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The Finkler Question


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The Sunday Times bestseller (#2) The New York Times bestseller (#9) WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2010

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.

'How is it possible to read Howard Jacobson and not lose oneself in admiration for the music of his language, the power of his characterisation and the penetration of his insight? ... The Finkler Question is further proof, if any was needed, of Jacobson's mastery of humour' The Times Wonderful ... Jacobson is seriously on form' Evening Standard 'There are few writers who exhibit the same unawed respect for language or such a relentless commitment to re-examining even the most seemingly unobjectionable of received wisdoms' Daily Telegraph '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' Observer

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