British Author and Broadcaster (1942- )
Born in Manchester on the 25th August 1942 Howard Jacobson was educated at the Stand Grammar School at Whitefield in Manchester and later at Downing College, Cambridge, where he read English and fell under the influence Frank Raymond Leavis.
After graduation he became an English lecturer himself, taught for three years at the University of Sydney and then back in Britain at Selwyn College, Cambridge, before spending the 1970s at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the West Midlands where his career hit the buffers. The experience did however provide the material for his first novel, Coming From Behind (1983) set in a failing polytechnic in the West Midlands. His most successful work to date has been The Mighty Walzer (1999), a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel set in 1950s Manchester featuring a teenage table tennis wizzard which won both the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction for 2000.
His work to date is generally concerned with what might be called the Jewish experience in Britain; Jacobson has himself described his most recent work Kalooki Nights (2006) as "the most Jewish novel that has ever been written by anybody, anywhere." Since he is both Jewish and writes comic novels that feature versions of himself who spend much of their time in the pursuit of women he is often compared to Philip Roth and has been called him 'The English Roth'. The Daily Telegraph has called him "our funniest living writer", other however suggest that whilst his novels contain brilliant set pieces they lack overall cohesion; according to Michael Moorcock he is "a great anecdotalist, but a lousy storyteller." His only arguably serious novel The Very Model of a Man (1992), which retells the story of Cain and Abel was his least succesful and is currently out of print.
Jacobson has been the subject of an Arena documentary entitled 'My Son the Novelist', broadcast by BBC2 in 1985, and an edition of ITV's South Bank Show, broadcast in 1999, while both Roots Schmoots: Journeys Among Jews (1993), which explores his own Jewish roots, and Seriously Funny: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime (1997), an analysis of comedy where the subject of a related television series.
He also writes a weekly column for The Independent newspaper. He was married but is now divorced and currently lives in Soho with his partner, Jenny De Yong, a television producer. He is currently working on a novel about death.
- Coming From Behind, Chatto & Windus, 1983
- Peeping Tom, Chatto & Windus, 1984
- Redback, Bantam, 1986
- The Very Model of a Man, Viking, 1992
- No More Mister Nice Guy, Cape, 1998
- The Mighty Walzer, Cape, 1999
- Who's Sorry Now, Cape, 2002
- The Making of Henry, Cape, 2004
- Kalooki Nights, Cape, 2006
with Wilbur Sanders