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Man Booker Prize for Prestwich writer

Date published: 15 October 2010

Author Howard Jacobson, who was born and brought up in Prestwich, has won the Man Booker Prize for his comic novel The Finkler Question.

Jacobson scooped the coveted award and £50,000 in prize money at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London.

He said his mother loved to read and read to him all the time when was small, he also thanked his former teachers at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, who had taught him to love literature.

Jacobson's winning book explores Jewishness through the lives of three friends - two of them Jewish and one who wishes he was.

Chair of the Booker judges, Sir Andrew Motion, described the novel as "very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle".

The Finkler Question is Jacobson's 11th novel. It tells the story of a former BBC radio producer, Julian Treslove, who is attacked on his way home from an evening out reminiscing with friends.

After the incident, his sense of his own identity begins to change.

Jacobson, who describes himself as "the Jewish Jane Austen", has said the book is about "what Jewishness looks like to someone from the outside".

"I bring the ways of Jewish thinking into the English novel," he added.

The five-strong judging panel met on Tuesday afternoon and decided the winner in one hour.

But the decision was not unanimous with the judges - Sir Andrew, journalist and broadcaster Tom Sutcliffe, Royal Opera House creative director Deborah Bull, author Frances Wilson and Financial Times literary editor Rosie Blau - voting three to two for The Finkler Question.

Jacobson, who lives in London, was born in Manchester and educated in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, before studying at Downing College, Cambridge,

He taught at the University of Sydney before returning to Cambridge to teach at Selwyn College.

Jacobson's time lecturing at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the 1970s provided the inspiration for debut novel Coming From Behind, published in 1983.

He went on to write books including 1992's Cain-and-Abel inspired The Very Model of a Man, 1998's No More Mister Nice Guy - the story of a TV critic's mid-life crisis - and the Mighty Walzer, based in the Jewish community of 1950s Manchester.

He was previously longlisted for the Booker in 2002, for Who's Sorry Now, about a south London luggage entrepreneur who loves four women.

Jacobson, who writes a weekly column for The Independent and has presented a number of TV documentaries, was again longlisted four years later for Kalooki Nights.