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.
Jacobson is a great storyteller: phrases, anecdotes and atmosphere roll off the page with the ease and sublime, scary grace of drunken eels...he is unsurpassable
This mature novel has the sustained exuberance and passion of his youthful writing...an achingly funny book...an amazing acheivement... There are few novelists today who can imbue the trifles of life with such poetry
Marvellous. Jacobson has not just written the first great novel about ping-pong. He has written one of the greatest sporting novels ever...a towering work of authority
Jacobson's humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade...comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh
Trying to crack that opening line? Got a first novel lingering in a drawer? This year, on penguin.co.uk and the Penguin Podcast, we've chatted to lots of authors about their craft. Here's some highlights to give you a helping hand.
'I wrote Pussy thinking only of how vexed I would be if I didn't write it'. Man Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson on the 'rush of passion' that drove him to pen his Trump-inspired novella.