Wednesday, 14 November 2018

AND NOW IN HEBREW: FRANCISCO VITORIA'S TREATISES ON THE INDIANS AND ON THE RIGHT TO MAKE WAR.

NATHAN RON'S TRANSLATION HAS JUST BEE PUBLISHED.


Thursday, 4 October 2018


THE INQUISITOR’S NIECE  -- A TREAT FOR HISTORICAL FICTION READERS.

The second edition of The Inquisitor's Niece has just come out. This review appeared in the Midwest Book Review:
The novel opens in Seville, Spain, in 1514, just after the deaths of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The Inquisitor General, a cardinal and bitter enemy of the Jews, has issued a decree that all Jews must convert to Christianity or face exile. In this world, "A Jew has no friends among Christians." It's not the kind of atmosphere which would encourage a Jew and a Christian to fall in love.

But Alonso and Luisa, the Inquisitor’s niece, prove the adage “Love conquers all”.

Inquisition-era Spain comes to life through the thoughts and perceptions of this couple and those who surround them… 
Readers of historical fiction will find this story absorbing and packed with historical facts and insights that well represent the atmosphere, politics, and religious and social concerns of 16th century Spain. Daily life under the darkness of the Spanish Inquisition is well detailed and teaches much about the era while supporting a compelling tale that involves readers in matters of the heart…

It deftly moves beyond the story of two frustrated would-be lovers separated by forces beyond their control, and into a world that offers hope in the face of darkness.

Historical fiction readers are in for a real treat with The Inquisitor's Niece.

Sunday, 30 September 2018


#NOBEL – THE NOVEL! JUST OUT: THREE WOMEN AND ALFRED NOBEL.



My new novel, based on the correspondence between Nobel and his Viennese mistress (A NOBEL AFFAIR, published 2017) has just appeared from Endeavour.

Three women are after Nobel: Ida wants revenge for the death of her lover, who has been killed in an accident at Nobel’s dynamite factory. Sophiewants compensation for the abuse she suffered as Nobel’s mistress. Bertie wants Nobel to atone for his lethal invention and spend the profit on a Peace Prize.

Set in fin-de-si├Ęcle Vienna, THREE WOMEN AND ALFRED NOBEL exploresthe social constraints placed on women, the traumatic effects of war on soldiers, and the ethnic tensions that lead to the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018


#AMREADING MARTHA BAILLIE, THE INCIDENT REPORT


When an incident happens in a library, the librarian must fill out a report. Baillie’s novel is a collection of reports that strays into memoir territory.
Incident Report 5, for example, is about morning anxiety. Every morning in the warmth of my bed, as I surface from sleep, fear –small as a cherry stone, cracks open behind my breastbone.
Incident Report 45 is about meeting a young man in the park, reading a children’s novel. If somebody had asked me, I would have said that a young man with a gentle expression and missing a finger, reading a children’s novel, resting before his next shift driving a taxi, was as good a person to fall in love with as anyone, but that I was not interested in more suffering. Yet she falls in love and suffers.
Suitcase Man, one of the regulars at the library, makes his appearance in several Incident Reports: He never borrows books, CDs or DVDs, never surfs the net or nervously taps messages, hunching over the keyboard, as the others do…He comes with one purpose only: to make multiple copies of the documents riding in his suitcase.
Sometimes he leaves behind notes. They all concern one subject: Verdi’s Rigoletto and the death of the hunchback’s daughter. She’s too young to know danger, one of his notes says. Ah, poor hunchback, with no right to happiness. But this time I won’t let any harm come to her. If one of those men should so much as touch a hair on her head, my gorgeous daughter with the freckled hands…I dropped the paper. I closed myself in the bathroom and stared at my hands. They were as they had always been – slim, pale and covered in freckles.

Friday, 24 August 2018


#AMREADING CALLAN WINK, A REFUGEE CRISIS


I don’t normally write about short stories, but this one (NYer August 20) got to me. The language is exquisite – ironic since the protagonist is a writer who is having a hard time writing.
To aid the process, he goes cross-country skiing, his skis chattering over the grooves of a snowmobile track. He meets a musher with his team of dogs resting, ears back, with wry grins on their lean faces. Then they range out, zigzagging, negotiating a scent stream. Sometime he goes running. His pounding feet set off the mergansers at the water’s edge, a thrashing mass of windmilling legs and pumping wings.
These timeless observations are disrupted by social science cant that jerks you back into the present: cognitive dissonance, people drawn together by trauma, talk about the refugee crisis with a woman friend who has worked in the camps. They have sex rather coolly, in the no-nonsense way it’s done today or at least the way in which it is depicted in contemporary writing. I kissed her only once, he says, and didn’t really want to kiss her anyway, but I was born in the Midwest, and they teach us there to try to be good people, and to kiss during sex. Is that so?  
But why bother to ask that question? After all, fiction is the most shameless genre. It makes no attempt to avert its lying face.