Howard Jacobson wins Man Booker prize for 'The Finkler Question'

By Jennifer Lipman, October 12, 2010
Howard Jacobson, winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize

Howard Jacobson, winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize

Howard Jacobson has won the Man Booker prize for the first time.

His novel The Finkler Question was chosen by judges above the five other books nominated, including the favourite, C by Tom McCarthy.

Mr Jacobson has been nominated twice before for the prestigious literary award, which comes with a £50,000 prize as well as the likelihood of increased book sales. This year was the first he made the shortlist.

The book is Mr Jacobson’s 15th and tells the story of three friends, two who are Jewish and one who is not, as they look back on their life experiences.

The former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, announced that Mr Jacobson had won at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London.

Sir Andrew said: "The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle.

"It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize."

On accepting the award, Mr Jacobson said: "One cannot underestimate...the importance of this prize."

He also said that he had always wanted to win and that like the other writers on the shortlist, he had not read any of the other books nominated.

He said that after he was placed on the longlist he thought he had a chance, but that the feeling “wore off” and he came to the event “perfectly calm.”

Mr Jacobson said his ambition had been to write the funniest book ever. He said that “all novels are essentially comic.”

He also joked that he would use the prize money to buy his wife a handbag.

In a Strange Room, by South African Jewish novelist Damon Galgut, was also on the shortlist.

Past Jewish winners include writers Bernice Rubens and Nadine Gordimer, as well as Thomas Keneally, who is not Jewish, for his seminal Holocaust book, Schindler’s Ark.

The book told the true story of a businessman who saved thousands of Polish Jews during the Holocaust.

Read a review of ‘The Finkler Question’ here

Read the JC’s interview with Howard Jacobson here

Last updated: 11:12am, October 13 2010