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The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
  

The Finkler Question

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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.

If you like Howard Jacobson you might also like to read books by Martin Amis, Michael Frayn and Kazuo Ishiguro.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. 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.
~ Anthony Lafferty

Synopsis

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

'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 and disappointed BBC worker, 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 Czechoslovakian 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 had 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 11:30pm, as Treslove hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country as he walks home, that he is attacked. After this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.

Reviews

'How is it possible to read Howard Jacobson and not lose oneself in admiration for the music of his language, the power of his characterisation and the penetration of his insight? ... The Finkler Question is further proof, if any was needed, of Jacobson's mastery of humour'
The Times

'Wonderful... Jacobson is seriously on form'
Evening Standard

'There are few writers who exhibit the same unawed respect for language or such a relentless commitment to re-examining even the most seemingly unobjectionable of received wisdoms'
Daily Telegraph

'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'
Observer

About the Author

Howard Jacobson

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd May 2011

Author

Howard Jacobson

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Publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Format

Paperback
384 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9781408809938

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