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The Finkler Question (Man Booker Prize)

A book by Howard Jacobson

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Gets better after you're done

  • Mar 4, 2011
  • by
I had to let this title stew for a few days after finishing it. While I had initially granted only four little green cubes, I've had to round up for how well these characters have stuck with me. Despite what has been a whirlwind of reading (by my standards) I keep thinking of Treslove in my downtime.

Most of the Tournament of Books titles for 2011 seem to have as the central challenge of the story a capital T tragedy. There must be rape, or extreme violence done to an innocent, something to jar and upset a suburban passive aesthetic. While I've been forced to accept that this means me, I think there comes with that the realization that there's a much greater and more relevant capital T tragedy of loss and disconnectedness and floundering for relevance that most of these novelists seem to be missing.

The Finkler Question is the first book I've encountered this year that addresses this challenge realistically and with some sympathy for its characters.

Tied for tops of the TOB-2011.

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About this book


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 lost touch with each other, or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik.

Dining together one night at Sevcik's apartment—the two Jewish widowers and the unmarried Gentile, Treslove—the men share a sweetly painful evening, reminiscing on a time before they had loved and lost, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. But as Treslove makes his way home, he is attacked and mugged outside a violin dealer's window. Treslove is convinced the crime was a misdirected act of anti-Semitism, and in its aftermath, his whole sense of self will ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a funny, furious, unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity.

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ISBN-10: 1608196119
ISBN-13: 978-1608196111
Author: Howard Jacobson
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
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