Great expectations but Jacobson doubts he will win the Man Booker this year


Sport, Dickens and the dangers of complacency were some of the issues tackled by Howard Jacobson at an evening of literary talk.

The author said he believed Jews only pretended to like football or rugby, as a way of being accepted by non-Jews. Secretly they preferred more highbrow pursuits, such as classical music.

And he disclosed that, in his view, "Great Expectations is the best novel ever".

These revelations came at the JC Editor's Choice evening, in association with the London Jewish Cultural Centre, with Mr Jacobson in conversation with the newspaper's literary editor, Gerald Jacobs, in front of a sold out audience.

The writer described his latest book, J, as very different from previous works such as Kalooki Nights and The Finkler Question, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2010.

It was darker and had taken much longer to write than the two years he usually spends on a book. J depicts a dystopian future in an unnamed land, that could be Britain, after an unspecified but major catastrope.

Mr Jacobson told the audience that they should not feel paranoid about such a disaster befalling Jews in the UK, but warned them against complacency.

J has been nominated for this year's Man Booker Prize, to be announced on October 14. Could he emulate a previous two-time winner and become the "Jewish Hilary Mantel", Mr Jacobs speculated - adding: "My money's on you".

"That's killed it off," laughed Mr Jacobson.

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