Arikha has a forensic understanding of the forces that hold families together or blows them apart.
Evelyn Waugh admiringly observed that Christopher Isherwood never struggled to avoid a cliché because a cliché would never occur to him in the first place, a compliment that can be applied to Arikha's precise, economic prose. full review
Best books of 2018: Where to Find Me is a short novel that feels longer in the best kind of way. Arikha is shaping up to be a major writer, if she isn’t one already. full review
Elegant in style, complex and circular in construction, the story of Flora Dobbs comes to us via her unlikely friendship with a London teenager. Two worlds, two eras: an evocative and subtle novel.
Told in the same carefully-wrought, limpid prose that distinguished Arikha’s memoir of her teenage years, Major/Minor, itself a marvellous book. The author, who is the daughter of renowned Franco-Israeli painter Avigdor Arikha, and also Samuel Beckett’s goddaughter, has written a beautiful, haunting novel that goes to the heart of questions of identity and belonging. full review
The interlinked narratives, voices in counterpoint, harmonise and diverge as Hannah reflects on her own family tragedy and debunks, through her investigation, some of Flora’s articles of faith. Richly drawn characters, gorgeous language and the way it folds history delicately within the story of an individual life. full review
Where to Find Me, the fifth book by Alba Arikha, is the fascinating story of the lives of two women who are destined to become far more important to each other than they could ever have imagined, as well as of the intersecting lives of those closest to them. full review
How I came to write 'Where to find me' full review
Alba Arikha's book considers the dilemma of safety over courage, the dangers of viewing ‘facts’ through a fissure of the past, of the creeping poison of good people unwilling to act out of denial or fear, and of inevitability.
The story is captivating. She layers chance encounters upon long-grasped secrets and lies; spins mystery and myth out of her characters’ clashes with some of the most traumatic history of the 20th century, and explores the legacy of betrayal and tragedy.
Aching and luminous
In a book of many secrets and clandestine activities, the final clue lies in the title.
There are traces of poetry and painting - including a meticulous attention to colour in passages describing Paris, Jerusalem and London. full review
One hopes, one hunts, for a book that resembles nothing one has read before. Alba Arikha’s Soon is not only a true original, it’s beautiful, moving, and, yes, profound. Which makes it a rare creature indeed.
Soon has the freshness of an eye-witness report and yet travels in many directions – in time and space, by train and by memory, by image and by imagination. A beautiful achievement.
Lucid, tender and hypnotic, Alba Arikha's "Soon" has echoes of Anne Michaels, and also of a more ancient, oral tradition, but the voice is, in the end, all her own, as she patrols the borders between experience and imagination. This is a beautiful book, all the more rich for being spare, a book to pick up again and again, as one might pick up a smooth, polished stone, for its satisfactions and its mysteries.
2013 must-reads: no year would be complete without poetry. Alba Arikha’s Soon (CB Editions, £6.99) has echoes of Anne Michaels and also of a more ancient oral tradition.
Multum in parvo: so musical; such darting observation and tender understanding; such rich seams of memory and imagination. Above all, such awareness of our need to connect, such sheer openness to the joy and pain of being fully alive.
Remembering Beckett, 1970 full review
The most successful aspect of this piece was the way in which it entwined musical and textual narrative so seamlessly. At times Tom Smail's score adopted a word-painting technique; at others it simply provided an atmospheric, reflective mood for this poetic "journey of discovery" full review
This is a fiercely honest and compelling account of what it is to grow up in an artistic household, and of the joys and miseries involved in the forging of an independent spirit.
An unusually affecting book about the rage and rebellion of a stormy adolescence. Written in terse, pointillistic sentences - as if each sentence were a dab of paint - the accumulation of these tiny strokes creates a rich, fully realised portrait of a young woman's inner life. I read it straight through in a single sitting - unable to stop.
This is a truly remarkable book. It crosses generations and places, always attentive to the way in which stories are passed on. It is extraordinary and heartbreaking.
