critic at large, Linda Grant, writes about the disparity of critical acclaim afforded American Jewish and British Jewish writers. “The US [Jewish experience] dazzles and obliterates, whereas the British Jewish experience is one of an uncertainty of identity, of a difficulty in establishing yourself as an individual soul or an ethnic voice.”

In the Books Interview, Sophie Elmhirst speaks to Tim Parks about his new novel The Server, the story of a woman seeking silence and self-examination on a meditative retreat. “I’m intrigued by the idea of setting a novel in a place where most people are silent,” he says. “Also, I wanted to explore a bit more the whole questions of whether these people are not, in fact, involved in something that is causing an awful lot of pain for them.”

Elsewhere in Books: Sarah Churchwell reviews The Astaires: Fred and Adele; Jane Shilling reviews Pico Iyer’s “counterbiography” The Man within My Head: Graham Greene, My Father and Me; and Naomi Alderman contributes an exclusive piece of short fiction, All the sorrow that came after, which flits between the doomed 13th century romance of a Christian man and a Jewish woman, and contemporary recollection of the author’s own study of Jewish history.

Elsewhere, Jemima Khan interview Eva Schloss, holocaust survivor, author, and stepsister of Anne Frank.  “I didn’t have any inkling that she might write a diary with such meaning,” says Schloss of the 13-year-old Frank. “She was a child, interested in clothes and fashion, in hairstyles, in boyfriends.” Schloss is the author of two books, Eva’s Story and The Promise. Hers is a life of trauma and loss of faith, later of strength and sharing her story. Of her Auschwitz tattoo she says, “I’m glad to have it because schoolchildren always want to see it. I say to them it’s very important for you to remember because when we are not around in 20 or 30 years, a new generation of youngsters will have to keep the story alive and say, yes I’ve seen somebody, I’ve seen their tattoo.”

Also in the Critics: Rachel Lichtenstein recalls a childhood spend in the jewellery world of Hatton Garden, the subject of her new book Diamond Street: the Hidden World of Hatton Garden; Ryan Gilbey reviews Wes Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom; Rachel Cooke finds Sky’s new drama Hit and Miss a bit of a miss; and Will Self discusses his (half) Jewish identity in “Madness of Crowds”.

A photograph of diarist Anne Frank, whose stepsister Eva Schloss survived Auschwitz and later wrote two memoirs.
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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink