The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question 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

  • Title: The Finkler Question
  • Author: Howard Jacobson
  • ISBN: 9781408808870
  • Page: 223
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 Sevcik, a Czechoslovakian always concerned wiJulian 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 Sevcik, a Czechoslovakian always 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.

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    About "Howard Jacobson"

    1. Howard Jacobson

      Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, England, and educated at Cambridge His many novels include The Mighty Walzer winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize , Who s Sorry Now and Kalooki Nights both longlisted for the Man Booker Prize , and, most recently, The Act of Love Jacobson is also a respected critic and broadcaster, and writes a weekly column for the Independent He lives in London.Profile of Howard Jacobson in The New York Times The book s appeal to Jewish readers is obvious, but like all great Jewish art the paintings of Marc Chagall, the books of Saul Bellow, the films of Woody Allen it is Jacobson s use of the Jewish experience to explain the greater human one that sets it apart Who among us is so certain of our identity Who hasn t been asked, What s your background and hesitated, even for a split second, to answer their inquisitor Howard Jacobson s The Finkler Question forces us to ask that of ourselves, and that s why it s a must read, no matter what your background David Sax, NPR.


    1. According to the reviews on the back cover, The Finkler Question is hilarious. The front cover proclaims that it won the 2010 Man Booker Prize. A reviewer from the London Times asks "How is it possible to read Howard Jacobson and not lose oneself in admiration for the music of his language, the power of his characterization and the penetration of this insight?"I dunno how exactly, but I did not lose myself in admiration of Jacobson while reading The Finkler Question.Two friends of Julian Treslov [...]

    2. I've always been suspicious of the Booker Prize: a solid, stick-in-the-mud reward to literary doggedness and middlebrow worthiness that guarantees reading matter for the leafy home counties if nothing else. As a Nobel Prize lite it tends to award writers for what they mean rather than what they write. Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question has a central question that falls perfectly in the Booker court: what is Jewishness? And what does it mean to be Jewish in England today? It's a question that [...]

    3. I don't like the idea that literature is written "for" or "not for" any people. Sure, you might be able to appreciate War and Peace better if you are a member of the 19th century Russian intelligentsia. But you're a fool if you let a smaller share of comparative appreciation get in your way. I mean, I can't let the fact that I'm middle class and white distract me from the fact that I enjoy listening to Public Enemy. I'm not comfortable with the idea that anything is beyond my empathy. What I'm s [...]

    4. I kept wanting to quit this unlikeable cramped book, but I didn't, because I kept waiting to see what the Booker Prize committee saw in it. I never did. I'm not sure if this book's unpleasantness says anything valid about British society or British Jewry, but I tend to think the solipsistic paranoia is all the author's. None of the characters are more than a sketched idea, lacking realistic grounding. For example, despite the all too minutely detailed fear of anti-Jewish violence in 21st century [...]

    5. I had no clue what I was signing up for when I began reading this. The author began by making a very big deal about the pain of being a Jew in the modern world and ended the book with an impassioned plea to see Jews for what they really are, half right and half wronged, like the rest of us. I appreciate that unambiguously. Nobody should be singled out for persecution, I agree. What I don't appreciate is being bombarded with the words 'Jew', 'Ju', 'Julian' with freakish consistency on every page. [...]

    6. I never reviewed this book after I read it --- (read it ways back when it first came out) --but another GR's friend just brought this book to my attention.I never understood why it won the Man Booker prize. Set in London.Jewish friends discuss the state of Israel - life -and love --anti-Semitism in England -the meaning of Judaism (religion or philosophy)c.Some things were funny -but overall things become tedious and even offensive very quickly. I never recommend this book!

    7. Man Booker Prize Winner for 2010.Look at the back of the book. Everyone (other writers, newspapers etc) say how wonderful this book is. How he is the funniest writer alive. Blah Blah Blah.Maybe I am not the demographic for a Jewish crisis of existence book but it did not make me laugh once, nothing really happended and it was as dull as dish water.Repition of themes, events, sayings, jokes, characteristics cannot be expected to carry a novel over 370 pages. And I imagine that the J E and W keys [...]

