Gabriele Annan is a book and film critic living in London. (March 2006)


After the Fall

Suite Française

by Irène Némirovsky, translated from the French by Sandra Smith
Irène Némirovsky was born in 1903 into a rich Jewish banking family in Kiev. They fled to Paris during the revolution, and she was educated in French schools and at the Sorbonne. By the start of World War II, she had been to a great many parties and particularly balls …

Suddenly, Last Summer

The Sea

by John Banville
John Banville is a former literary editor of The Irish Times, and the author of several distinguished works of fiction. His latest, The Sea, has a lot in common with a novel he published five years ago and called Eclipse. Both have a first-person narrator who returns to a seaside …

When the Russians Came

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

by Anonymous, translated from the German by Philip Boehm
In a recent review in these pages of two posthumous works by W.G. Sebald, perhaps the greatest of contemporary German writers, Charles Simic mentioned Sebald’s nonfiction book On the Natural History of Destruction, in which the subject was “the carpet bombing of German cities by the Allies and the strange …

Sonata for Three Hands

The Kreutzer Sonata

by Margriet de Moor, translated from the Dutch by Susan Massotty
Beethoven was the first to employ the title Kreutzer Sonata (Kreutzer was the name of a violinist he admired: he hoped he would play the sonata, but that didn’t happen); after that, Tolstoy used it for his novella, and Leos Janácek as a nickname for his first quartet. It was …

A Very Un-English Childhood

Germs: A Memoir of Childhood

by Richard Wollheim
A germ, according to the British Medical Association’s Complete Family Health Encyclopedia, is the popular term for any microorganism that causes disease. Examples include viruses and bacteria. In medicine, the word germ is used to describe simple, undifferentiated cells that are capable of developing into specialized tissues, such as the …

Love in Upper Bohemia

The Rare and the Beautiful: The Art, Loves, and Lives of the Garman Sisters

by Cressida Connolly
The Rare and the Beautiful is a multiple biography whose title is a quote from the reply that one of the Garman sisters—Kathleen—made to a young man who wanted to write her biography. By this time she was Lady Epstein, widow of the American-born sculptor Jacob Epstein, whose huge symbolic …

Lichtenberg in Love

Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl

by Gert Hofmann,translated from the German and with an afterword by Michael Hofmann
Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl was first published in 1994—a year after its author, the German novelist Gert Hofmann, died. The translation is by his son, the poet Michael Hofmann, who lives in England and the US and writes in English. You could call it another work of filial …