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This review is taken from PN Review 64, Volume 15 Number 2, November - December 1988.

Clive Sinclair, Diaspora Blues - A View of Israel (Heinemann) £11.95
Clive Sinclair is a perplexing writer. It is difficult to read his work and not enjoy its wit and intelligence, its verbal dexterity, its imaginative pyrotechnics; it is also difficult not to have reservations about its texture and structure, its intellectualism, the starkness and occasional brutality of its erotic content. In absorbing the various autobiographical elements in Diaspora Blues - A View of Israel, the reader begins to suspect that his or her perplexity may be echoing the author's complex position in the world: an Anglo-Jewish writer with an Anglo-Scottish name; an English writer with a Jewish history; a European writer with Jewish-American concerns, though sometimes a Jewish-American writer with Anglo-Jewish concerns: he views Israel through all of these lenses, and more. Perplexity, though, suggests bewilderment; while the reader may be bewildered, the author shows no signs - anywhere in his work - of being anything other than resolutely himself, rejoicing, as does the narrator of Blood Libels (1985), in the dermatological conflicts enacted about the body (of work) of one both scabrous and thin-skinned. In other words, a defiant honesty lies at the heart of his writing. He writes through all these claims on himself.

Nabokov is an acknowledged influence on his work, with Borges hovering further in the background: these two masters of form, textual maniacs if you like, represent one pole towards which Sinclair's fiction is drawn. Sinclair has thought a lot about the Singer brothers, Isaac Bashevis and Israel Joshua (a PhD thesis that became ...


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