Happy Birthday, Howard Jacobson, born 25 August 1942
- You begin by reading reading reading. Read good writing. Don’t write about your life, but start with what you know about. That doesn’t mean it’s you; you might know something else.
- Novels began as a comic form and should remain as a comic form.
- One of the reasons there seem to be fewer readers for literature today than there were yesterday is that the concept of failure has been outlawed. If we are all beautiful, all clever, all happy, all successes in our way, what do we want with the language of the dispossessed?
- The politics of youth are, by definition, the politics of ignorance.
- There was no child. Children spoilt the story.
- How do you explain to somebody who doesn’t understand that you don’t build a library to read. A library is a resource. Something you go to, for reference, as and when. But also something you simply look at, because it gives you succour, answers to some idea of who you are or, more to the point, who you would like to be, who you will be once you own every book you need to own.
- Novelists are drawn to failure. Those who prosper in the world as it is have no need to re-imagine it.
- Read other writers but don’t be other writers. Don’t be cowed by all the great writers that you like.
- Remember that it’s your job as a writer, if you see any sign of ideology in you, to kill it. Writing is not the expression of your belief system. What you believe is of no interest to anybody. Almost what anybody believes is of no interest to anybody.
- Remember how superior art is to belief. And away you go!
Jacobson is a British author and journalist. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question. He is best known for writing comic novels with British Jewish characters at their centre.
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