The Mighty Walzer
By Howard Jacobson
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Paperback, 9781608196852, 387pp.
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
List Price: $16.00*
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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.
“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)
“[Jacobson’s] humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade . . . comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh.”—Express on Sunday (UK)
In Howard Jacobson's 1999 novel The Mighty Walzer, which is now being published in the U.S., 14-year-old Oliver Walzer wins friends and confidence by playing table tennis. That is, he wins as much confidence as one can from playing pingpong. More at NPR.org
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