Howard Johnson: Booker Prize Winner’s Jewish Question “The Finkler Que

Booker Prize Winner’s Jewish Question

Source: NYT, 10-18-10

A funny thing happened when Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize last Tuesday. Instead of the traditional audience reaction — euphoria from the winner’s entourage, anemic clapping underpinned by envy and bitterness from everyone else — the announcement, over dinner at the Guildhall here, was greeted by loud, sustained applause. A smattering of people who were not even related to Mr. Jacobson stood and cheered.

 

Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Howard Jacobson, winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize and shown here at his home in central London, says he would prefer to be “the Jewish Jane Austen.”

“I think it’s that I’m someone who’s been around for a long time,” Mr. Jacobson, exhausted but excited, said in an interview two days after. “There was also the feeling that, ‘Thank God an old man’s won it.’ ” (He is 68).

The winning book, “The Finkler Question,” is Mr. Jacobson’s 11th novel; it was published in the United States as a paperback original by Bloomsbury on the same day that the prize was announced. It is an unusual Booker choice, both because it delves into the heart of the British Jewish experience, something that few contemporary British novels try to do, and because it is, on its surface at least, so ebulliently comic. It tells the story of three friends, two Jewish and one, Julian Treslove, who longs to be…..READ MORE

A version of this article appeared in print on October 19, 2010, on page C1 of the New York edition.
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