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The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
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The Finkler Question (edition 2011)

by Howard Jacobson

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1,9341223,534 (3.02)317
Member:Maddingreader
Title:The Finkler Question
Authors:Howard Jacobson
Info:Bloomsbury Paperbacks (2011), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:novel, 2012, unfinished

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The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

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English (118)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  English (124)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Two-thirds of the way through, I'm ditching this one. I just can't get interested, I find the main character maddeningly self-absorbed, and I think his identity crisis is both dilettantish and utterly implausible. But other people love this book! So what do I know? ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Sometimes a book I've bought will turn out to be a disappointment, and that's sad. I've tried to read this book, twice! Each time stopping at page 46! The blurb sounded good, I took note of one line out of those pages that I read, but sadly it failed to grab me. I don't think I've ever given a book a second chance before…. I really tried to like it. ( )
  Fliss88 | Oct 2, 2016 |
The Man Booker prize winner of 2010, The Finkler question is about three men and judaism. The main character, Julian Treslove is a sorry character, depressing and always feels he is one step away from total disaster. He is single, never really had a long term relationship and has no real goals or joy in his life. Sam Finkler is his friend from back when they went to school together, although they don’t really like each other. Finkler, who is Jewish, has just lost his wife. He is also a successful author of popular philosophical works, and appears on TV regularly. The third man is Libor Sevcik, 30 years older than Finkler and Treslove, also Jewish, and their former teacher. Libor has also just lost his wife after a love-filled marriage of fifty years.
In the book, Judaism and Jewish identity are the main subjects. Treslove, a non-Jew, is intrigued by Judaism and Jews. Finkler is trying his best to convince himself he is not like other Jews. Libor loses himself and grief and his thoughts about his faith change throughout the work. Meanwhile anti-Jewish sentiments are on the rise due to the situation in Israel/Palestine and they all have to deal with it one way or the other.
It took me a little bit to get into the story, mainly because Treslove is not a very like-able man (I found him whiny), and in the beginning the story jumps around with flashbacks and thoughts of the characters. But, when the lines of the story became clearer I was hooked and I loved the way the three characters react to the world around them and try to find their way and their identity. Tragic, but a very good story. ( )
  divinenanny | Sep 27, 2016 |
anche questo romanzo di Jacobson non mi ha deluso! ( )
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
Well it was a good read, but I can't say I can think of anything about it that would make me recommend it to anyone else! ( )
  GwenMcGinty | May 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Fans of Howard Jacobson might be alarmed to discover that the main character in his latest novel is a Gentile. As it turns out, though, they needn’t worry. Julian Treslove may not be Jewish, but in most other respects he’s a typical Jacobson protagonist: a middle-aged man much given to tears, self-interrogation, a sense of imminent doom, falling heavily in love and regarding his male friends as his male rivals. Above all, he’s obsessed with Jews and Jewishness.
 
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. Indeed, there's so much that is first rate in the manner of Jacobson's delivery that I could write all day on his deployment of language without once mentioning what the book is about. A single line describing the hero's father will have to do: "a man who stood so straight that he created a kind of architectural silence around himself".
 
The Finkler Question is very funny, utterly original, and addresses a topic of contemporary fascination. That is to say, it is about the anguish of middle-aged men, it consists of a series of loosely arranged episodes rich in argument and incident, and it examines how Jews now interrogate their relations with Israel.

It puts in play a gentile fascinated by Jews, and his two Jewish friends, one a Zionist comfortable in London, and the other an anti-Zionist comfortable in his outrage. They engage with each other in sometimes moving, sometimes bathetic ways, making their own journeys of self-understanding while they exasperatedly strive to educate each other.

The anti-Zionist Jew is called Finkler, hence the title of the novel. The "question" of "Finkler" is today's version of the "Jewish question". At the end of the 19th century, Jews asked of themselves, and were asked, "What is the future of the Jewish people?" At the end of the 20th century, this question had been reformulated as "What is the future of the Jewish state?" In Jacobson's book, Finkler dwells among those miscellaneous Jews who answer the question in versions of condemnation of Israel, Zionism, and Judaism.
 
The Finkler Question is a terrifying and ambitious novel, full of dangerous shallows and dark, deep water. It takes in the mysteries of male friendship, the relentlessness of grief and the lure of emotional parasitism. In its insistent interrogation of Jewishness – from the exploration of the relationship between the perpetrators of violence and hatred and their victims, to the idea of the individual at once in opposition to and in love with his or her culture – it is by turns breezily open and thought-provokingly opaque, and consistently wrong-foots the reader. For Treslove, the committed shape-shifter with little really at stake, such demands unsurprisingly prove rather too much. "Would he ever get to the bottom," he wonders, "of the things Finklers did and didn't do?"
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Howard Jacobsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lange, Barbara deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rey, Santiago delTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of three dear friends, great givers of laughter

Terry Collits (1940-2009)

Tony Errington (1944-2009)

Graham Rees (1944-2009)

Who now will set the table on a roar?

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He should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one.
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Book 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.
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Julian Treslove, a radio producer, and Samuel Finkler, a Jewish philosopher, have been friends since childhood and, as they enter middle age, they reminisce over their struggles with self-identity, anti-Semitism, women, love, and the past.

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