A re-envisaging of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, from the Man Booker Prize-winner and our great chronicler of Jewish life.
‘Who is this guy, Dad? What is he doing here?’
With an absent wife and a daughter going off the rails, wealthy art collector and philanthropist Simon Strulovitch is in need of someone to talk to. So when he meets Shylock at a cemetery in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, he invites him back to his house. It’s the beginning of a remarkable friendship ...
‘Jacobson is quite simply a master of comic precision. He writes like a dream’ Evening Standard
'The funniest British novelist since Kingsley Amis or Tom Sharpe' Mail on Sunday
The brilliant new novel from the Booker prize-winning author
Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going.
They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?
Hanging over their lives is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.
Set in the future – a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited – J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.
Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize
Shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize
Longlisted for the JQ Wingate Literary Prize
No man has ever loved a woman and not imagined her in the arms of someone else.
Felix Quinn calls himself a happy man. He owns one of London's oldest antiquarian bookshops. He is married to and adores the beautiful Marisa. But a childhood experience has taught him that loss is intrinsic to love, and Felix realises that he can only be truly happy if his wife is sleeping with another man. Enter Marius into Marisa's affections. And now Felix must ask himself, is he really happy?
By the winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HOWARD JACOBSON
Women in Love begins one blossoming spring day in England and ends with a terrible catastrophe in the snow of the Alps. Ursula and Gudrun are very different sisters who become entangled with two friends, Rupert and Gerald, who live in their hometown. The bonds between the couples quickly become intense and passionate but whether this passion is creative or destructive is unclear.In this astonishing novel, widely considered to be D.H. Lawrence's best work, he explores what it means to be human in an age of conflict and confusion.
Life should have been sunny for Max Glickman, growing up in Crumpsall Park in peacetime, with his mother's glamorous card evenings to look forward to, and photographs of his father's favourite boxers on the walls. But other voices whisper seductively to him of Buchenwald, extermination, and the impossibility of forgetting.
Fixated on the crimes which have been committed against his people, but unable to live among them, Max moves away, marries out, and draws cartoon histories of Jewish suffering in which no one, least of all the Jews, is much interested. But it's a life. Or it seems a life until Max's long-disregarded childhood friend, Manny Washinsky, is released from prison. Little by little, as he picks up his old connection with Manny, trying to understand the circumstances in which he made a Buchenwald of his own home, Max is drawn into Manny's family history - above all his brother's tragic love affair with a girl who is half German. But more than that, he is drawn back into the Holocaust obsessions from which he realises there can be, and should be, no release.
There is wild, angry, even uproarious laughter in this novel, but it is laughter on the edge. It is the comedy of cataclysm.
One day, out of the blue, Henry Nagel inherits a sumptuous apartment in St John's Wood. Divine intervention? Or his late father's love nest? Henry doesn't know, but he is glad to escape the North. After nearly sixty years of angry disappointment, Henry's life is about to change.
Not that the ghosts of Henry's past are prepared to disappear without a struggle - his old school-friend and rival Osmond 'Hovis' Belkin, currently enjoying success in Hollywood; his tragic great aunt Marghanita for whom Henry once entertained a dangerous passion; and his father Izzi, upholsterer turned illusionist, fire-eater and origamist, whose shade Henry interrogates relentlessly. But the present clamours as loudly as the past. His dyspeptic neighbour Lachlan wants his sympathy; Lachlan's sloppy red setter, Angus, wants a walk; and Moira, the waitress with the crooked smile and custard hair, seems to want him. Kicking and screaming every inch of the way, Henry realises he might finally be falling in love.
Sefton Goldberg: mid-thirties, English teacher at Wrottesley Poly in the West Midlands; small, sweaty, lustful, defiantly unappreciative of beer, nature and organised games; gnawingly aware of being an urban Jew islanded in a sea of country-loving Anglo-Saxons. Obsessed by failure - morbidly, in his own case, gloatingly, in that of his contemporaries - so much so that he plans to write a bestseller on the subject.
In the meantime he is uncomfortably aware of advancing years and atrophying achievement, and no amount of lofty rationalisation can disguise the triumph of friends and colleagues, not only from Cambridge days but even within the despised walls of the Poly itself, or sweeten the bitter pill of another's success...
From the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2010.
From the beginning Oliver Walzer is a natural - at ping-pong. Even with his improvised bat (the Collins Classic edition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) he can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not so adept, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, fellow member of the Akiva Social Club Table Tennis Team and stalwart of the Kardomah coffee bar, his game improves.
Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
Barney Fugleman has two major preoccupations in life: sex and literature. He is obsessed by the life and work of a man hailed by many as a genius of the nineteenth century - and by Barney as a 'prurient little Victorian ratbag'.
This curious propulsion drives him out of Finchley, and out of the life he shares with Sharon and her 'rampant marvellings', to Cornwall. There he offends serious ramblers with his slip-on snakeskin shoes, fur coat and antagonism to all things green and growing as he stomps the wild Atlantic cliffs on long, morbid walks, tampering with the truth, tangling with the imperious Camilla - and telling a riotous tale.
By the winner of the Man Booker Prize and author of The Finkler Question.
Frank Ritz is a television critic. His partner, Melissa Paul, is the author of pornographic novels for liberated women. He watches crap all day; she writes crap all day. It's a life. Or it was a life. But now they're fighting, locked in oral combat. He won't shut up and she is putting her finger down her throat again. So there's only one thing for it - Frank has to go.
But go where? And do what? Frank Ritz has been on heat more or less continuously since he could speak his own name. Let him out of the house and his first instinct is to go looking for sex. Deviant sex, treacherous sex, even straight sex, so long as it's immoderate - he's never been choosy. But what happens when sex is all you know but no longer what you want?
Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
Karl Leon Forelock is a product of the northern English town of Partington (the wettest spot in Europe) and a graduate with a double starred first in the Moral Decencies from Malapert college, Cambridge. Sent to Sydney on a CIA bursary on a mission to teach the Australians how to live, Leon quickly discovers that there are some natives who believe that they have an education to pass on in return. But it is at the hands of the women in Australia that Leon receives his most painful, and on occasions his most pleasurable, lessons.
Meanwhile, in a foul, dilapidated bush privy, way up in the Bogong high plains, the Redback sucks her teeth and waits her turn...
Howard Jacobson has written fourteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J. Howard Jacobson’s first book, Shakespeare’s Magnanimity, written with the scholar Wilbur Sanders, was a study of four Shakespearean heroes. Many books later he has returned to Shakespeare with a contemporary interpretation of The Merchant of Venice – 'the most troubling of Shakespeare's plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.'