The Man Booker Prize

2010 - Howard Jacobson 

Born: 25 August 1942, Manchester, Lancashire

Author's quote: "So many unhappy women out there. Such a sea of female misery."

Field: Fiction & Journalism

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Howard Jacobson 

About Howard Jacobson 

Howard Jacobson (born 25 August 1942) is a Man Booker Prize-winning British author and journalist. He is best known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters.

Jacobson was born in Manchester, Lancashire, brought up in Prestwich, and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, before going on to study English at Downing College, Cambridge under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to Britain to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His later teaching posts included a period at Wolverhampton Polytechnic from 1974 to 1980.

Although Jacobson has described himself as "a Jewish Jane Austen" (in response to being described as "the English Phillip Roth"), he also states, "I'm not by any means conventionally Jewish. I don't go to shul. What I feel is that I have a Jewish mind, I have a Jewish intelligence.

Jacobson married his first wife when he was 22. He married his second wife, Rosalin Sadler, in 1965; they divorced in 1995. In 2005, Jacobson was married for the third time, to radio and TV documentary maker Jenny De Yong. He stated, "My last wife. I'm home, it's right".

In August 2014, Jacobson was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.

His time at Wolverhampton was to form the basis of his first novel, Coming from Behind, a campus comedy about a failing polytechnic that plans to merge facilities with a local football club.

He also wrote a travel book in 1987, titled In the Land of Oz, which was researched during his time as a visiting academic in Sydney.

His fiction, particularly in the six novels he has published since 1998, is characterised chiefly by a discursive and humorous style. Recurring subjects in his work include male–female relations and the Jewish experience in Britain in the mid- to late-20th century. He has been compared to prominent Jewish-American novelists such as Philip Roth, in particular for his habit of creating doppelgängers of himself in his fiction.

His 1999 novel The Mighty Walzer, about a teenage table tennis champion, won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing.

His 2002 novel Who's Sorry Now? – the central character of which is a Jewish luggage baron of South London – and his 2006 novel Kalooki Nights were long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Jacobson described Kalooki Nights as "the most Jewish novel that has ever been written by anybody, anywhere". It won the 2007 JQ Wingate Prize.

In October 2010 Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question, which was the first comic novel to win the prize since Kingsley Amis's The Old Devils in 1986. The book, published by Bloomsbury, explores what it means to be Jewish today and is also about "love, loss and male friendship”.

His novel Zoo Time won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize (2013), Jacobson's second time winning the prize (the first in 1999 for The Mighty Walzer).

In September 2014, Jacobson's novel J was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.



Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It: The Best of Howard Jacobson - Howard Jacobson

By Cassandra

One piece is titled 'If it's 'readable' don't read it' and this book, like his others, goes way beyond mere readability. However, given how much Bloomsbury must have made out of the Booker win they do a disservice to Mr Jacobson with this book. There's no contents list and there are no dates, though the columns were written over a 13 year period. Worst of all they leave out the column which is a distillation of everything that's distinctive and wonderful about his writing - just look at the Independent 18 Nov 2006.


Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It: The Best of Howard Jacobson - Howard Jacobson

By John R. Bryan

Short articles are perfect for bedside reading; and air travel. I laugh out loud. I love his kinky humour...'twas on the good ship Venus' at his father in law's funeral... and the tight way he writes. The variety is remarkable as well so I read about the clothes he buys in Soho and the food from Fortnum's.