AN ODE TO POST-WAR JEWISH BRIXTON AND ITS UNIQUE CAST OF CHARACTERS
Both riotous and profound, this novel resurrects a vibrant era that deserves a place in our collective memory
As Benny ‘the Fixer’ Pomeranski is laid to rest on a cold November morning at the turn of the twenty-first century, a motley crew of survivors from his youth assembles around the grave, its members ‘identified by their lived-in faces – faces that indicated a singular kind of past, a chequered hinterland.’ This encounter with the past, and the discovery of his father Benny’s diaries, leads Simon Pomeranski back to his childhood and the post-war days of the Astorians, a small group of criminals and traders in ‘swag’ who ran their business from Brixton Market and exercised their own particular brand of justice.
From this wonderful assortment of characters we are introduced to ‘Spanish’ Joe, the cultured Russian émigré, Sam ‘the Stick’, with his wounded machismo and penchant for violent retribution, and the dazzling songstress Estelle, among others. Front and centre in their world, though, is Benny himself, the autodidact owner of Pomeranski Gowns, whose passionate affair with Estelle marks the beginning of a new era for the Astorians.
Praise for Jacobs’ previous work…
‘There’s a deceptive matter-of-factness about Gerald Jacobs’ writing which masks an exquisite sadness. His is the art of the refined miniaturist.’ Howard Jacobson
‘Everybody should read this book.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Works like Sacred Games make it possible for generations born after the Holocaust to come face to face with its reality.’ Jonathan Sacks, Financial Times ‘This sweeping, poignant epic is a paean to the power of memory – and love.’ Mail on Sunday
Gerald Jacobs is the literary editor of the Jewish Chronicle. His book Sacred Games was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1995, Penguin in 1996 and re-issued by Faber in 2011. He published Nine Love Letters with Quartet in 2016. He lives in London.