    8. I found this book laborious and slow moving. The parameters were too constrained to comfortably contain Julian, the main character's obsession with Jews and his wishful wondering if, by any quirk of fate, he could have something in his ancestry that would allow him to lay claim to being partly Jewish. This tiresome obsession was sparked by an incident in which he was mugged by someone who, he believed, mistook him for a Jew. From then on Julian's thoughts are dominated by ways of being Jewish. H [...]

    9. Really really really great. hard to put down. touching and funny. unexpectedly challenging. presents a difficult topic in a hitting and fearless fashion. empowered me with a nuanced perspective and vocabulary with which to challenge prevailing or simplistic notions of the Jewish identity. every time I put it down I had a strange yearning to call my grandmother, to remember and to be close.

    10. What to make of this? It was a Booker winner in 2010. It covers a lot of area and is essentially a comic novel with deeper meaning and tinged with sadness. There are three main protagonists; Sam Finkler (a journalist and TV pundit), Julian Treslove, an old school friend and former BBC employee (now Brad Pitt lookalike) and Libor Sevcik; a former teacher and friend. Finkler and Treslove are about 50; Finkler and Sevcik are Jewish. Treslove thinks of all Jews as Finklers, hence the title. The book [...]

    11. This is a great book. Don't let the philistines of this pitiful site ruin it for you. I picked it up because I hold Wodehouse in such esteem for his comedic novels (not that I was expecting Wodehouse here, he just introduced me to this category of writing). I had to read something more contemporary and since this won the booker prize I just bought it.The first thing I must elucidate is that Finkler and the others seem to be more concerned with melancholic satire and the humour may not be too ama [...]

    12. I am still to read Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha but, to date, I've read more than half of the Man Booker winning novels. None of those made me laugh out loud as much as this book, Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question. Twice at least not counting the grins and the smiles that came in between.Funny and refreshing. Most of the half of those books that I've read were downright depressing including the last winner, Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending. So, this book by Jacobson that won in 2 [...]

    13. Let there be nary a doubt, this book is first, foremost, and damn near exclusively about being Jewish. Jewish in England, Jewish in culture, Jewish in language, Jewish in world affairs, Jewish against Israel, Jewish for Israel, Jewish in humor, Jewish in intellect, Jewish in guilt, Jewish in pleasures, Jewish in the head, Jewish in the schlang, Jewish in food, Jewish in ceremony, Jewish as chosen, Jewish as persecuted, and Jewish in just about any other way you can imagine, stereotyped or otherw [...]

    14. This is perhaps the funniest book I've ever read; it's also seriously brilliant. This is a novel that deserved to win the Booker prize. It's about anti-semitism in particular, but more generally about other-ness and self, about hatred, jealousy and love. The first 2/3 is laugh out loud funny, so much so that I attracted attention from my kids (what's so funny, Mom?), my h (who took the kobo from me to read a passage) and strangers who looked around to see the hilarity for themselves (in the girl [...]

    15. Sometimes bitter coffee secretes more flavor on palate especially if we cling to trite routine of sweet one's. Why there is so much problem in being a loser ? or is it uncoolness to be the secondary character in life. Aren't we confused or perplexed in any stage of life ?Is that life is always taut. Or is it discursive ?And this is what this book was. I loved it book for three reasons : (1) The honeylike Jewishness squeezing from it.(2) Hephzibah - The most catchy name I ever heard in life.(3) T [...]

    16. 4.25 stars.This was a bit of a difficult book to like, considering its topic. It took me a while to get adjusted. Starting with a 1 or 2-stars, I had to go on until it became better, until I had read nearly a third of the book.The entire book is narrated using characters' discussions and reminiscences, largely dealing with the Jewish world in general, and in context with its relations to Gentiles; or if one wants to take it, vice-versa, the Gentile world in general, in context with its relations [...]

    17. my 2nd booker prize winner (2010) in about as many days. winning has caused quite a bit a controversy and even before winning lots of ink spilled debating whether this was any good and antisemitism in UK, and self-anti-semitism (a la tony judt The Memory Chalet ) and zionoism/israeliism (a la grossman To the End of the Land ) and racism in general in uk especially (a la malkani Londonstani and barnes Arthur & George ) and passing and friendship and sex and polemics and much more. fun how fic [...]

    18. Sometimes when I pick up a book I wonder who the author is trying to imitate. In the case of Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, I suspected he took more than a little inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a whole bunch more from Joseph Heller. Sadly, every comparable quality I connected with those mammoths of 20th-century literature fell completely flat. At times, it was difficult to tell if the faux sincerity was Jacobson's attempt to be earnest or sardonic, and the outright attempts [...]

