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Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Howard Jacobson (photo by Jenny Jacobson)

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?”

Well, perhaps we’ll see it more often.  It’s just been announced that Jacobson is the winner of this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Finkler Question.

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

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Move over American Idol. Presenting: Studio 360’s American Icons.

Sure, Abraham Lincoln isn’t most people’s idea of a triple threat (though his voice was said to be a reedy tenor). But his memorial in Washington, DC, has staying power. History was made there, and continues to be made there. It was the backdrop for opera singer Marian Anderson’s barrier-defying concert in 1939 and the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Last week we explored how the monument became America’s soapbox and guidepost – with the help of Sarah Vowell, David Strathairn, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The Lincoln Memorial is just one episode from Studio 360’s American Icons series. American Icons shows take a work of art – something that’s changed the cultural conversation – and unpack it, often with surprising results. Among these special episodes, Lincoln shares top billing with Superman, Barbie, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and “The Wizard of Oz.”

One of the defining aspects of an American Icon is that it can both reflect and absorb our interpretations. We all have our own memories and experiences of these works of art. Now we’re at work on our next series, and we’d love to know what you think of the new Icons we’ve chosen  In the fall of 2010 we’ll broadcast episodes exploring The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “I Love Lucy,” Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Do you have particular memories about these works?

Post them below…we’re eager to hear…

– Michael Guerriero

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