J: A Novel

J: A Novel

2.93 (3,429 ratings by Goodreads)
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Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize
Shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize

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. Howard Jacobson, one of Britain's greatest novelists and winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize, has written a novel which 'may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times'. (John Burnside, Guardian)

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 word 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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 31mm | 575g
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0224101978
  • 9780224101974
  • 182,793

Review Text

"Jacobson has crafted an immersive, complex experience with care and guile."
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Review quote

"A mighty novel." * Observer * "Remarkable... May well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times" * Guardian * "Thrilling and enigmatic" * New York Times Book Review * "Snarling, effervescent and ambitious... Jacobson's triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling" * Independent * "Jacobson...goes from strength to strength." -- William Leith * Evening Standard * "Very little about Jacobson's circuitous romance-cum-murder mystery is straightforward - other than its originality and its devastating brilliance." -- Stephanie Cross * Daily Mail * "A dystopia that invites comparison with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World" * Sunday Times * "Mystifying, serious and blackly funny." -- Max Liu * Independent on Sunday * "To say J is unlike any other novel Jacobson has written would be misleading: the same ferocious wit runs throughout... That said, comparisons do not do full justice to Jacobson's achievement in what may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times." -- John Burnside * Guardian * "A snarling, effervescent and ambitious philosophical work of fiction... Jacobson's triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling." -- James Kidd * Independent * "Jacobson once jokingly referred to himself as a Jewish Jane Austen. Here he reinvents himself as a Jewish Aldous Huxley - and displays mastery in the role." -- Max Davidson * Mail on Sunday * "Jacobson has crafted an immersive, complex experience with care and guile." -- Anthony Cummins * Observer * "J is a remarkable achievement: an affecting, unsettling - and yes, darkly amusing - novel." -- Matthew Adams * National * "A provocatively dystopian novel that depicts a disturbingly nice world." * Sunday Times * "Sufficient testament to a writer who is...producing some of his most powerful work." * Irish Independent * "A subtle, topical, thought-provoking and painfully uncomfortable novel." -- John Sutherland * The Times * "You can't help feeling that this is an important book, and it's hugely compelling... Worthy of its status as a Booker long-listee." -- Emma Herdman * UK Press Syndication * "Jacobson's most significantly Jewish book and quite possibly his masterpiece." * Standpoint * "The persistent reader will be duly rewarded, as the denouement reveals a hidden logic and the book climaxes with a brilliant literary (and philosophical) coup." * Sunday Business Post * "Contemporary literature is overloaded with millenarian visions of destroyed landscapes and societies in flames, but Jacobson has produced one that feels frighteningly new by turning the focus within: the ruins here are the ruins of language, imagination, love itself." -- Tim Martin * Daily Telegraph * "The savagery of his imagery and his conclusions are impossible to forget, and maybe even to deny." * Herald * "Confounds expectations but confirms Jacobson's reputation." * New Statesman * "I loved this book. A compelling tale that is bound to be a hot contender for the Booker." -- Rebecca Wallersteiner * Lady * "Impressive, disturbingly timely - a massive step aside and a noticeable step up from most of his other fiction." -- Bharat Tandon * Times Literary Supplement * "A pivotal - and impressive change of direction for [Jacobson]." -- Gerald Isaaman * UK Press Syndication * "Sentence by sentence, he remains perhaps the best British author around." -- James Walton * Spectator * "This is Jacobson at his provocative, surprising, brilliant best." -- Kate Saunders * Saga Magazine * "Thrilling written and the most ambitious work on the shortlist... Once you've worked out what's going on, you'll be gripped by its hints of an anti-Semitic armageddon." * Mail on Sunday * "It's stark and daring." -- Gaby Wood * Telegraph * "A brilliant conspiracy yarn examining the manipulation of collective memory." * Mail on Sunday *
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About Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson has written fifteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J.
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Rating details

3,429 ratings
2.93 out of 5 stars
5 9% (292)
4 22% (754)
3 35% (1,185)
2 24% (819)
1 11% (379)
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