Being Howard Jacobson

An Introduction

in European Judaism
Bryan Cheyette University of Reading, UK

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Howard Jacobson (1942–) has been the leading Jewish writer in Britain for nearly four decades. He remains at the height of his powers with the recent publication of his memoir, Mother's Boy: A Writer's Beginnings (2022) which is referred to throughout this introduction. I will return to Jacobson's first novel, Coming from Behind (1983), to show how it relates to his ‘golden’ period which is the focus of the articles in this Special Issue. Novels produced during this period include: The Mighty Walzer (1999), Kalooki Nights (2006), The Finkler Question (2010), J: A Novel (2014) and Shylock Is My Name (2016). Jacobson's growing confidence – moving between the individual and the collective, between comedy and tragedy, and between realism and experimentalism – will be at the heart of the introduction.

Contributor Notes

Bryan Cheyette is Chair in Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Reading and a Fellow of the English Association. He has published eleven books, most recently The Ghetto: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2020). A Series Editor for Bloomsbury (New Horizons in Contemporary Writing), he has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth College, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds fellowships at the universities of Leeds, Southampton and Birkbeck College, London. He has been reviewing Howard Jacobson's novels and writing on his fiction and non-fiction since 1984.

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