Archive for March, 2011
Here Jake Wallis Simons reads from the later section of The English German Girl. It is 1943, at the start of the “little Blitz”. The heroine, Rosa, is working as a nurse in The London Hospital in Whitechapel. She is assigned to bring air raid casualties from the “Receiving Room” through to the wards to be treated. But when one patient is brought in, she gets more than she bargained for . . .
On April 7, Jake Wallis Simons will be speaking at the Royal Society of Arts as part of Radio 4′s exciting new series FOUR THOUGHT. He will be talking, unscripted, for 15 minutes on the subject of “what you didn’t know about Tibetan Buddhism”. Other speakers include Jonathan Sumption QC, the Independent columnist Christina Patterson, and the political scientist Professor Phil Cowley.
There will be a live studio audience. Find out more
Waterstones have named The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons as one of their “next big things”, for promotion nationwide in May.
The book has already been praised by Monica Ali as “fascinating and moving.” The eminent Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert described it as a “powerful evocation of a bygone era,” and the Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland said it is “an important subject explored by a writer to watch.”
To find out more, please visit The English German Girl website.
It may be a little odd to open a review — rather than close it — with a conclusion. But in the case of Ours Are The Streets, a novel by the Derbyshire youngster Sunjeev Sahota about a homegrown suicide bomber, such a break with convention is called for. Here goes: it didn’t blow me away.
OK, OK. But if you thought that pun was in poor taste, compare it with a line from the novel itself: “it were touching midnight when he got in and hung his brown bomber jacket up.” Yes, I know, two wrongs don’t make a right. But the difference is that my pun was intentional. Sunjeev Sahota’s was not. Read the rest of this entry »
On March 5, 1943, The Times reported the findings of an inquiry into a “London shelter disaster” at Bethnal Green Tube. According to the report, a middle-aged woman, “burdened with a bundle and a baby”, had lost her footing on the stairs and obstructed the entrance to the landing. An “elderly man” stumbled over her; within seconds “a large number of people were . . . completely blocking the stairway”. This caused a crush in which 173 people were asphyxiated.
A yellowing clipping of the story in The Times is featured in Under Attack, a new exhibition at the London Transport Museum that explores life under bombardment. There is no other mention of the disaster, the worst civilian tragedy of the Second World War.
“Nearly 200 people suffocated needlessly, and the British Government hushed it up,” says the American writer Jessica Francis Kane, whose novel about the disaster, The Report — shortlisted for two prizes in the US — comes out in the UK later this month. “Churchill feared that the accident would be used as propaganda by the enemy, who would claim that Londoners were so scared they were crushing themselves to death in their scramble for the shelters.”