Babel witnessed pogroms in his youth, lived through times of disdain for Jews and intellectuals, and died at the hands of Stalin’s secret police. Nonetheless, this master of the short story accomplished much. Now, with antisemitism on the rise worldwide, reading Babel reinforces the power of wit when challenging
In 1976, I sat in a Dublin bookshop, taken hostage by Caithleen, her Dada who drank and hadn’t come home, and her poor Mama off on a fateful row in the lake. In the Country Girls trilogy, Edna O’Brien’s boisterous prose grabs and never lets go.