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Author interviews

Anthony Clavane at Jewish Book Week

February 27, 2013

A funny thing happened to me on the way to Jewish Book Week. I saw my hero Howard Jacobson, told him who I was and he said: “Oh yes, someone asked me to sign a copy of your book the other week.” A bit bizarre, perhaps, but about as good as it gets.

In ‘Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here?’ I look at the Jewish attitude to football, and 150 years of involvement in the Beautiful Game. I have been reading Jacobson novels all my life and, as I explore in the book, cannot understand why one or two of his characters see football as an “un-Jewish game”.

In the other events I have attended atbthis year’s JBW there has been a growing recognition that the sport is part and parcel of Jewish life. David Milliband explained to David Aaronovich that it was discussed in his household just as much as the intellectual and political issues of the day.

Milliband corrected one questioner who asked about his brother becoming “the first Jewish prime minister” by arguing that Ed would, if he made it to the top of the greasy pole, be “a prime minister who was Jewish”. I have written about sport for many years now and admired the likes of Brian Glanville, David Goldblatt, Simon Kuper and David Winner without thinking of them as Jewish sports writers. But as I wrote the book I felt that there was a Jewish outsider’s sensibility in their work.

As Jacobson told his audience in a hilarious, though-provoking event, Jewish writers tend to keep schtum about their ethnicity. One of my chapters looks at the Spurs manager David Pleat. Many readers have said to me they never realised Pleat was Jewish.

From Leonard Cohen to Simon Schama, this year’s JBW has already featured some enthralling discussions. I feel very honoured to be speaking at a book festival alongside such iconic writers. My session is this Sunday, and if anyone wants to bring along a Jacobson novel, I’ll be pleased to sign it.

Anthony Clavane , David Dee. Chair: David Goldblatt
Sunday, 3 March 2013 – 3:30pm
Hall 2
Kings Place
90 York Way, London,
020 7520 1490

You can also see a brilliant video of Anthony here:

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