Teen angst, the Holocaust and being Beckett’s goddaughter intertwine in this revelatory family memoir full review
An excellent memoir in all sorts of ways full review
In Major/Minor, Alba tells the story of her adolescence, from 11 to 17, in a series of brief paragraphs, some single sentence, all in the moment, without later retrospect, mostly in the present tense. It's a history of rebellion ... full review
Best Books of 2012 full review
Major/Minor is very, very good. In less gifted hands, it could easily have become the kind of mawkishly confessional writing that makes one squirm. Alba Arikha got it just right: poetic and honest. Difficult to pull off.
Alba Arikha evokes her peripatetic and rebellious girlhood with a tactile sensitivity and poetic flair. Stretching from France to Israel to America and into the world of art and imagination, her childhood, as daughter to a well-known artist father and poet mother, is also freighted by history. Samuel Beckett and Henri Cartier Bresson are family regulars. So, too, are the war-time ghosts in Nazi or Communist garb that trail her father's views and moods. Memoir here becomes sister to the best rite- of-passage fiction.
The ability to let prose ease into poetry, as Arikha does here, is rare. full review
Alba Arikha has written a wonderfully atmospheric book. The story is a thrilling one -think Schindler's List but with extra twists and turns. On the one hand we are in Paris of the early eighties - riverside cafés, The Clash and first kisses. On the other, we are in Eastern Europe in 1944, a place of trauma of the sort that takes generations to heal. full review
Anyone who's ever had a tantrum will recognise the helpless rage that comes with being 13, and her family's wartime experiences give Arikha's sparse prose a haunting melancholy. full review
I read the extraordinary book Major/Minor yesterday afternoon in one great greedy gulp. I think it’s a masterpiece and the best thing about disturbed adolescence since The Catcher in the Rye: spare, poetic, moving.
Major/Minor is a giant of a memoir. Written with extraordinary grace, and weaving her words seamlessly through cities, languages and time, Alba Arikha translates the joys and sufferings that are art and love, the frailty of family life and the painful conditions of memory and belonging.
A courageous, poetic and beautiful book. Alba Arikha manages to grow and triumph, with the reader urging her on every step of the way.
A very moving memoir about a long-legged, frizzy-haired, acne-prone teenager coming of age in Paris and Jerusalem, Alba Arikha deftly blends the story of her lipstick and miniskirt obsessed earlier self with the dramatic and deeply inspiring narrative of her family's history.
The title, with its musical connotations, is felt through the prose, which changes key, sometimes aggressively major, sometimes sadly minor as the author struggles to come to terms with her family’s past and her own present. full review
...Its sparse, wilfully elliptical style gradually coalescing into an intimate, candid – and at times very raw – portrait of the relationship between a father and a daughter. full review
The brevity of Alba Arikha's memoir belies its depth and breadth. It is a moving story of a young woman's coming of age and her father's struggle to overcome his horrific early experiences. Like Beckett, Alba makes every word count. full review
Arikha has a deadpan turn of phrase that captures the intensity of her youth. Her book includes lots of observations that are seemingly unconnected but piercingly perceptive. full review
“Major/Minor” distinguishes itself by way of two factors: its emotional literacy, and the lyrical fluency of Alba Arikha’s writing. Her story is not camouflaged by sentimentality. Still, the awareness that what she writes is her story and hers alone is never lost full review
In 'Major/Minor', the terseness of Alba Arikha's lines sounds like debate or gunfire. It’s not metaphoric, it’s live. full review
Alba, l'adolescente sfrontata e ribelle che riesce a rompere la cappa del non detto, e con tono lieve, a volte perfino ironico, qui ci narra come è andata, come mezze parole, brandelli di frasi, spezzoni di discorsi, simili a tessere di un mosaico, un po' alla volta si sono ricomposti ricostruendo l'intero tragico passato familiare. full review
