Monthly Archives: May 2021

30 May: Naomi Games, ‘Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means: The Life and Work of Abram Games’

Abram Games (1914-96) was one of the 20th century’s most innovative and important graphic designers; producing some of Britain’s most enduring images, which are a now a fascinating record of social history. His career spanned 60 years during which he produced hundreds of posters as well as stamps for Britain, Jersey and Israel, book jackets and emblems, including those for the Festival of Britain (1951) and BBC Television (1953). Other clients included British Airways, the Financial Times, Guinness, Shell and Transport for London. During World War II he was appointed Official War Poster Designer. It was Games’ personal philosophy of ‘maximum meaning, minimum means’ that gave his works their distinctive conceptual and visual quality.

Naomi Games grew up watching her father, Abram, work in his studio in the family home. She studied graphic design and has written and illustrated many books for children. Since the death of her father in 1996, she has organized numerous exhibitions on various aspects of his work and of his contemporaries. She lectures both in the UK and abroad, writes on design and runs the vast archive of Abram Games, which remains accessible to all. She has co-produced a film and has written six books on her father’s work.

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9 May: Naomi Gryn, ‘André Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just: Can there be Beauty in Barbarity?’

Naomi Gryn revisits The Last of the Just by André Schwarz-Bart, first published in France in 1959. Schwarz-Bart’s debut novel was a literary sensation; it won the Prix Goncourt, sold more than a million copies and was translated into 20 languages. Based on the Kabbalistic tradition that in every generation 36 righteous people save the world from destruction, The Last of the Just is a magical realist interpretation of Schwarz-Bart’s wartime experiences, and an act of mourning for the senseless slaughter of Europe’s Jews, including his own parents and brothers, deported to Auschwitz when he was 13 years old. In 2019 Naomi made a documentary for BBC Radio 4 – The Last of the Just: Finding Beauty in Barbarity – travelling to Paris to walk in the footsteps of the novel’s main character, Ernie Levy, and to meet the author’s widow, Simone, an eminent author in her own right, and their son, Jacques, a jazz saxophonist. His recent album – a tribute to his father’s memory – draws inspiration from both his parents’ past – the Voodoo faith of his mother’s African ancestors and chants from the Jewish liturgical heritage of his father’s family. The programme is still available on BBC Sounds at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000dnd7. Naomi will examine why this haunting, sometimes heart-breaking elegy for the innocence extinguished by the Holocaust is still so urgent and compelling, and why, despite the book’s enormous success, Andre Schwarz-Bart disappeared from public view.

Naomi Gryn is a writer and makes documentaries for radio and TV. Born in New York, she lives in London and has worked across the film and television industry. She has written articles, reviews and short stories for many publications as well as co-authoring and editing her father’s (Rabbi Hugo Gryn) memoirs, Chasing Shadows for Viking/Penguin (2000) and Three Minutes of Hope: Hugo Gryn on the God Slot for Continuum Books (2010). She is contributing editor to The Jewelry Icon and chairman of The Essayists, a group of writers that meet to study essays.

If you are on the Lit mailing list you will be sent joining information on the morning of the meeting. If you are not on the Lit list but would like to attend, please register here.

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Filed under 5781 / 2020-21 Programme