    19. Julian Treslove is a 49 year old Gentile living in present day London whose life has been a series of disappointments: he has movie star good looks but can't seem to sustain a relationship with a woman for more than a few months; he was let go from his production job at the BBC for his overly morbid programs on Radio 3, a station known for its solemnity; and he has fathered two boys, who ridicule and despise him. Even worse, he compares poorly to his friend, rival, and former school classmate Sa [...]

    20. Why did this book win a prize? Why didn't I get it? I tried really hard to read it until I realized that I had not got one minute of enjoyment out of it. So why read it? Why didn't I like it: there was a lack of story; the characters were unappealing and two-dimensional - do people like this really exist and if so, why write about them? The reviews said it was extremely funny, but I didn't laugh or smile once. Things that seemed like they might be there to be funny, I found depressing and over-o [...]

    21. As my five stars say, "it was amazing"!!Funny. Scathing. Humourous. Satiric. Trivial. Serious. 'Jocoserious'. Mad. Repetitive. Circular. Sensible. Nonsensical. Touching.The Finkler Question has something to do with Jewishness, something to do with Jewish people, nothing to do with 'Issrrae', something to do with the image of Israel, and everything to do with human nature.Go read it!!!

    22. Howard Jacobson's comedy about anti-Semitism, "The Finkler Question," won the $79,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction in London Tuesday, beating "Parrot & Olivier in America," by two-time winner Peter Carey, and Emma Donoghue's popular "Room." Jacobson, 68, who remains far better known in his native England than in this country, has been a prolific writer of comic novels, mostly about Jews and Jewish identity, since 1983. Several have landed on the Booker long list.That Jacobson could write a c [...]

    23. Although it was a slow read in comparison to many of the books I've raced through over the last few months (it took me a whole two weeks to finish it - shock horror!), I started off really enjoying this. I found the characters interesting, amusing, and likeable despite themselves - Julian Treslove is in many ways a horrible person (astoundingly selfish and self-involved, to the point of not caring about or even noticing his own sons), yet he's also hilariously funny, and quite loveable simply be [...]

    24. What is it like to be a Jew in modern day England in the question that this book covers. Told through the eyes, behavior, and words of three men it explores the concept of what makes a Jewish person a Jew. It was oftentimes quite funny although the topic one of seriousness. Julian, the Jewish wannabee, wanders around the story looking for his Jewishness. He is pretty much of a loser so one thinks that through his fervor for his Jewishness he will become a better person. He is convinced that he h [...]

    25. I think this is a book about trying to belong to a cultural construct and perhaps about belonging to cultural construct on ones own terms. The critics thought the book succeeded brilliantly, an enthusiasm I struggled to share completely,Libor, an old Jewish widower, the eponymous Finkler also a Jewish widower but younger and angrier, and finally their gentile sad sack friend Treslove all orbit around what they are and how they define themselves. For Libor it's How to continue living beyond the d [...]

    26. The 2010 Man Booker Prize winner and after 100 pages, I'm wondering if I really need to keep reading. It's been described as a comedy. far, nothing strikes me as funny, or even mildly amusing. The main character has an obsession (concerning he's not Jewish) with Jewishness, what it is, what it isn't. Fine, I'm interested, too. The problem seems to be the limited parameters that the character explores this, the limited characters of just three men (none likable), and no plot. Maybe it will turn a [...]

    27. When I started the Finkler Question, I had images of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen floating in my head. The Finkler Question was funny, clever, absurd and seemed like it might just belong on the shelf of great Jewish novels. Unfortunately, this momentum didn't continue. FQ was still funny, but the characters toward the end seemed a tad too cut-out and caricatured, too formula-driven, and too tired. It was looking for Herzog, but in the end found a book that could have been [...]

    28. A novel that does not disguise that it wants to explore what it means to be a Jew today.The narrator Treslove is a Gentile but feels that he is more Jewish than his two buddies, Finkler and Libor, taking on a Jewish girlfriend, wallowing in his guilt and shame, learning Yiddish and even willing to submit to circumcision. His two Jewish friends however feel that “a minor indiscretion, or two, does not matter,” and shrug off Treslove, saying that he can never become one of them – there is mo [...]

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