A brilliant fool’s story of survival

Angel Wagenstein: Isaac’s Torah ISBN: 978-1-59051-245-6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Isaac Blumenfeld survives two world wars, the Holocaust and Stalin’s camps mainly by acting like a fool. A grim and witty novel about a fate that stands for the fate of many Eastern European Jews, peppered with black humour and far-reaching theological and philosophical reflections. Superb story-telling – you will laugh and cry and hopefully think about the lessons of the past for the present and the future. For this is one of the leitmotivs of the novel: Becoming an accomplice to crime by looking away when populism has its way. מזל טוב to the Bulgarian author.

Dmitry Shostakovich has written a very impressive symphony named after the massacre in Babi Yar (Ukraine), one of the settings of Wagenstein’s novel:

Mass murder and a lesson in morality

A portrait of modern Turkey’s founder


Andrew Mango:
Atatürk. The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey. ISBN: 978-1-58567-334-6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A fascinating portrait of Kemal Mustafa Atatürk, the end of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of a modern yet Muslim state.

The Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun was a contemporary of Atatürk and had studied music in France before returning to Turkey to become a renown composer.

Of missed opportunities and burning bridges

Living in an uncertain world


Zygmunt Baumann: Liquid Times. Living in an Age of Uncertainty.
ISBN: 978-0-745-63987-1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A modern day prophet explains why we feel uneasy in a globalized world, how we became disconnected from our neighbours and what shapes our existential fears. A thoughtful book, very appropriate in a time marked by “alternate facts”, delusional politicians, racism and simplistic solutions to complex problems.

Laure Mandeville: Qui est vraiment Donald Trump? ISBN 978-2-84990-3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Short and to the point. A portray of the 45th US president and the Unites States at a historical landmark.

Arlie R. Hochschild: Strangers in their own land. ISBN 978-1-62097-225-0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Climbing the empathy wall to see how people in the red states of the US feel about past, present, future and why Trump’s message appeals to them – a fascinating, frightening journey.

The ascendance of a populist like Donald Trump, the United Kingdom set to leave the EU, Turkey betraying its modern history – western societies face widespread discontent with the current state of political affairs. The contemporary Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian has written an interesting piece that came to my mind while I contemplated a world that seems to fall apart:

Before and after#Brexit