British author wins Booker prize for comic novel

In a surprise win, Howard Jacobson was awarded the 2010 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday night in a ceremony in London for his novel “The Finkler Question,” BBC informs. Jacobson beat out Tom McCarthy, whose novel “C” had been a favourite among British oddsmakers, and four other books for the honour. “I am speechless,” Jacobson, 68, said as he took the stage, joking, “Fortunately, I prepared one earlier.” Jacobson, a native of England who has written 15 books and has a weekly column in the British newspaper the Independent, has twice been long-listed for the Man Booker – in 2002 and 2006 – but this was the first year he made it to the short list. Jacobson, whose first novel appeared 27 years ago, said he had begun to wonder whether he would ever win the prize, now in its 42nd year. “I was truly flabbergasted,” he told reporters after receiving the award in the medieval splendour of London’s Guildhall. “I’m so sick of being described as the ‘underrated Howard Jacobson’. Poet Andrew Motion, chairman of the judges, said it would be a mistake to describe Jacobson’s work as pure comedy: “It is comic, it is laughter, but it’s laughter in the dark.”

“As all serious artists do, he is mining his immediate milieu as a way of directly unearthing the deeper questions of family, society, belief, culture, relationships — the underlying nature of humanity.” Besides a cheque for $80,000 and a long list of interview requests from the world’s media, Jacobson can expect to see sales of his latest novel soar. The Man Booker, the most prestigious award in British publishing, comes with an award of 50,000 pounds or about $79,000; it all but guarantees bestseller status in the United Kingdom.

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