'Te lo dirò un' altra volta' vive di discrezione e di ritegno, e non spezza affatto il cuore di chi legge...Ogni frase scorre come una pennellata minima che coglie un lembo di luce, rendendo vibrante un' impressione o una visione. full review
Te lo dirò un'altra volta diventa una chiave di lettura. La cifra di Alba è un irresistibile understatement. full review
Lo stile - elogiato da Paul Auster e Fatima Bhutto - è sincopato, serrato, procede per frasi brevi e lancinanti, quasi risentisse del tratto rapido e fuggevole delle opere del padre, o della musica. full review
Nell’ambito della ricostruzione della memoria della Shoah — genere letterario molto ricco — sta nascendo un nuovo tipo di memorialistica, quella dei figli dei sopravvissuti. Ne costituisce un esempio particolarmente riuscito il libro di Alba Arikha, Te lo dirò un’altra volta (Bollati Boringhieri, 2013) full review
Un memoir, un pezzo di storia e un ritratto della Parigi anni '80 full review
Te lo dirò un’altra volta è scritto in uno stile sincopato, e il racconto si smoda, nei vari capitoli, al tempo presente. Con veloci pennellate, l’autrice evoca immagini, luoghi, emozioni. Si legge velocemente, facendosi catturare dai segreti di famiglia e dai tormenti dell’animo di una ragazzina alla ricerca di se stessa. full review
Sono tante le memorie dei reduci dai campi di sterminio nazisti, ma poche quelle dei discendenti dei protagonisti: il silenzio attonito di chi ha vissuto l’orrore rischia di cancellarne la testimonianza più intima e drammatica. full review
Con stile asciuto, la Arikha racconta la sua adolescenza: la scuola, gli amori, il rapporto col padre e la dolorosa storia di famiglia che tentera di riscostruire. full review
Arikha: "I luoghi dove scrivo" - La giovane scrittrice residente nella Fondazione Santa Maddalena è nipote di Samuel Beckett: ha pubblicato per Bollati Boringhieri "Te lo dirò un'altra volta" ricevendo il sostegno di Paul Auster
Beginning with something that I missed last year, but am now immersed in, I'd like to direct the attention of the equally unobservant to Alba Arikha's memoir,Major/Minor, published by Quartet. The book has received strong reviews in the press, and explores the impact of famous and talented adults, and tragic historical events, on Arikha's teenage self.
I admire this graduation through these early teenage years, which relies on a lot of memory and organisation and tremendous selection in what to use, which never once fails. Most of all, beyond technical questions, the juxtaposition of female adolescence/self-consciousness/almost ruthless clear-sightedness about the war is absolutely refreshing because we get these extraordinary and painful bits of family history almost in spite of Arikha's younger self, and they give perspective on the inner lives of all the characters as they were living at the time in Paris, so that the holocaust is both everything and not everything. Major/Minor is a flawless work and it has been an inspiration.
What a large-hearted, clear-minded book. In this era of vulgar self-revelations, it wonderfully describes the inner life of a girl, and at the same time with extraordinary detachment—portrays a family and a family history, wracked between countries and across wars. I think the greatest achievement is the tone: neither nostalgic nor self-pitying in the depictions of youthful angst, and level and sober in the narration of the horrors of the family's suffering in the camps. A remarkable memoir.
Branca shows her versatility in this fine collection of stories. As hinted in the title, the recurring theme of the book is emotional precariousness. A six year old child overhears people gossiping that her mother has a lover. A bride experiences the first flickerings of doubt. Branca shows a keen understanding of those moments on which whole lives pivot.
Branca is brutally honest in her exposure of the myth that love and sex can be managed rationally.
Each of the short stories in this compilation has a unique style. You don’t need to read it all at once, but you’ll probably want to.
The pace is steady and the characters well-observed.
A gripping yarn.
One of the best 10 mystery novels of 1998.
Avec sa formation d’écrivain et de pianiste, Alba Arikha écrit et interprète des chansons qui pourraient tout aussi bien être des poèmes, réflexions sur la vie, la mort, l’amour, les moments insolites et le hasard des rencontres