On 1 November 2019, a group of students from the UvA English Department met the award-winning author Howard Jacobson (Man Booker Prize, 2010) to discuss his latest novel, Live a Little.
Led by department staff members Dr Ben Moore, Dr Kristine Johanson and Dr Rose van der Zwaard, the group of students were invited to attend the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague, where they watched a public interview with Mr Jacobson and the comedian Micha Wertheim before taking part in a private audience with the author.
The participating students, who are studying a range of BA and MA English literature courses, came together ahead of the event to reflect on the novel and prepare their questions in two special reading group sessions. “It was fantastic to discuss the novel with this group of students and to hear their responses to the novel’s mixture of humour, love and pathos”, says Dr Moore, “and then to have the chance to explore the novel’s themes with the author was really the icing on the cake. It was especially pleasing to hear Howard Jacobson remark at the end of the discussion that while he doesn’t often speak to students these days, he thoroughly enjoyed our conversation”.
This event is expected to mark the beginning of a collaboration with the Crossing Border festival, through which the department will be able to offer similar opportunities to BA and MA students in future years.