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  • Published: 29 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781529110555
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99

Live a Little

A wickedly observed novel about falling in love at the end of your life, by the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Finkler Question

'A . . . tender love story . . . This book is alive. It pulses with warmth and intelligence' The Times

A wickedly observed novel about falling in love at the end of your life, by the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Finkler Question.

At the age of ninety-something, Beryl Dusinbery is forgetting everything - including her own children. She spends her days stitching morbid samplers and tormenting her two carers with tangled tales of her husbands and affairs.

Shimi Carmelli can do up his own buttons, walks without a frame and speaks without spitting. Among the widows of North London, he's whispered about as the last of the eligible bachelors. He forgets nothing -especially not the shame of a childhood incident that has long hung over him. There's very little left remaining for either of them. . . But perhaps just enough to heal some of the hurt inflicted along the way, and find new meaning in what's left.


  • Published: 29 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781529110555
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson has written sixteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question; he was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for J.

Also by Howard Jacobson

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Praise for Live a Little

A joyous new novel… A life-affirming tale of late-flowering love… if we manage to live a little longer, we might have the privilege of enjoying more novels such as this one.

Alexander Nurnberg, Sunday Times

Let’s pause to consider [Howard Jacobson’s] comic elegance and precision… Just look at the way he makes the English language dance for us… the characters, as they converse, striking sparks off one another.

Nicholas Lezard, Spectator

Brilliantly observed… No other novelist writing in Britain could dramatise this nonagenarian love story with greater verve and tenderness, while never forgetting that this is a resplendently comedic form.

Tim Adams, Observer

[Howard Jacobson] is not one to let the catastrophe of old age get in the way of a good laugh, or a surprisingly tender love story… [Live a Little is] merrily bonkersThis book is alive. It pulses with warmth and intelligence, and, unusually for a novel about old age, it has a lot of style.

Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Times

A master of the slightly dark comedy… Jacobson brings this little pocket of North London to life superbly, and his two ageing protagonists are wonderful creations, depicted with wit and compassion.


A thoroughly enjoyable read. For a literature snob and a language obsessive… there is a lot to feast on… for someone looking for an emotionally honest storyline, the book also delivers.

Holly Baxter, Independent

Howard Jacobson is a rather rare bird among contemporary novelists, for he devotes himself to what Arnold Bennett called the great cause of cheering us all up. So one opens a new Jacobson novel in the expectation of pleasure… Jacobson’s observations are as acute and funny as ever.

Allan Massie, Scotsman

This is a soft-hearted novel, warm and optimistic… [with] nimble, chewy sentences… there is writing to relish on every page.

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

With effortless precision… [Jacobson’s] exceedingly funny and discursive prose style often belies more serious observations on life… There are opportunities for humour, redemption and hope regardless of how close the end is.

Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

A meander of a novel that nonetheless feels urgent… it’s rarely less than bitterly funny in its determination to face up to the obliteration that awaits us all.

Alex Clark, Guardian

Witty and razor sharp… Almost forty years after the publication of his first novel, Jacobson shows that he has lost none of his verve, insight or ability to write dark comedy.

Ian Critchley, Literary Review

A tender story of unlikely love… Wise, witty, and deftly crafted.

Kirkus Reviews

Fast and clever… brilliant.

David Herman, Jewish Chronicle

As vigorous and darkly mirthful as it is tender… [Live a Little has] unparalleled linguistic verve. Vintage Jacobson.

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

A darkly funny geriatric love story… Jacobson is nearing eighty, and Live a Little is one of those late-life novels full of such wisdom and insight that it makes you wonder why anyone ever bothers reading – or watching – the young at all.

Shalom Auslander, Times Literary Supplement

A joyful excess of invention… Here love is a grave matter, but then skulls are famous for their grins.

Suzi Feay, Tablet

Tender and funny.


Jacobson's familiar wit and whimsy combine with verve and tenderness in this narrative of nonagenarian love found along Finchley Road… witty banter and enjoyment of conversation is at the very heart of the novel.

Jewish News

A tender and insightful portrait of unlikely love blossoming in old age.


We can forgive Mr Jacobson anything for the sake of his wit and wisdom… Readers would be ungrateful not to allow themselves an occasional smile or chortle.

Charles Keen, Oldie, *Novel of the Month*

You will be hard pushed to find a more enjoyable novel to get stuck into… Thanks to its warmth, humanity and humour, Live a Little feels like the ideal book for these autumnal months.

Will Gore, Spectator

Jacobson has a wonderful ear for language…he is compassionate, funny and occasionally very profound.

Richard Jaffa, Birmingham Jewish Recorder

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