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The Finkler Question


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Frequently compared with Philip Roth, Howard Jacobson is one of the greatest British novelists alive When Kalooki Nights was first published A.C. Grayling wrote in The Times: 'How is one to convey news of the arrival of a genius?'. The Independent called it 'a novel of genius', while the Telegraph said 'it stands toe-to-toe with the greats'.

About the Author

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.


In tribute to his childhood pal, Samuel Finkler, Julian Treslove, a former BBC arts producer, has always privately thought of Jews as Finklers. Now in late middle age, Treslove and Finkler have remained friends and have also stayed close to their former history teacher and bon vivant, the nonagenarian Libor Sevick, another Jew. After a night out with his two old friends, Treslove is mugged by a female assailant who says something to him that sounds at first like, "Your jewels," but that he later interprets to be, "You Jew." This life-defining moment sparks an identity crisis, one in which Treslove, who has always been the envious outsider, comes to believe he might actually be Jewish. At the same time, Finkler, a widely regarded and well-known philosopher, joins the ranks of a group called "ASHamed," Jews who distance themselves from the Israeli cause in sympathy for the Palestinians. Just as an outbreak of violent anti-Semitic incidents causes Finkler to rethink his alliance with ASHamed, Treslove falls in love with Sevick's niece and becomes deeply immersed in Jewish studies. Verdict The novel's underlying question is: Can you choose to be Jewish or can you choose not to be? This Man Booker Prize nominee is as entertaining as it is provocative and will be essential reading for thoughtful readers on either side of the debate. Highly recommended.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

'Our funniest living writer ... No writer cherishes the language more' Allison Pearson, Telegraph 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 'Jacobson is frequently labelled the British Philip Roth: on this form, Roth should be known as the American Howard Jacobson' Guardian

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