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J: A Novel

by Howard Jacobson

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.

J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World, thought-provoking and life-changing. It is like no other novel that Howard Jacobson has written.

Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

“To say is unlike any other novel Jacobson has written would be misleading: the same ferocious wit runs throughout… That said, comparisons do not do full justice to Jacobson’s achievement in what may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times.”  John Burnside, Guardian

“A snarling, effervescent and ambitious philosophical work of fiction… Jacobson’s triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling.”  James Kidd, Independent

“Jacobson once jokingly referred to himself as a Jewish Jane Austen. Here he reinvents himself as a Jewish Aldous Huxley – and displays mastery in the role.”  Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday

“Jacobson…goes from strength to strength.”  William Leith, Evening Standard

“Mystifying, serious and blackly funny.”  Max Liu, Independent on Sunday


14 August, 2014

About Howard Jacobson

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), the highly acclaimed The Act of Love, and The Finkler Question, winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Howard Jacobson lives in London.

Other books by Howard Jacobson


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