The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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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 Sevick, a Czechoslovakian 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 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.

The Finkler Question is a scorching story of exclusion and belonging, justice and love, aging, wisdom and humanity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, c2010
ISBN: 9781608196111
Branch Call Number: JACO
Characteristics: 307 p. ; 21 cm

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rebmartin31
Jun 01, 2016

I may not be an older Jewish male, so I don't have an in to a lot of the jokes and discussion in The Finkler Question, but that didn't stop me at all from loving this book.

A book with a big heart, big questions of identity and culture, and good-natured/self-depricating humor for all to enjoy.

h
HollyDavis022
Mar 11, 2016

listed an audiobook and laughed out loud throughout.

g
GLNovak
May 08, 2015

We are told early in the book that the 'Finkler question' is a euphemism for 'Jewish question', and I should have paid attention. I found reading this to be a slog. Very little happens but we do get a lot of ruminating about what it means to be Jewish, to not be Jewish, to wish to be Jewish. I now know that it means pretty much the same as being Catholic, not being Catholic, wishing to be Catholic. Our lives revolve around choices and this book in the broad sense, for me, was about choices - what they are, why we make them, what are the consequences of them. Don't read this if you are looking for a story, but try it if you like a self examination.

v
velvetcactus
Dec 27, 2014

@rebecculous

Touché

b
BarneyJr
Oct 16, 2014

I really enjoyed "The Finkler Question." I thought it was brilliant. I was happy to get perspective on Jewishness in London. I'm not surprised the humor is missed or found unfunny because it can be subtle but there's a line of absurdity that runs through it that is hilarious like life. It's a more thoughtful(?) form of humor or humour but "Pineapple Express" or "I Hope They Sell Beer in Hell" it's not.

r
rebecculous
Apr 16, 2014

I find that in this day and age the general level of literacy is such that many books which I find brilliant, humorous and insightful are found to be "pedantic", "a slog", "literary dribble(sic)", etc...by others.

m
MsStCyr
Dec 09, 2012

Oh my I am surprised to read these negative comments about The Finkler Question :o. I think Howard Jacobson is nothing short of a poetic and comedic genius! I laughed and was inspired by his magnificent use of language on every page.

u
uncommonreader
Aug 02, 2012

It is difficult to know how this book won the 2010 Booker. It is touted as being humourous. It is not.

Wow. Howard Jacobson won the £50,000 (US$78,989) Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Finkler Question....seriously?!!! Seriously? Wow. The Finkler Question was pedantic, monotone, depressing drivel on being Jewish....enough already! What a waste of ink, money and my time. One sorry, boring excuse for a book. Very, very disappointing.

e
educated
Nov 21, 2011

zzzzz....zzzzzz..umm..what? oh just more conversation about being Jewish? Yeah Howard, you wrote that 30 pages ago and again 40 pages ago...literary dribble...a great sleep aid though.

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