Big print run for Booker winner Howard Jacobson

  • Published

Bloomsbury are to print 150,000 fresh copies of Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, which won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the publisher said it had ordered a "very large" reprint "to cover immediate stock needs".

Author and columnist Jacobson beat contenders including double winner Peter Carey to win the £50,000 prize.

The book had sold 8,500 copies before it was announced as the winner, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells said the bookseller had ordered thousands of extra copies of The Finkler Question in the wake of Jacobson's win.

Bloomsbury's new print run includes 50,000 copies for the UK, 30,000 paperbacks for export to Europe and 75,000 for the US and Canada.

Before the prizegiving, Emma Donoghue was the biggest seller on this year's shortlist - her book Room had sold more than 34,000 copies before Tuesday.

'Marvellous book'

Jacobson's winning book explores Jewishness through the lives of three friends - two of them Jewish and one who wishes he was.

Chair of the Booker judges, Sir Andrew Motion, described the novel as "very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle".

Accepting the award, Jacobson joked he had been writing unused acceptance speeches for years.

"I note that my language in these speeches grows less gracious with the years," he said.

"You start to want to blame the judges who have given you the prize for all the prizes they didn't give you. But they aren't, of course, the same judges.

"Tonight, I forgive everyone - they were only doing their job, those judges, every one of whose names I could reel off."

Sir Andrew said the "marvellous book" was "all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be".

"It's highly articulate, everything works in it very well," he said.

"That is what you expect from him but it's also, in an interesting and complicated way, a very sad book, a very melancholy book."

'Jewish Austen'

Image caption,
Jacobson writes a weekly column for The Independent

The Finkler Question is Jacobson's 11th novel. It tells the story of a former BBC radio producer, Julian Treslove, who is attacked on his way home from an evening out reminiscing with friends.

After the incident, his sense of his own identity begins to change.

Jacobson, who describes himself as "the Jewish Jane Austen", has said the book is about "what Jewishness looks like to someone from the outside".

"I bring the ways of Jewish thinking into the English novel," he added.

The five-strong judging panel met on Tuesday afternoon and decided the winner in one hour.

But the decision was not unanimous with the judges - Sir Andrew, journalist and broadcaster Tom Sutcliffe, Royal Opera House creative director Deborah Bull, author Frances Wilson and Financial Times literary editor Rosie Blau - voting three to two for The Finkler Question.

Luggage entrepreneur

Jacobson, who lives in London, was born in Manchester and educated in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, before studying at Downing College, Cambridge,

He taught at the University of Sydney before returning to Cambridge to teach at Selwyn College.

Jacobson's time lecturing at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the 1970s provided the inspiration for debut novel Coming From Behind, published in 1983.

He went on to write books including 1992's Cain-and-Abel inspired The Very Model of a Man, 1998's No More Mister Nice Guy - the story of a TV critic's mid-life crisis - and the Mighty Walzer, based in the Jewish community of 1950s Manchester.

He was previously longlisted for the Booker in 2002, for Who's Sorry Now, about a south London luggage entrepreneur who loves four women.

Jacobson, who writes a weekly column for The Independent and has presented a number of TV documentaries, was again longlisted four years later for Kalooki Nights.

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