Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 3 March 2011.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2010.
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.
'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 Sevick, 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.
Julian Treslove is not a Jew; some of his best friends, including Sam Finkler and Libor Sevcick, are. One night on his way home from having dinner with his friends Treslove is mugged and thinks that he has been mistaken for one of them, in other words, for a Jew. This gets him thinking about what makes a Jew and that maybe he really is one; that there is some secret within his family denying him his own ethnicity. He begins to analyse ‘Jewishness’, looking at everything from circumcision to afternoon tea, which is ‘like an English tea, only there’s twice as much of it’. Julian’s journey of self-discovery leads us on an entertaining trail of love and loss, of remembrance and reminiscence, of betrayal and friendship. Beautifully observed, wonderfully written and full of dark humour this is Jacobsen at his best, a deserving winner of this year’s Booker Prize.
'A real giant. A great, great writer'
Jonathan Safran Foer
'The Finkler Question is wonderful. A blistering portrayal of a funny man who at last confronts the darkness of the world'
Beryl Bainbridge Praise for The Act of Love:
'Naked, haunting, unflinching. Its account of sexual obsession is frightening, painful and finally very moving. A tour de force'
Publication date: 02/08/2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
|Publication date:||2nd August 2010|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), the highly acclaimed The Act of Love, the 2010 Man Booker Prize-winning, The Finkler Question and, most recently, Zoo Time. Howard Jacobson lives in Soho, London.More About Howard Jacobson