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The Making of Henry

The Making of Henry

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Written by Howard JacobsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Howard Jacobson

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • On Sale: September 14, 2004
  • Price: $15.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-4000-7861-5 (1-4000-7861-X)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

From one of England’s most highly regarded novelists—winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize—a ravishing, mordantly funny novel about a man so temperamentally opposed to the world in the twenty-first century that he nearly misses out on the happiness that one woman — and one dog—can offer.

One day, out of the blue, Henry Nagel receives a solicitor’s letter telling him he has inherited a sumptuous apartment in St John’s Wood. Divine intervention? Or his late father’s love nest? Henry doesn’t know, but he is glad to escape the North. Not that the ghosts of Henry’s past are prepared to disappear without a struggle—his old school-friend Osmond, his tragic great aunt Marghanita for whom Henry once entertained a dangerous passion, and his father Izzi Nagel, upholsterer turned illusionist, fire-eater and origamist. And in his new life, Henry encounters more adventures: Moira, the waitress with the crooked smile and custard hair, seems to want him. Kicking and screaming every inch of the way, Henry realizes he might finally be falling in love. Will love be the making of Henry? Or will walking his neighbour’s dog?

The Making of Henry is a true, subtle, funny novel. It unfolds like one of Henry's father's paper palm trees, section after section rising fluidly from a single trunk. When Henry finally falls in love, his whole life is changed, including, it turns out, his past. A comic gem.” —Kate Christensen, author of In the Drink and The Epicure’s Lament

“The writing is fluent and seductive and funny . . . The narrative effortlessly straddles past and present . . .hilarious and unexpectedly moving.” —The New Statesman

“This is a terrific novel, full of pert observations and salty insights into the ageing process–not just Henry’s but the world’s . . . Jacobson is at the top of his form.” —Evening Standard

“Jacobson’s writing is as luscious and funny as ever. You’re never far from comic brilliance.” —The Daily Telegraph

“[N]ot just entertaining but often gloriously, edifyingly funny . . . [T]his anatomy of one life, with all its concerns about love, death and what tethers us to other people, contains an expansive and compassionate vision of humanity.” —The Observer
“[A] beautifully rounded portrait of a man gazing into the prism of the past in order to see the future . . . a touching, picturesque tale . . . seriously funny.” —The Sunday Telegraph

“Jacobson at his best . . . Henry Nagel is a fantastic creation–one of the smartest, most interesting, most complex failures in modern literature. ” —Jewish Chronicle

“The writing, while far too clever to descend into farce, is stuffed with brilliant hilarity . . . [Henry Nagel]’s imagined conversations with his deceased father are
comic and richly sophisticated, as all Henry’s conversations are, whether with dead parents or living lovers and neighbors.” —The Spectator

“It could be that Jacobson’s true achievement is to take on the mantle of our foremost comic complainant, in the great tradition of Kingsley Amis and Evelyn Waugh. There is no greater curmudgeon writing in English today.” —The Guardian

“[P]ainfully funny.” —The Sunday Times
“[M]asterly writing:  the language under tight control . . . . As always, it’s powerful, bang to rights, monstrously funny.” —The Independent