British author Howard Jacobson was the surprise winner of the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Finkler Question, the first comic novel to scoop one of the English-speaking world's most coveted literary awards.
The 68-year-old writer and critic, who specialises in writing about what it means to be Jewish in Britain today, was the rank outsider with bookmaker Ladbrokes ahead of the announcement, while Tom McCarthy's C was firm favourite.
Jacobson, whose first novel appeared 27 years ago, said he had begun to wonder whether he would ever win the prize, now in its 42nd year.
"I was truly flabbergasted," he told reporters after receiving the award in the medieval splendour of London's Guildhall. "I'm so sick of being described as the 'underrated Howard Jacobson'.
"They (Man Booker judges) took me in their arms a little bit in the longlist, the shortlist felt like an embrace. I never thought the affair was going to be consummated."
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