#41 – The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson

‘He should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one…’

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 quite lost touch with each other – or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick, a Czech 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 have 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 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best. – Publishers Website

I was looking forward to this book, when I started reading it, was a whole other story.  It does sound promising from the book jacket/description.

I stopped reading it at about 100 pages in.  I could not stand one of the characters (Treslove) whining throughout the whole entire book.  The 2 other men are talking about their recently deceased wives, while the Treslove was talking how unlucky in love he has been in…never married, etc., when all of a sudden he is  walking home and stops in front of the old music store where he is robbed by a woman.

There was an interesting thread of both of the men being jewish, what it meant to them, whether it mattered in their lives.  Treslove (the whiner) has always wanted to be Jewish.  He honestly thinks that if he was born Jewish, he would have fared better in live and love.  I did understand the plot of the book, it was Treslove’s incessant whining and complaining that turned me off the book.

From what I understand about the book and consensus is that you either loved it or hated it.  Not a clear definitive between the two.

The Finkler Question won the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.


3 thoughts on “#41 – The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson

  1. Hmmm…I now wished that I had read your review before I picked up a copy of this book at a used book sale yesterday. Maybe I’ll have more luck. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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