Ali Smith at The Guardian:
Recently I found myself rereading Muriel Spark’s novel The Mandelbaum Gate for the first time in 30 years. I’ve been rereading a lot of Spark over this last year and a half, because the times we’re in right now, and the way the information speedfests are forming our everyday history and asking such challenging questions about truth and lies and fiction, mean that I’ve found I’ve had the need of Spark like never before – her intelligence, her longsightedness, her wit, her liberating merriment, her formidable blitheness.
Can blitheness be formidable? I think Spark’s is. She’s this formidable, she’s thisgenerous, I thought, holding The Mandelbaum Gate open in my hands on a train early last November – rereading it at a time when, on the fronts of all the free Evening Standards round me up and down the train, our then British international development secretary happened to have been off having one-sided “secret” talks with the Israeli government. The moral complications of the contemporary were pretty fresh, to my mind anyway, on pages 28 and 29 of The Mandelbaum Gate, set in 1961 in the Jerusalem of the Adolf Eichmann trial.