An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson is the acclaimed author of The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), No More Mr. Nice Guy, The Act of Love, and the Man Booker Prize-winning The Finkler Question.
His latest novel is Zoo Time.
From Jacobson's Q & A with Elizabeth Day at the Observer:
Your new novel, Zoo Time, features a publisher who has committed suicide, an agent in hiding and a novelist harangued by book groups. Is publishing doomed?Read about who Jacobson would most like to sit next to at a dinner party.
It's not my experience that my publisher shot himself or my agent is always hiding from me but I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think there was something worrying about, not so much publishing, but the state of the book… some of the things that I play with, some of the jokes I make, attack things that need to be attacked.
You write acerbically about genre fiction…
I'm contemptuous of genre things... You go into a good bookshop like Foyles and see a kind of "vampire room". I was sitting in the American Embassy a while back, trying to get a visa, and every woman in the room was reading the vampire series – you know, the one with the black cover and the bit of blood. Now people are reading soft porn! What happened to the fun of reading a good book? There are people who, when they say they prefer Henry James to Fifty Shades of Grey, they do actually mean that.
Your protagonist, middle-aged novelist Guy Ableman, gets collared by a furious woman at a book group. Did that happen to you?
Reading groups should be the most wonderful things but every time you go to one you...[read on]