Few writers know more about the dark, sometimes scandalous workings of the music business than Norman Lebrecht, the author of "The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power" (Simon & Schuster, 1991) and the illuminating "Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros, Managers, and Corporate Politics" (Birch Lane Press, 1997). A longtime newspaper columnist and host of a BBC Radio 3 show, "Lebrecht Live," he won the Whitbread First Novel Award for "The Song of Names," a brilliant debut and a dazzling piece of fiction.
From the beginning of his career, Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua has examined the complex relationship between Israeli Jews and Arabs, most notably in his 1964 novella, "Facing the Forests," and his early novel, "The Lover," set in Israel after the 1973 war.
"An Hour in Paradise: Stories" by Joan Leegant (Norton, $23.95).
People imagine that, as a book critic, I read so much that there must be dozens of books I enjoy each year. But the truth is, books about which I am totally enthusiastic appear only every few years. Joan Leegant's terrific first book of stories, "An Hour in Paradise," is one of those books.
Jonathan Wilson's new novel, "A Palestine Affair," opens, quite spectacularly as Mark Bloomberg, a painter, and his non-Jewish American wife, Joyce, having just made love in their new Jerusalem home, go outside to their garden. A softly moaning, bleeding man in Arab dress rushes toward Mark, hugs him, then crashes to the ground dead. The man is Jacob De Groot, a Dutch Jewish poet, and his murder radically alters the lives of nearly everyone in the novel.