In The Very Model of a Man, Jacobson takes on the Hebrew scriptures and rewrites religious history with his customary brand of ink-black humour. Adam and Eve have just been expelled from the Garden of Eden by a furious God, and their first-born son Cain reflects bitterly on the family’s miserable existence in a bleak, half-formed world in which one angry foot-stamp can send new, unnamed species scurrying from the wet clay. To make matters worse, his new brother Abel is claiming all his mother’s attention, and a jealous and petulant Old Testament deity will stop at nothing to create upheaval within the first family.
Shifting between Cain’s post-Eden days, when righteous fire is just as likely to descend from the heavens as rapacious angels, to his vagrant-like existence in the city of Babel following Abel’s murder, The Very Model of a Man swipes ruthlessly through biblical conventions. Questioning thousands of years of doctrine, the word of God and the very nature of Jewishness, it is above all a thrilling and touching tale from one of our greatest living storytellers.
Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable characters: Shylock.
Winter, a cemetery, Shylock. In this provocative and profound interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge. While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice's “betrayal” of her family and heritage — as she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society, and into the arms of a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field — Shylock alternates grief for his beloved wife with rage against his own daughter's rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Culminating in a shocking twist on Shylock’s demand for the infamous pound of flesh, Jacobson’s insightful retelling examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity while maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with its antecedent — a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.”
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. Now they're fighting, locked in oral combat. He won't shut up, and she's putting her finger down her throat again. So there's only one thing to do: Frank has to go.
But go where? And do what? Frank Ritz has been in 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 conventional sex, so long as it's immoderate-he's never been choosy. But what happens when sex is all you know and yet no longer what you want?
In a stunning follow-up to his much-heralded masterpiece, "Kalooki Nights," acclaimed author Howard Jacobson has turned his mordant and uncanny sights on Felix Quinn, a rare-book dealer living in London, whose wife Marisa is unfaithful to him. All husbands, Felix maintains, secretly want their wives to be unfaithful to them. Felix hasn't always thought this way. From the moment of his first boyhood rejection, surviving the shattering effects of love and jealousy had been the study of his life. But while he is honeymooning with Marisa in Florida an event occurs that changes everything. In a moment, he goes from dreading the thought of someone else's hands on the woman he loves to thinking about nothing else. Enter Marius into Marisa's affections. And now Felix must wonder if he really is a happy man.
"The Act of Love" is a haunting novel of love and jealousy, with stylish prose that crackles and razor-sharp dialogue, praised by the London Times as "darkly transgressive, as savage in its brilliance, as anything Jacobson has written." It is a startlingly perceptive, subtle portrait of a marriage and an excruciatingly honest, provocative exploration of sexual obsession.
Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic history titled "Five Thousand Years of Bitterness," recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Growing up, Max is surrounded by Jews, each with an entirely different and outspoken view on what it means to be Jewish. His mother, incessantly preoccupied with a card game called Kalooki, only begrudgingly puts the deck away on the High Holy Days. Max's father, a failed boxer prone to spontaneous nosebleeds, is a self-proclaimed atheist and communist, unable to accept the God who has betrayed him so unequivocally in recent years.But it is through his friend and neighbor Manny Washinsky that Max begins to understand the indelible effects of the Holocaust and to explore the intrinsic and paradoxical questions of a postwar Jewish identity. Manny, obsessed with the Holocaust and haunted by the allure of its legacy, commits a crime of nightmare proportion against his family and his faith. Years later, after his friend's release from prison, Max is inexorably drawn to uncover the motive behind the catastrophic act — the discovery of which leads to a startling revelation and a profound truth about religion and faith that exists where the sacred meets the profane.
Spanning the decades between World War II and the present day, acclaimed author Howard Jacobson seamlessly weaves together a breath-takingly complex narrative of love, tragedy, redemption, and above all, remarkable humor. Deeply empathetic and audaciously funny, "Kalooki Nights" is a luminous story torn violently between the hope of restoring and rebuilding Jewish life, and the painful burden of memory and loss.
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.
Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn't know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn't then, and isn't now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn't ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. 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 the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe — a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.
Marvin Kreitman, the luggage baron of South London, lives for sex. Or at least he lives for women. At present he loves four women-his mother, his wife Hazel, and his two daughters-and is in love with five more. Charlie Merriweather, on the other hand, nice Charlie, loves just the one woman, also called Charlie, the wife with whom he has been writing children's books and having nice sex for twenty years. Once a week the two friends meet for lunch, contriving never quite to have the conversation they would like to have-about fidelity and womanizing, and which makes you happier. Until today. It is Charlie who takes the dangerous step of asking for a piece of Marvin's disordered life, but what follows embroils them all, the wives no less than the husbands. And none of them will ever be the same again.
From the beginning Oliver Walzer is a natural-at ping-pong. Even with his improvised bat (the Collins Classic edition of he can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not a natural, being shy and frightened of women, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, fellow member of the Akiva Social Club Table Tennis team, his game improves. And while the Akiva boys teach him everything he needs to know about ping-pong, his father, Joel Walzer, teaches him everything there is to know about "swag." Unabashedly autobiographical, this is an hilarious and heartbreaking story of one man's coming of age in 1950's Manchester.
Man Booker Prize — Winning Author of THE FINKLER QUESTION.
Swathed in his kimono, drinking tea from his samovar, Henry Nagle is temperamentally opposed to life in the 21st century. Preferring not to contemplate the great intellectual and worldly success of his best boyhood friend, he argues constantly with his father, an upholsterer turned fire-eater — and now dead for many years. When he goes out at all, Henry goes after other men’s wives.
But when he mysteriously inherits a sumptuous apartment, Henry’s life changes, bringing on a slick descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson, an excitable red setter, and a wise-cracking waitress with a taste for danger. All of them demand his attention, even his love, a word which barely exists in Henry’s magisterial vocabulary, never mind his heart.
From one of England’s most highly regarded writers, is a ravishing novel, at once wise, tender and mordantly funny.