Although he has described himself as "a Jewish Jane Austen," he also states, "I'm not by any means conventionally Jewish. I don't go to shul. What I feel is that I have a Jewish mind, I have a Jewish intelligence. I feel linked to previous Jewish minds of the past. I don't know what kind of trouble this gets somebody into, a disputatious mind. What a Jew is has been made by the experience of 5,000 years, that's what shapes the Jewish sense of humour, that's what shaped Jewish pugnacity or tenaciousness." He maintains that "comedy is a very important part of what I do."The Daily Mail newspaper reports:
Booker Prize's comic first as Howard Jacobson beats favourites with The Finkler Question
By Liz Thomas
At the age of 68 and after writing 11 novels he might have thought the Booker Prize was beyond his reach.
But last night rank outsider Howard Jacobson finally won the prestigious award and £50,000 in prize money for his comic tragedy, The Finkler Question.
It is the first time in the award’s 42-year history that a comic novel has been voted the winner...
The Finkler Question, which follows the friendship between three mature men – a former BBC producer, a philosopher and their former teacher – two of whom have been recently widowed, was hailed by the judges as ‘a profound and wise book’.
Jacobson, who has been tipped as a possible winner in the past, said: ‘I’m speechless. Fortunately I prepared one earlier.
‘It’s dated 1983, that is how long the wait’s been.’
He went on to thank the judges, his old grammar school teachers and his mother who, he said, had taught him ‘to love literature’.
Poet Sir Andrew Motion, chairman of the judging panel, said Jacobson’s writing shared qualities with William Shakespeare. He continued: ‘It would be a bit over the top to say it’s Shakespearean.
‘But he certainly knows something that Shakespeare knew – that the relationship between comedy and tragedy are intimately linked.
‘It is a book about Jewishness. But it is so much more than that. It is a book about male friendship – and how we don’t always like our friends.’
This is the first major award Jacobson has won. He was listed twice for the Booker for Who’s Sorry Now? in 2002 and Kalooki Nights in 2006 but both failed to make the final six.
He is the oldest winner since William Golding won with Rites of Passage aged 69.
Jacobson only published his first book at the age of 40 after spending much of his early life in teaching and academia.
He also confessed that he gave up writing novels for a time in frustration and was seduced into working for television, including a series about comedy called Seriously Funny and one about Jewishness called Roots Schmoots.
Jacobson has previously insisted he was not bothered by awards. He once said: ‘You just take no notice of them, really.
‘It’s always nice to be praised, and in so far as a prize is a form of praise, you’re glad when you get it.’...