From the beginning, Oliver Walzer is a natural - at ping-pong. Even with his improvised bat (the Collins Classic edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde) he can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not a natural, being shy and frightened of women, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, fellow member of the Akiva Social Club Table Tennis team, his game improves. And while the Akiva boys teach him everything he needs to know about ping-pong, his father, Joel Walzer, teaches him everything there is to know about "swag." Unabashedly autobiographical, this is an hilarious and heartbreaking story of one man's coming of age in 1950's Manchester.
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"Jacobson writes with such verve, and his sense of humor is so sharp, that he could turn a novel of basket weaving into a ripsnorter." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. A delight from start to finish, and a note-perfect evocation of the gray 1950s." - Kirkus Reviews
"Poignant, moving, hilarious... laugh-out-loud funny... the sort of book that might change your life." - Observer (UK)
"Jacobson is a great storyteller: phrases, anecdotes and atmosphere roll off the page with the ease and sublime, scary grace of drunken eels - he is unsurpassable." - The Times (UK)
"This mature novel has the sustained exuberance and passion of his youthful writing... an achingly funny book... an amazing achievement... There are few novelists today who can imbue the trifles of life with such poetry." - Independent (UK)
"Marvellous. Jacobson has not just written the first great novel about ping-pong. He has written one of the greatest sporting novels ever." - Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"[Jacobsons] humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade... comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh." - Express on Sunday (UK)
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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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