Sefton Goldberg: mid-thirties, English teacher at Wrottesley Poly in the West Midlands; small, sweaty, lustful, defiantly unappreciative of beer, nature and organised games; gnawingly aware of being an urban Jew islanded in a sea of country-loving Anglo-Saxons. Obsessed by failure - morbidly, in his own case, gloatingly, in that of his contemporaries - so much so that he plans to write a bestseller on the subject.
In the meantime he is uncomfortably aware of advancing years and atrophying achievement, and no amount of lofty rationalisation can disguise the triumph of friends and colleagues, not only from Cambridge days but even within the despised walls of the Poly itself, or sweeten the bitter pill of another's success...
From the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2010.
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