About the Author
Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester in 1942 and grew up in a poor, Jewish area of the city. He was educated at Cambridge University and shortly after graduating he left England and travelled to Australia where he lectured at the University of Sydney for three years. On returning to England, Howard took a post at Selwyn College, Cambridge. During the 1970s he taught English at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the West Midlands, an experience which provided the material for his first novel, Coming From Behind
(1983). Subsequent novels include Peeping Tom
(1984), a comedy of sexual jealousy satirising literary biography; The Very Model of a Man
(1992), a re-working of the Cain and Abel myth; No More Mister Nice Guy
(1998), the story of television critic Frank Ritz's mid-life crisis; and The Mighty Walzer
(1999), set in the Jewish community in Manchester during the 1950s, which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing and the Jewish Quarterly
Literary Prize for Fiction in 2000.
Howard Jacobson's latest novel, Who's Sorry Now, was published in 2002 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Reading Group Guide
1. Despite Kretiman's established role as a serial adulterer, it is in fact the steadfast Charlie, a man whose identity is thoroughly wedded to his wife's, who initiates the wife swapping. Although Kreitman is happy to play along, would he ever have initiated this scenario himself? If not, why not?
2. The women in the novel could be viewed as of secondary importance to the crises of Charlie and Kreitman. How does your opinion of Charlie and Hazel change through the novel? Who do you eventually believe is in charge of the situation -- the men or the women?
3. Nyman, the courier, lurks in the background throughout the novel. What do you feel his role is in the novel? What is it about him that makes Kreitman so angry?
4. It would appear on the surface that Kreitman's life is dominated with the need for sexual gratification and the company of women, however, he does not appear to actually enjoy the act of sex, can be incredibly uptight and is never happy with the situation he currently inhabits. Is Kreitman a man in love with unhappiness?
5. Kreitman lives under the shadow of his parents and particularly the need to please a mother who seems unpleasable; no matter what his achievements, in her eyes he has never aimed high enough. Is this novel in fact an examination of the effects of family life on an individual?
6. Is the entire novel an apology for adulterers -- male adulterers -- whose response to the accusation of misogyny is that, on the contrary, they love women?