Howard Jacobson calls himself a "Jewish Jane
Austen," as opposed to his critics' description as the "English
Phillip Roth." Suffice to say, he's a funny guy. He's also the winner
of the 2010 Man Booker Prize with his comic novel, The Finkler
His unexpected win would seem to put paid to the idea that comedy has
disappeared from the novel. At a Sydney Writers Festival session
called The Return of the Wry, Jacobson tells media lecturer Fiona
Giles why, more than ever, there's a big need for funny.
In it, he points out that, in the time of Ancient Greece, was the
direct opposite of tragedy in that it was focused on the basics of life,
such as sex and bodily functions. These days, he says, there should be
nowhere that comedy doesn't dare to go, including the hardest and
darkest things of life.
Jacobson confesses why he's suspicious of Shakespeare's Shylock,
unanimity, ideologues and atheists ... but also why he quite likes
Joyce's Jewish hero in Ulysses, and the aristocratic baby and talking
dog of the TV show "Family Guy."
Fiona Giles is a senior lecturer in media and communications at the University of Sydney. Her publications include journalism, edited collections and academic work on gender and the body, particularly female sexuality. Her book, Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts, was published in 2003.
Howard Jacobson is a British author and journalist. He is best known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters. His 1999 novel The Mighty Walzer, about a teenage table tennis champion, won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing. In October 2010 Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question.
Howard Jacobson, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Finkler Question, argues that the rebellious nature of comedy is an integral part of any good novel. "It's a rebellion against everything; against the idea of God, against the idea of authority, against the idea of the hero himself," says Jacobson.