Howard Jacobson

Celebrated novelist Howard Jacobson's most recent novel is Man Booker-nominated 'J'. He has also written 'The Finkler Question', published to great acclaim in 2010. An acerbic critic and broadcaster with a passion for literature and art, he is known for his ebullient wit.

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Coronation Street's Roy and Hayley Cropper

The lingering death of Hayley in Coronation Street is just too painful for me to watch

Art isn’t life, whereas soap opera always somehow feels as though it is

The French interior minister wants Dieudonne banned M'bala M'bala from the stage for what he says are racist and anti-Semitic performances.

If the quenelle isn’t Jew-hating, why is it performed on the railway track to Auschwitz

In all my table-tennis triumphs while studying at Cambridge, I never felt the need to touch my right shoulder in tribute to F R Leavis

A new year is by far the most upsetting date in the calendar

It marks the passage of time even more fatefully than birthdays do

Edward Snowden delivered this year's Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4

Edward Snowden should have asked the Queen for a few tips on his Christmas message

In fairness to Snowden, the Queen has been giving Christmas messages for a long time

This Christmas try having yours hopes dashed and expectations thwarted. It will do you good

Doing without even when one doesn’t have to is a good principle to learn

South Africa's deaf community accused the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial of being 'fake'

The fake sign language interpreter at Mandela's memorial is an irresistible metaphor for our times

The moment we forget our buffoonery, we invite the gods to slap us down

Rant and everyone soon tends to ignore you (a 1936 orator seeking a crowd at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park)

Why have I started lecturing people in the streets? Maybe because I consider it a form of public service

Favoured topics are matters of practical morality, dress sense, litter – that sort of thing

Sledging is an art, and here are the secrets of it

You'll need a ripe vocabulary, an ear for cadence - and respect for your opponent

Yes, we do need to change the age of consent. To 35. Only then are people ready to have sex

The first pleasure of bodily love isn’t penetration - it's disobedience

Russell Brand is on his Messiah Complex tour

A mix of madness and matter, Russell Brand evokes all the tedium of Shakespeare’s clowns

Is he clever or does he just use words we don’t expect him to use?

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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'