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Howard Jacobson Biography

(1942– ), Coming from Behind, Peeping Tom, Redback, In the Land of Oz

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British novelist, born in Manchester, educated at Cambridge University; he has taught English at Selwyn College, Cambridge, Sydney University, and Wolverhampton Polytechnic. His first novel, Coming from Behind (1983), was set at the fictional West Midlands institution of Wrottesley Polytechnic and concerned the exploits of Sefton Goldberg, a young Jewish academic obsessed with the notion that he is a failure; written in a dryly comic style, the novel pays ironic homage to the campus novels of M. Bradbury and D. Lodge and is also reminiscent, in its use of farce and slapstick, of the novels of T. Sharpe. Peeping Tom (1984) was equally satirical in its portrayal of the morbid fixations of its protagonist, Barney Fugelman, whose West Country idyll is disturbed by his fantasies about Thomas Hardy and his conviction that his wife is betraying him. Redback (1987) was set in Australia (the title refers to a venomous Australian spider). He has also published a travel book, also about Australia, In the Land of Oz (1987). A more recent novel, The Very Model of a Man (1992), considered the Jewish experience in the light of the story of its most famous family—Adam and Eve and their sons, Cain and Abel.

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