Just last weekend, the British novelist Howard Jacobson was lamenting that he wasn’t being taken seriously. “There is a fear of comedy in the novel today,” he wrote the Guardian Saturday Review. “When did you last see the word ‘funny’ on the jacket of a serious novel?”
It’s the story of three old school friends who grapple with love, loss, and what it means to be Jewish in Britain — themes that are staples of Jacobson’s work. The Guardian calls the novel “laugh-out-loud exploration of Jewishness” and notes that it’s the first “unashamedly comic novel” to win in the 42-year history of the prize.
We’ve been lucky to have Jacobson on the show twice — he’s a fantastic talker, thoughtful and seriously funny too. In 2007, he read from Kalooki Nights (which was previously longlisted for the Booker Prize). And for our American Icons episode all about Superman, we asked Jacobson for his take on the caped crusader’s Jewish origins. Among his observations: “Krypton is like an ideal Jewish suburb. All the men are highly scientific and cerebral. An all the women are good-looking and motherly, but care mainly about whether their boys do well at school.”
You can listen to the full program here:
– Jenny Lawton