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Howard Jacobson: The Importance of Comedy, Filth and Sex
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Sydney Writers Festival
Howard Jacobson calls himself a "Jewish Jane
Austen," as opposed to his critics' description as the "English
Phillip Roth." Suffice to say, he's a funny guy. He's also the winner
of the 2010 Man Booker Prize with his comic novel, The Finkler
His unexpected win would seem to put paid to the idea that comedy has
disappeared from the novel. At a Sydney Writers Festival session
called The Return of the Wry, Jacobson tells media lecturer Fiona
Giles why, more than ever, there's a big need for funny.
In it, he points out that, in the time of Ancient Greece, was the
direct opposite of tragedy in that it was focused on the basics of life,
such as sex and bodily functions. These days, he says, there should be
nowhere that comedy doesn't dare to go, including the hardest and
darkest things of life.
Jacobson confesses why he's suspicious of Shakespeare's Shylock,
unanimity, ideologues and atheists ... but also why he quite likes
Joyce's Jewish hero in Ulysses, and the aristocratic baby and talking
dog of the TV show "Family Guy."