A LITERARY CELEBRATION

My Palestinian sympathies have never prevented me from highlighting the plight of any other repressed minority or race, the Jews being no exception. Nor have they discouraged me from publishing Jewish authors whose work I admire. The emotive argument that any critic of Israeli or Zionist policies is an anti-Semite by definition is harder to maintain today when so much recent history has discredited it by illustration. In the 1980s it was still being bandied about by the defenders of Israel. If people wish to maintain the value of words, then they must use them more selectively. For myself, I think my record speaks for itself. Since the beginning of my stewardship, Quartet has published a significant number of books on Jews or by Jewish writers. The list of titles given below is by no means comprehensive regarding our output in that field. However, it should be sufficient to demonstrate to the reader that Quartet is a publishing company totally free of bias. In the end, as the saying goes, ‘Deeds are fruits, words are but leaves.’

Books published by Quartet by Jewish authors or on Jewish topics:

Pearl Abraham, Giving up America and The Romance Reader. Two novels set in the Hasidic communities of 1990s New York State.

Aharon Appelfeld, The Age of Wonders, Bedenheim 1939, For Every Sin, The Healer, The Immortal Bartfuss, Katarina, The Retreat, To the Land of the Reeds and Unto the Soul. Eight novels by one of the most revered writer survivors of the Holocaust. Most of Appelfeld’s stories are set pre-Second World War and describe Jewish communities unaware of or unresponsive to portents of the tragedy that is about to befall them. He never writes directly about the Holocaust and only occasionally about the aftermath (as in Bartfuss).

Giorgio Bassani, Behind the Door, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The Heron and The Smell of Hay. Bassani wrote about the highly assimilated Italian Jews, his masterpiece being The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which tells of the reclusive Finzi-Continis – who open their tennis court to other Jewish young people when the racial laws in Italy exclude them from public courts – and their subsequent wartime fate.

Lesley Chamberlain, The Secret Artist: A Close Reading of Sigmund Freud. Gentile author on a Jewish subject.

John Colvin, Lions of Judah. Gentile author on a Jewish subject.

Robert Eisenberg, Boychiks in the Hood. Highly entertaining travel book cum history of the Hasidic sects of Europe and North America.

Peter and Leni Gillman, ‘Collar the Lot!’. About the British wartime internment of so-called ‘enemy aliens’, many of whom were Jewish.

Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt, Worlds of Difference. Autobiographical novel about a Jewish child separated from his parents and taken to Switzerland.

Louise Lambrichs, Hannah’s Diary. Novel set in Paris in 1943, in which a Jewish woman feels forced to have an abortion.

Emanuel Litvinoff, Journey through a Small Planet. Memoir about the (Jewish) East End of London at the end of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth.

Arnost Luśtig, Darkness Has No Shadows, Diamonds of the Night, Dita Saxova, Night and Hope and A Prayer for Katarina Horowitzova. Lustig is another writer survivor, whose work deals much more directly with the Holocaust than Appelfeld’s, with books set in the camps (as in Darkness Has No Shadows) and others examining the plight of the post-war survivors (as in Dita Saxova).

Norman Manea, October Eight o’Clock. Stories about the wartime sufferings of Romanian Jews.

Monica Porter, Deadly Carousel. Biography by a Gentile author of the Hungarian actress and singer Vali Racz, who sheltered Jews during the war.

Giorgio and Nicola Pressburger, The Green Elephant. A Jewish fable.

Milton Shulman, Voltaire, Goldberg and Others. A Jewish joke book.

Abram Tertz, Little Jinx and A Voice from the Chorus. The one a novel by the Soviet dissident, the other his prison notebooks.

Arnold Wesker, The Birth of Shylock and The King’s Daughters. Journals and a short-story collection from the well-known playwright.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, Bitch, The Bitch Rules and Prozac Nation.

Hannele Zurndorfer, The Ninth of November. Autobiography telling of the author’s experiences as a child refugee from Nazi Germany.

As we meet tomorrow at Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street to celebrate the publication of the latest addition to this distinguished list – Nine Love Letters by Gerald Jacobs, the legendary Literary Editor for so many years of the Jewish Chronicle, I must say I feel proud of Quartet’s publishing efforts, especially given the world we are about to face, to bridge barriers and bring greater understanding.

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