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The Solipsist

Howard Jacobson swore he wouldn’t write another Jewish novel. What happened?

January 21, 2008

When we meet Maxie Glickman, a middle-aged cartoonist from Manchester, England, with a history of rotten romances, he’s busy tracking down an Orthodox friend from childhood who long ago gassed his parents. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for Howard Jacobson’s ninth novel, Kalooki Nights, a comic and imaginative journey into the passions and dysfunctions of a British Jew and those who surround him.

Though critics may facilely call him the British Philip Roth, Jacobson counters that he suspects he puts a higher premium on entertaining than Roth does, and instead points to Jane Austen as a model. In England, he’s also known as an irreverent columnist for The Independent. He spoke to us about Kalooki Nights, about the depths and limits of post-Holocaust identity, and about his repeated failures to recognize good business ventures when they’ve come his way.

Illustration by Aaron Artessa.

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Sara Ivry is the host of Vox Tablet, Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter @saraivry.