Victory at last for Howard Jacobson, self-proclaimed as ‘a Jewish Jane Austen’ with The Finkler Question, the first comic novel to win since Kingsley Amis’s The Old Devils in 1986.

Even a comic novel needs more than gags and Jacobson’s book is also a moving examination of friendship, love, loss and, of course, Jewishness. The author, then 68, had almost despaired of winning the prize, stating that he was adept at writing unused acceptance speeches (‘I note that my language in these speeches grows less gracious with the years’).

But when the time came he rose to the moment, saying he’d spend the prize money on a handbag for his wife: ‘Have you seen the price of handbags?’ 

Howard Jacobson
Published by
A scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity, from the brilliant Howard Jacobson.

The Shortlist

The Finkler Question
Prize winner
In a Strange Room
The Long Song

The Longlist

The 2010 judges