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by Howard Jacobson


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Howard Jacobson achieves universal resonance in a dazzling novel about British Jews clashing over Zionism . But let's press on for now. The Finkler Question (longlisted for this year's Man Booker prize) is full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding

Howard Jacobson achieves universal resonance in a dazzling novel about British Jews clashing over Zionism, writes Edward Docx. The Finkler Question (longlisted for this year's Man Booker prize) is full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding. It is also beautifully written with that sophisticated and near invisible skill of the authentic writer. Technically the characterisation is impeccable, the prose a subtle delight, the word selection everywhere perfect, the phrase-making fresh and arresting without self-consciousness.

The Finkler Question is a funny, furious, unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Q: Has your life changed (in ways good and bad) since you were awarded the Man Booker last Tuesday? A: Yes. Apart from having had no sleep and having lost my voice giving interviews around the world, I can think of no bad way it has changed. The good is almost incalculable.

Howard Jacobson recently described himself to The New York Times as an English writer who happens to know about Jews . The Finkler Question is all about anxiety.

Howard Jacobson recently described himself to The New York Times as an English writer who happens to know about Jews and would like to write like Jane Austen, with a little bit of Yiddish, adding that he’d rather be called the Jewish Jane Austen than the English Philip Roth. In saying this, he only affirmed the impression that his characters may be autobiographical in their self-delusions. In a larger sense it focuses on (and satirizes) the kinds of Jews who can be seen chanting ‘We are all Hezbollah’ outside the Israeli Embassy on a Saturday.

The Finkler Question is a 2010 novel written by British author Howard Jacobson. The novel won the Man Booker Prize

The Finkler Question is a 2010 novel written by British author Howard Jacobson. The novel won the Man Booker Prize. Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends

The Finkler Question. Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends.

The Finkler Question. Despite very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other – or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik.

Источник: Howard Jacobson. Другие книги схожей тематики: Автор. Julian Treslove, a former BBC worker, and Sam Finkler, a Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite very different lives, they& never lost touch with.

She didn’t know if Finkler was chasing her. But Abe, her ex, definitely was. He rang her two or three times after their chance meeting at Sons of Abraham. No dice, she told him, I’m happy. that he could see she was happy, which was no more than she deserved, but wanted to know what her being happy had to do with meeting him for a drink. You were drinking the other night. That was a special occasion. I’d just been accused of infanticide. When you’re accused of infanticide you drink. I’ll accuse you of infanticide.

He should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one... Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they ve never quite lost touch with each other or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. Now, both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor s grand, central London apartment. It s a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn? Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends losses.And it s that very evening, at exactly 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change. The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.

Comments: (7)

Vosho
This is a slightly amusing book that seems as pointless as the history it tells. It is the story of three adult Englishmen, friends, in contemporary London. Two are widowers and Jews and one is unmarried and not, but maybe wants to be, a Jew and/or married. The men seem to wander through life without much purpose or intent. Both separately and together, they rehearse Israel's right to exist, and anti-Semitism as it apparently exists in England. The meaning of Judaism as a religion or philosophy or guideline for living is largely lost.

The women who are peripheral to the male protagonists are more interesting although, I suppose, stereotyped: a Jewish "mother"; two somewhat neurotic, thin lipped, dare I write it, WASPs; a woman who converts to Judaism; the wife held in memory as an ideal partner. Of course, at least two of them are dead, so we see them through the eyes of their husbands and lovers. Still, the women seem more human, more purposeful, than the men they support.

The book becomes more intriguing about three quarters of the way through. The story quickens and develops into semi-tragedy. Then, it simply ends, with nothing resolved, little learned, and a dim future on the horizon. Frankly, if this wasn't a book group assignment, I would have quit after the first few chapters (or parts thereof).

After finishing the last pages, I checked out the reviews and the study questions. Got more of a chuckle from them then from the book. It's obvious to me that literary novels are not (cliche ahead) my cup of tea. Curses, I may have to quit the book group. I'll miss our delicious lunches.
Pad
This book is a very sad and funny depiction of a conundrum that people face. Some people have no idea who they are and don't know what to do with themselves. They enjoy freedom, but do not know how to interact with others in a meaningful way. Others have a very strong identity that frames their response to the human condition and gives them a medium by which they can connect with others. And while this is a blessing, this identity comes with historical baggage that can at times, prove lethal or at least a threat to their ability to flourish.
Zeus Wooden
This is in some ways a puzzling book. It has two primary aspects, an internal dialogue of several characters about the meaning and nature of being Jewish in England today where so much anti-semitism is extant and where so much negative feeling is evoked regarding the Zionist-Palestinian question, and a marvelous working of the connections between the three main charactters- two Jews (one self-hating) and their gentile friend who is fascinated by Jewishness. The title itself is a euphemism for "the Jewish Question." The interplay among the three and the development of these characters is worth the price of the book although perhaps not the Man Booker Prize which it received. The dialogue is clever, intellectual and quite thorough. I am not sure that aspect of the writing might be perceived as highly relevant by a non-Jew however. At the same time, there is an element of universality to it as well.

The book is extremely well-written. This talented author has tackled two subplots with skill and humor. The women in this book assume a more peripheral role in the lives of the characters but they are still essential to the story even though two of them are no longer present by the time the book unfolds. I did find the book easy to read and rather fast moving and I also found the discussions quite interesting but I would not call it a prize winner. For those interested in the depth of connections between people, it is a humorous and serious treatment of the subject. It is only toward the end of the book when the true power of the bond that links the main characters is finally and fully developed.
Siatanni
I admit that I have never read anything else by Jacobson and in fact I am glad I did read this. However, given the impressive list of books short-listed for the Man Booker this year, I was somewhat surprised that The Finkler Question emerged victorious.

There were several memorable scenes and quotes--some of which as a practiciting Jew hit home hard. The notion of having to openly express your condemnation of the Holocaust at every moment possible makes you step back and think for a moment-"Should I be more proactive in seeking out opportunities to do this?" The reader will likewis ebe amused with the almost constant virility of the geriatric cast of characters; giving hope to us "youngsters" that all is not lost as we age.

The Libor character was often frustrating with Treslove being more entertaining--likely the intent of the author. Overall a good read.
Sirara
Just a few words. Jacobson has managed to portray in a short, funny but poignant way dilemmas that a great many Jews and many Christians struggle with today. At the bottom of all the humor in the book is a deep moral urgency. I laughed at certain scenes in the book, but was deeply moved by many others and learned something -- by inference -- about the nature of conscience. It is an important book. I hope it continues to be widely read.
Brightcaster
I enjoyed this romp, despite a confusing and dismissive ending, and the depressing aspects of the story. It is stereotypical, with its emphasis on Ashkenazi culture, as opposed to a broader understanding.

Julien's desire to become a Jew is strictly cultural. It has nothing to do with religion. Tyler (a wonderfully evocative Gentile name) gets that gig with an Ashkenazi (Finkler) who couldn't care less about G-d.

What the novel does best is warn of the tragic return of European anti-Semitism, with a willful misunderstanding of the Israeli-Arab situation as its excuse. Even if, as Finkler says, it's not yet at the level of a Kristallnacht pogrom but only (though still tragically) affecting random individuals. Jacobson seems to be warning that, if the English Ashkenazim keep indulging themselves as they are (ASHamed Jews, for example) a pogrom would be the logical result.
The Finkler Question download epub
Author: Howard Jacobson
ISBN: 1408809109
Category: Literature & Fiction
Language: English
Publisher: Bloomsbury; Export and UK open market ed edition (November 1, 2010)
Pages: 320 pages