Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
The Emperor's Tomb
Joseph Roth; Michael Hofmann, trans.
New Directions, 2013. 200 pp. US$25.95
The Emperor's Tomb - the last novel Joseph Roth wrote - is a haunting elegy to the vanished world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a magically evocative paean to the passing of time and the loss of hope.
The Emperor's Tomb runs from 1913 to 1938, from the eve of one world war to the eve of the next, from disaster to disaster. Striped with beauty and written in short propulsive chapters - full of upheavals, reversals and abrupt twists of plot - the novel powerfully sketches a time of change and loss. Prophetic and regretful, intuitive and exact, Roth tells of one man's foppish, sleepwalking, spoiled youth and then his struggle to come to terms with the uncongenial society of post-First World War Vienna, financial ruin, and the first intimations of Nazi barbarities.
Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic
Karen Wilson, ed.
University of California Press, 2013. 136 pp. US$24.95
Influenced by popular notions that the West is a place of vanishing Jews and disappearing Judaism, most people draw a blank at the words "Los Angeles Jew." Yet, the region is home to the second largest number of Jews in North America, and boasts the fourth largest Jewish population in the world, behind only Tel Aviv, New York City, and Jerusalem. This book, and its companion exhibition at the Autry National Center, reveals how Los Angeles has shaped Jewish identities and how Jewish Angelenos have shaped the metropolis.
Six incisive essays look at the mutual influence of people and place as they examine Jewish engagement with frontier society, yidishe kultur and union activism, ethnic identity and Hollywood movies, Jewish women and local politics, and Jews making music in Los Angeles. The book is illustrated with a wealth of images that illustrate how Jews, operating both at the center and the margins of power, have contributed to the place and myth called Los Angeles.
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