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‘A wonderful memoir, written with great linguistic brio. Candid, shrewd and moving – a classic of its kind,’ William Boyd
Howard Jacobson’s funny, revealing and tender memoir of his path to becoming a writer.
It’s my theory that only the unhappy, the uncomfortable, the gauche, the badly put together, aspire to make art. Why would you seek to reshape the world unless you were ill-at-ease in it? And I came out of the womb in every sense the wrong way round.
In Mother’s Boy, Booker-Prize winner Howard Jacobson reveals how he became a writer. It is an exploration of belonging and not-belonging, of being an insider and outsider, both English and Jewish.
Born to a working-class family in 1940s Manchester, the great-grandson of Lithuanian and Russian immigrants, Jacobson was raised by his mother, grandmother and aunt Joyce. His father was a regimental tailor, as well as an upholsterer, a market-stall holder, a taxi driver, a balloonist, and a magician.
Grappling always with his family’s history and his Jewish identity, Jacobson takes us from the growing pains of childhood to studying at Cambridge under F.R. Leavis, and landing in Sydney as a maverick young professor on campus, through to his first marriage, the birth of his son and beyond.
Full of Jacobson’s trademark humour and infused with bittersweet memories of his parents, this is the story of a writer’s beginnings.
‘Laugh-out-loud glorious and uproarious of course – but don’t let the self-ribbing fool you; this is deep and poignant,’ Simon Schama
A wonderful memoir, written with great linguistic brio. Candid, shrewd and moving - a classic of its kind. -- William Boyd Laugh-out-loud glorious and uproarious of course - but don't let the self-ribbing fool you; this is deep and poignant. -- Simon Schama Pure delight. Witty, sometimes acid observations jostle with tender reminiscences and enduringly wise insights into what it is to be a Jew, a man, a human being. Its joys help explain why Howard Jacobson is rightly regarded as one of Britain's very greatest writers. -- Jonathan Freedland Howard Jacobson has always been hilariously brilliant at writing fictional versions of his life. He can, it turns out, also tell the real story with all that brilliance and hilarity, with the added gain for the reader of finding out what - and who - made him that writer. -- David Baddiel I was totally absorbed at every stage. . . It is a joy to read. . . I believe it will become a classic. -- Melvyn Bragg This memoir, at once hilarious and poignant, braids together a brilliant stand-up comedian's depiction of a Jewish child's coming-of age in mid-20th-century England with a subtle, nuanced account of the growth of a novelist's mind. Crafted in a vivid, resourceful English in which Yiddish repeatedly surfaces as the mot juste, Mother's Boy is a thrilling book, full of tenderness, rage, and sharp intelligence. -- Stephen Greenblatt Exquisite elegance... Few Jewish writers, except possibly for Isaac Bashevis Singer or Bernard Malamud, document so well the paradoxes of Jewish life in a Western society. -- Steven Berkoff Mining down to the roots of his creativity, Mother's Boy is very funny, profoundly serious and demonically fluent. If there is a better contemporary account of the cost of becoming a writer, I've yet to read it * Spectator * Howard Jacobson meticulously chronicles his lifetime of failures. But with the rat-a-tat-tat delivery of a great stand-up, he brilliantly transforms calamity into rip-roaring comedy. -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * [A] brilliantly funny memoir. -- Kathryn Hughes * Sunday Times *
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