Oz kicks off Jewish Book Week in London

Book Week, a highlight of the Jewish calendar, will also host novelist A.B. Yehoshua.

Amos Oz 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Amos Oz 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The UK's Jewish Book Week 2009 kicked off in London on Saturday night with writer Amos Oz. Interviewed by Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, Oz spoke about his life as Israel's most famous writer and peace activist, and what lies beyond the headlines and ahead. This year's Book Week, a highlight of the Jewish calendar, will also host novelist A.B. Yehoshua. Looking at his latest book, Friendly Fire, Yehoshua will discuss the role of literature in Israel as well as share his hopes and fears for the future with BBC foreign correspondent Lyse Doucet. Also appearing at Jewish Book Week is former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, who at his session next Sunday will put forward the notion that the Jewish people must stop living in the shadow of the Holocaust as well as present the case that "the Israeli right wing has nothing to offer but sword and messiah until the day of peace comes, and once peace is achieved, the political Left will have nothing to offer in terms of new spiritual content." The event takes place at the Royal National Hotel in central London until March 1, the Book Week will host outstanding intellectuals including historians Simon Schama, who will look at how religious fervor features in American history and politics, and Simon Sebag Montefiore, as well as philosophers Alain de Botton, who discuss what makes a job fulfilling or soul-destroying, and the University of Haifa's Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, who will examine the dark side of romantic love. Novelist and Oscar winning screen writer Frederic Raphael looks back at a distinguished life in literature and film, with Tom Conti reading extracts from his work, and Alberto Manguel will look at the myth of the Wandering Jew. Speakers will address issues of international justice, genetics and identity, politics, science, art, literature, humor, history, philosophy, fashion and food. As ever, there will be a strong children's element, a book fair, Yiddish cabaret, and workshops to improve writing skills. "This will be our best Jewish Book Week ever, with the most wonderful line up of speakers," said Jewish Book Week director Geraldine D'Amico. "The audience has responded accordingly and many sessions are already sold out."