Zoo Time: Book summary and reviews of Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson

Zoo Time
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2012,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

Novelist Guy Ableman is in thrall to his vivacious wife Vanessa, a strikingly beautiful red-head, contrary, highly strung and blazingly angry. The trouble is, he is no less in thrall to her alluring mother, Poppy. More like sisters than mother and daughter, they come as a pair, a blistering presence that destroys Guy's peace of mind, suggesting the wildest stories but making it impossible for him to concentrate long enough to write any of them. Not that anyone reads Guy anyway. Not that anyone is reading anything. Reading, Guy fears, is finished.

His publisher, fearing the same, has committed suicide. His agent, like all agents, is in hiding. Vanessa, in the meantime, is writing a novel of her own. Guy doesn't expect her to finish it, or even start it, but he dreads the consequences if she does. In flight from personal disappointment and universal despair, Guy wonders if it's time to take his love for Poppy to another level. Fiction might be dead, but desire isn't. And out of that desire he imagines squeezing one more great book. By turns angry, elegiac, and rude, Zoo Time is a novel about love - love of women, love of literature, love of laughter. It shows our funniest writer at his brilliant best.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bad-boy funnyman Jacobson waxes pensive and topical - but no less mirthful - in his latest assault on the foibles of modern life... if there's justice, Jacobson will enjoy best-sellerdom in his place with this latest romp." - Kirkus Reviews

"Jacobson is a master of stylish prose with a comic bent. Here, as usual, there is an issue of gravity beneath the comedy. At a time when Borders (described as "barely breathing" here) is dead, and an erotic trilogy tops best-seller lists, Guy Ableman might indeed wonder about the future of the book." - Booklist

"Carries all the intimations of angst, melancholia and comedy that make Jacobson unique." - Daily Telegraph (UK)

"An extended howl over the terminal state of literature and a scabrously funny portrayal of a writer in torment ... Here's a reminder that a novel can offer a thorough insight into the workings of another's human mind, however different it may be from our own" - Metro (UK)

"When he's at full throttle like this, few British novelists can touch him for such stirring, belligerent comedy ... Jacobson's attack on our growing philistinism proving uncomfortably persuasive" - Daily Mail (UK)

"Fiction is important ... Howard Jacobson suggests in this seriously funny book that though it is troubled, it is not quite finished yet ... " - Daily Telegraph (UK)

"Does not fail to offer Jacobson's trademark pleasures, his wit, his energy his love of words - and some will add his self-deprecating priapic jokes to this list." - New Statesmen (UK)

" Comedy is never as clever as when Howard Jacobson is on a roll and this book finds him barrelling Independent on Sunday Brilliantly composed ... crackling with Jacobson's wit, superb wordplay and boundless exuberance." - Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Once again, Jacobson shows that the true humorist is among the best kinds of novelist. His humour is neither cheap nor chirpy but addresses fundamental mysteries." - Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"As sharp and intelligent as it is enjoyable Stylist Ableman's every beautifully constructed comic riff is a response to his fear of not being read." - Sunday Express (UK)

"Jacobson fills the tale with exuberant comedy. He has a stand-up's skill for callbacks, puns and quips, which make Zoo Time a total riot." - Time Out (UK)

" Jacobson is a master of keep-up-at-the-back smart talk" - Evening Standard (UK)

"Zoo Time is wonderfully witty, ferociously clever and assured to the point of swaggering - he's clever enough to tease his readers without taking his eyes off the road" - Jewish Chronicle

"There were many moments when I roared with laughter." - Readers Digest

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Author Information

Howard Jacobson Author Biography

Photo: Jenny Jacobson

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights, the highly acclaimed The Act of Love, Zoo Time, and The Finkler Question, which won the Man Booker Prize. Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It is a compilation of his columns and In the Land of Oz is an account of his travels in Australia.

Howard Jacobson lives in London.

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