by Howard Jacobson
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Admirers of the great Howard Jacobson have made a parlor game of accounting for why he's not been recognized as one of the most absorbing and intelligent Anglophone novelists. It beggars the imagination to think that the man who wrote The Mighty Walzer (1999) has won no major accolade in award-mad Britain and has barely appeared in print in the States. So, some possibilities: He's been written off as a mere comic novelist, and a smut-peddling comedian at that; he's impolitely Jewish, his sentences lousy with Yiddish; and he laments the state of British culture in a weekly Independent column.
But nothing, I suspect, has been as damaging to Jacobson as we admirers ourselves. We insist on recommending him in the least helpful of ways: Either he is the British Philip Roth or he is the Jewish Zadie Smith. But Jacobson
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