Tali Lavi

Tali Lavi

Tali Lavi is a critic, writer, and public interviewer whose work has appeared in publications including Australian Book Review, The Jewish Quarterly, The Saturday Paper and Sydney Review of Books. ‘Counting’, an essay, was published in Marina Benjamin’s Garden Among Fires: A Lockdown Anthology. She is part of the programming team for Melbourne Jewish Book Week.

Tali Lavi reviews 'More Than I Love My Life' by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
Tali Lavi reviews 'More Than I Love My Life' by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen
Studying The Crucible in English class engendered fierce competition for the part of John Procter, drawn as we schoolgirls were to his irradiating idealism and dogged pursuit of truth, and besotted by his nobility. The play’s force remains even as the passage of time has worked upon subsequent rereadings. When resisting false allegations of witchcraft, Proctor’s plea is harrowing: ‘Because I ... (read more)

The gentle art of 'Shtisel'

ABR Arts 04 May 2021
The gentle art of 'Shtisel'
It opens with a dream. A dream that is, as dreams often are, awash in surrealism, disorientation, longing, desire. Dreams, both waking and sleeping, are integral to Shtisel’s composition, an Israeli television saga that speaks of the lives of the Shtisels, a family living in the midst of a Haredi (literally ‘those who tremble’, otherwise known as Ultra-Orthodox) community. The series is a te ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'The Happiest Man on Earth' by Eddie Jaku

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
Tali Lavi reviews 'The Happiest Man on Earth' by Eddie Jaku
Eddie Jaku looks out benevolently from his memoir’s cover, signs of living etched across his face. The dapper centenarian displays another mark, one distinctly at odds with his beatific expression and the title’s claim: the tattoo on his forearm from Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Less discernible is the badge affixed to his lapel bearing the Hebrew word zachor; ‘remember’. The Happiest Man on Ear ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Intimations: Six essays' by Zadie Smith

September 2020, no. 424 21 August 2020
Tali Lavi reviews 'Intimations: Six essays' by Zadie Smith
On the July afternoon when I first read Intimations, novelist and prolific essayist Zadie Smith’s new book of essays, Melbourne registered its highest number of Covid-19 cases – 484 positives, with two deaths. Since then the daily tolls have risen alarmingly. Midway through the city’s second week of Lockdown 2.0, there is a nebulous feeling of dispiritedness. We mark time as belonging to a p ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Genius and Anxiety: How Jews changed the world, 1847–1947' by Norman Lebrecht

August 2020, no. 423 27 July 2020
Tali Lavi reviews 'Genius and Anxiety: How Jews changed the world, 1847–1947' by Norman Lebrecht
My first encounter with Daniel Deronda (1876) was during a university undergraduate course in Victorian literature. The novel was almost shocking for its romanticised Jewish eponymous hero and its deep evocation of Judaism and modern Zionism’s stirrings. This was a singular experience when it came to reading Jewish characters by writers who were not themselves Jewish. Fictional Jews of this peri ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Daddy Cool: Finding my father, the singer who swapped Hollywood fame for home in Australia' by Darleen Bungey

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
Tali Lavi reviews 'Daddy Cool: Finding my father, the singer who swapped Hollywood fame for home in Australia' by Darleen Bungey
‘“I must remember accurately,” I told myself, “remember everything accurately so that when he is gone I can re-create the father who created me.”’ This is Philip Roth exhorting himself while witnessing his declining father bathe in Patrimony: A true story (1991), a memoir that opens when Herman Roth is diagnosed with a brain tumour. The book, tender but also brutal, slips between ... (read more)

Cock, Cock … Who’s There? (Samira Elagoz/Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 04 March 2020
Cock, Cock … Who’s There? (Samira Elagoz/Adelaide Festival)
In 2000, Mary Beard, the English scholar and classicist, published an autobiographical essay entitled ‘On Rape’ in the London Review of Books. It blazes, not in intensity of tone, but as writing that refuses to tame itself to one palatable or containable narrative. The essay allows for a space wherein questions are asked and there aren’t always answers, at least not ones that make us complac ... (read more)

Anne Frank: Parallel Stories

ABR Arts 11 October 2019
Anne Frank: Parallel Stories
Earlier this year, not being able to find my childhood copy of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl for my eldest daughter, I bought another one. It seemed bigger than I had remembered, but the cover had the same recognisable photo of the demurely smiling Anne gazing somewhere into the distance – a wisp of a girl with distinctive dark features that would have made it highly unlikely for her ... (read more)

My Dearworthy Darling (Malthouse Theatre and THE RABBLE)

ABR Arts 09 August 2019
My Dearworthy Darling (Malthouse Theatre and THE RABBLE)
In the beginning there is the sound of deep breathing and heartbeat. Woman, the electric Jennifer Vuletic, lies writhing on a rock, splayed as if for sacrifice. Is she in a state of anguish or ecstasy? My Dearworthy Darling ushers us into a space fraught with uncertainty, the kind where questions beget more questions. Fortunately, we are in the deft hands of THE RABBLE, a feminist theatre collecti ... (read more)

Tali Lavi reviews 'Imperfect: How our bodies shape the people we become' by Lee Kofman

March 2019, no. 409 25 February 2019
Tali Lavi reviews 'Imperfect: How our bodies shape the people we become' by Lee Kofman
A marble statue of a crouching Venus disfigured by age and circumstance appears on the cover of Lee Kofman’s Imperfect. The goddess of love and beauty is a ruin, although one capable of radiating an uncertain allure. Through a deft trick of typography, the emblazoned title can be read as either ‘Imperfect’ or ‘I’m Perfect’. Kofman announces from the outset that she has attempted ‘to ... (read more)
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