LoveReading View on J

Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014.

Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014.

For thirty years Jacobson has stuck to his roots, mining his own life for material … until now for, with this book, he has switched to making things up.  The result is a triumph.  Set in the future and revolving round a tender love story, Jacobson has created a strange society.  Hanging over everything is an event, or series of events, that happened some time in the 2010/20s, referred to as What Happened, if it Happened.  Gradually we learn more.  The lovers are innocent which gives an emotional intensity to the whole thing as we flit back through family histories.  This is a rich and important book, utterly brilliant.

Sarah Broadhurst

J Synopsis

Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn't know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn't then, and isn't now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn't ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren't sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they've been pushed into each other's arms. But who would have pushed them, and why? Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe - a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened. J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World, thought provoking and life changing. It is like no other novel that Howard Jacobson has written.

The Good Book Guide Review

Howard Jacobson has broken new ground with his latest novel, setting it in a dystopian world where history books are hard to come by, diaries have been hidden or destroyed, and libraries put obstacles in the way of research. The shadow hanging over this society is a cataclysm that is only obliquely referred to as ‘WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED’. Everything and everyone is affected by the disaster that dare not speak its name, and that includes the couple called Ailinn and Kervern, whose romance is at the heart of this book. They even doubt how real their love for each other could be in a world where freedom is questioned and each move may be monitored by some sinister controlling force. This is a powerful, thought-provoking novel that still contains those classic elements of sardonic wit and dark humour that are a hallmark of Jacobson’s work.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780224101974
Publication date: 14/08/2014
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780224101974
Publication date: 14th August 2014
Author: Howard Jacobson
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 336 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Howard Jacobson

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), the highly acclaimed The Act of Love, the 2010 Man Booker Prize-winning, The Finkler Question and, most recently, Zoo Time. Howard Jacobson lives in Soho, London.

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