I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

The Critics

The Joy of Killing

In July 1941 more than 340 Jews were beaten, humiliated and then murdered in Jedwabne in Poland by a large group of local men. Shortly afterwards the wife of one of the killers turned up to Mass wearing a fur coat that had only recently been worn to a synagogue.

Fire On The Peforming Bears

The great French socialist leader Leon Blum was much hated by the extreme right in the 1930s, and largely because he was Jewish. It should also however be remembered that he was much hated by the extreme left.

Saul Bellow Brought To Book

Saul Bellow was not the first, but he was one of the earlier and most dominant of the Jewish writers who played such a big part in 20th-century American literature.

Wiping the slate

The desire to obliterate the useless past can be found in various forms, from smashing 'superstitious' statues and images to wishing to ban 'fairy tales' from the classroom.

Bascombe Is Back

Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe is back in a new novel, Let Me Be Frank with You. The only thing John Banville doesn't like is the title.

It’s the real thing

Colm Toibin's new novel, Nora Webster, has been garnering some very high praise from the critics.

Sumer is icumen in – or not

A new book celebrates the seasons. But tell me again, how many of them are there?

Eat the frail

New Labour and others enthusiastically embraced a model of society which relegated many people to the margins while embracing and celebrating the buccaneer virtues. We have seen where that got us. Is it too late for the left to think again?

The writer cast out

Adam Thirlwell wishes us to contemplate the writer as great soul, cast out of bourgeois society for his compulsion for truth-telling. But the examples he chooses seem a little strange.

Auden on good and evil

Doing good is all very well, but best to keep it to one's self. Being good is a more slippery matter still, and the good man often shares a bed with the bad one.

A Grand Moan

The English know that nothing is really ever going to change, so, well, you have to larf, innit? But they are missing out on the far superior feelings of satisfaction and self-righteousness to be gleaned from denunciation.

The First World War – Who Done It?

Germany, like Britain, is seeing the publication of a slew of books on the hundredth anniversary of the Great War.