Howard Jacobson won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Finkler Question, according to the press release issued by the Man Booker Prizes official website.

One of the joys of living across the pond is that we get to learn off the Booker recipient during the day instead of waiting until the late hours of the night when the winner is announced during a formal dinner banquet in honor of the six authors whose books were shortlisted for the prize.

Speaking of the novel in question, the press release reads: “The Finkler Question is a novel about love, loss and male friendship, and explores what it means to be Jewish today.”

I first came into contact with the Booker Prize the summer before my senior year of high school. Our AP English teacher gave us the assignment to choose our summer reading. We had to pick one Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, one Booker Prize-winning novel, and any novel written by a Nobel Prize winner in literature.

I chose to read Amsterdam, Ian McEwan’s neo-tragedy, which won the Prize in 1998. Along with A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole), and The Fall (Albert Camus), my summer reading provided me with some of the best works of literature I ever had the opportunity to read for a class.

Really, they were some of the best books I’ve ever read, period. So, why post this brief little message? I encourage you (the currently very small readership of our Westwind blog) to go out and explore prize-winning books. Prizes like the Pulitzer, the Booker, and the Nobel are usually awarded to people because their work has made a great contribution to the literary landscape of our times. Delve into the shortlists. Then the longlists. Know your literature: not just the Hemmingways, Faulkners, and Plaths.

Just like people argue about which film should have won the academy award, wouldn’t it be nice if people debated whether or not Jacobson really deserved his award?

For the official press release click here.