The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question

Book rating: 03 Hardback

By (author) Howard Jacobson

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 232mm x 34mm | 581g
  • Publication date: 2 August 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408808870
  • ISBN 13: 9781408808870
  • Sales rank: 3,998

Product description

'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.

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Author information

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) and, most recently, the highly acclaimed The Act of Love. Howard Jacobson lives in London.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 20 Nov 2013 3

The Finkler Question is the fourteenth book by Howard Jacobson, and winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize. There are three main characters: Julian Treslove, who wants to be a Jew; Sam Finkler, a Jew who is ashamed of Jews; and Libor Sevcik, a Czech Jew who is grieving the loss of his wife. This unlikely trio have known one another for many years, and in the first part, each looks back on events in their lives. The second part concerns the events after Julian is mugged, he believes, for being a Jew, and introduces a new love interest for him, a Jewess names Hephzibah, someone he feels is his destiny. This novel is very slow-moving, there is very little in the way of plot and while some of the dialogue is clever, amusing or even thought-provoking, many of the characters are difficult to relate to. Perhaps to fully appreciate this book, one would need to be a Jewish intellectual, preferably a British one. Lots of Jewish angst, talk of foreskins, anti-Semitic violence and Holocaust denial. This Man Booker Prizewinner fails to impress.

Review quote

'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:'It is an almost frighteningly brilliant achievement. Why did the Booker judges not recognise it? Scaredy-cats' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 'Naked, haunting, unflinching. Its account of sexual obsession is frightening, painful and finally very moving. A tour de force' Harold Pinter