PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... an event-filled biography and, along the way, a captivating case study in the challenges faced by refugees attempting to remake a life ... [the elder] Wolff brought about convulsions of his own, shaking up the American postwar literary scene. His grandson’s book, as enlightening as it is engaging, measures the effects.
Sarah Abrevaya Stein
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalGenocide eradicated 98 percent of the Jews who remained in Salonica during the Second World War,\' Ms. Stein writes. She leaves the reader to wonder about the reasons for this grim efficiency in a place that had been neither as passionately anti-Semitic as, say, Poland nor as bureaucratically competent as German-occupied countries in Western Europe. She does, however, offer a scene from one of those occupied countries and a sample of their lamentable competence ... Ms. Stein skillfully draws a map of this memory-scape and poignantly traces its travails.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...engrossing ... Attentive to what he calls the \'autobiographical murmurs\' in Buber’s writing, Mr. Mendes-Flohr lends narrative fullness to Buber’s two lives, one German, the other Israeli. He also proves a worthy heir to Kaufmann. Earlier biographies—notably those by Hans Kohn and Maurice Friedman—tended toward veneration. To put Buber into dialogue with a new generation of readers, Mr. Mendes-Flohr prefers a more critical and detached approach. Still, the reader of this book cannot help adopting the view of T.S. Eliot. After meeting Buber, the poet recalled \'the strong impression that I was in the company of a great man.\'
Lionel Trilling and Adam Kirsch
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalTrilling’s stature\', Cynthia Ozick has written, \'once prodigious, is so reduced as to have become a joke to certain young critics who favor flippancy and lightness.\' A selection of some 270 of Trilling’s letters—spanning the years 1924, when Trilling was 19, to his death in 1975 at the age of 70—thus requires something of a leap of imagination ... The letters selected by Mr. Kirsch offer persuasive testimony that the contradictions Trilling discovered within himself acted as a fulcrum for his achievement, with a result that was anything but sterile. By interpreting a culture to itself, in all its complexity, and by demonstrating literature’s \'exemplary force\' in such an effort, Trilling helped to answer a still-vital question: why literature matters.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksIn this accomplished and deftly plotted debut novel, Steavenson makes clear that her training in journalism has served, too, as an apprenticeship in fiction and its embellishments. Here, clinging to facts that are arresting enough in themselves, she distills the all-too-real convulsions of politicized religion that have brought terror to Paris and elsewhere. Yet to get at more lasting truths, she gives herself license to lie, to admit subjectivity, and the consequent freedoms of fiction seem as revelatory to Steavenson as they will to her readers.