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ISBN 13: 9781608196111

The Finkler Question

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9781608196111: The Finkler Question

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 lost touch with each other, or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik.

Dining together one night at Sevcik's apartment—the two Jewish widowers and the unmarried Gentile, Treslove—the men share a sweetly painful evening, reminiscing on a time before they had loved and lost, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. But as Treslove makes his way home, he is attacked and mugged outside a violin dealer's window. Treslove is convinced the crime was a misdirected act of anti-Semitism, and in its aftermath, his whole sense of self will ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a funny, furious, unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity.

Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize.

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Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize

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 lost touch with each other, or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik.

Dining together one night at Sevcik's apartment—the two Jewish widowers and the unmarried Gentile, Treslove—the men share a sweetly painful evening, reminiscing on a time before they had loved and lost, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. But as Treslove makes his way home, he is attacked and mugged outside a violin dealer's window. Treslove is convinced the crime was a misdirected act of anti-Semitism, and in its aftermath, his whole sense of self will ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a funny, furious, unflinching novel of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and the wisdom and humanity of maturity.



Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Howard Jacobson

Q: Has your life changed (in ways good and bad) since you were awarded the Man Booker last Tuesday?

A: Yes. Apart from having had no sleep and having lost my voice giving interviews around the world, I can think of no bad way it has changed. The good is almost incalculable. In practical terms, The Finkler Question has been riding high in the bestselling charts around the English speaking world and will be translated in countries that have never before shown much interest in my work. But the greater good cannot be measured in lists or numbers. The Man Booker prize feels like a vindication of what I do and have done for a quarter of a century, casting a backward light on my earlier novels, introducing and part explaining them to readers who have not read me before.

I can best describe what I feel as a profound sensation of relief. From what? The usual: disappointment, frustration, bafflement, and the fear of being forever labelled 'an undervalued writer.' Whatever else, they cannot call me undervalued now.

Q: Your talents are largely comic and you've admitted to being ruffled by the lack of respect for comedy among the literary establishment. Do you think most novels lose their footing without a comedic hum? Which novelists do you most admire for their comedy?

A: Comic is the cruelest word. Yes, I aspire to be funny. Jonathan Safran Foer has just said of me to the L.A. Times that "I don't know a funnier writer alive," and I take that to be a huge compliment. But I don't think of myself as a writer of comic novels, for the reason that comic novel suggests lightness or frolicsomeness, a holiday from the serious, and that's not how I see what I do. That one can be funny and deadly serious doesn't need to be argued, but there are those who think they demean the solemn act of reading when they laugh - Rabelais called them the agelasts - whereas, of course, laughter can be as profound an act of the intelligence as any other response.

Ian McEwan once said he hated comic novels: it is like being wrestled to the ground and tickled. I know exactly what he means. But that's not what you get with me. With me it's like being wrestled to the ground and stabbed in the heart.

The other reason I'm not comfortable with the term comic novel is that it's redundant. The novel began in comedy (Rabelais, Cervantes) and continues to owe an obligation to it. A novel that doesn't make you laugh at some level, or that doesn't invigorate in a way we associate with comedy, or whose language isn't alive to play and paradox and contradiction, isn't doing its job.

For me, some of the novelists who do remember their obligations to comedy are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Dostoevsky, Joseph Conrad (think The Secret Agent), Henry James (funnier than he's often given credit for), Joseph Roth, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera (sometimes), Steve Tesich (I know of no more bitterly funny novel than Karoo), and, if I may return the compliment, Jonathan Safran Foer (Alexander Perchov, the sometime narrator of Everything Is Illuminated, is an inspired comic creation). This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Q: Where do you write? What does the space look and feel like?

A: I write on a tiny open mezzanine floor in the loft apartment I share with my wife in Soho, London. Steel bookshelves rise from the lower floor and in order to access the top shelves I have to risk my life climbing ladders. Light floods in through large windows and when I look out I see the city of London, St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin, and many of the great financial institutions. So the space I occupy is airy, and the world I look out upon is vast. This is the best space I have ever worked in, partly because of the natural light, but also because I don't feel locked away. I have only to raise my eyes to see the busy breathing world. Certainly I have never been so prolific, nor looked forward more to going to my desk.



About the Author:

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.

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Book Description Bloomsbury USA, 2010. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize "Like all of [Jacobson's] work, The Finkler Question has a kind of energy that you have to look at through your fingers, like an eclipse. As the brightness of his brilliance is hard to look at, so is the darkness of his humor. I don''t know a funnier writer alive." Jonathan Safran Foer "Like Phillip Roth, to whom he is fairly compared, Howard Jacobson is a magnificent prose stylist who is often at his most serious when he is being uproariously funny. This novel, which won the Man Booker Prize this year, is both a send-up of some very silly people, and an examination of Jewish identity in relation to rising tides of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I don''t think you have to be Jewish to find it funny, touching, and troubling." Jacob Weisberg, Slate, "Best Books of 2010" "Mr. Jacobson doesn't just summon [Philip] Roth; he summons Roth at Roth's best. This prizewinning book is a riotous morass of jokes and worries about Jewish identity, though it is by no means too myopic to be enjoyed by the wider world. It helps that Mr. Jacobson's comic sensibility suggests Woody Allen's, that his powers of cultural observation are so keen, and that influences as surprising as Lewis Carroll shape this book. Even in its darkest moments The Finkler Question offers many examples of. the most pernicious and authentic strain of Jewish humor: the kind that's so real it isn't funny at all." New York Times "The Finkler Question tackles an uncomfortable issue [Jewish identity] with satire that is so biting, so pointed, that it pulls you along for 300 pages and leaves a battlefield of sacred cows in its wake. Like all great Jewish art. it is Jacobson's use of the Jewish experience to explain the greater human one that sets it apart.It's a must read, no matter what your background." National Public Radio "Rare is a work of fiction that takes on the most controversial issues facing Jews so directlyand with enough humor, intelligence, and insightthat it changes a reader's mind or two. Be warned: The Finkler Question will probably distress you on its way to disarming you. Can we pay a novel any greater compliment?" Barnes & Noble Review "Let's hope that this recognition for The Finkler Question. gets Jacobson the recognition he deservesnot as a comic novelist, or a Jewish novelist, or a British Philip Rothbut on his own terms." New Yorker "Book Bench" " The Finkler Question , a clever, canny, textured, subtle, and humane novel exploring the friendship of three ageing male friends.is a work of greatness. Although The Finkler Question is by no means a straightforward comic novel, it once again demonstrates Jacobson's mastery of the form. Jacobson's capacity to explore the minutiae of the human condition while attending to the metaphysics of human existence is without contemporary peer." Daily Beast "A striking novel and a subtle one. The Finkler Question has all the qualities we expect from Mr. Jacobsonespecially a mordant wit, sometimes as acrid as it is exuberant. He has been called the English Philip Roth, and it is true that the two authors have in common a white-hot indignation, at anti-Semitism and much else. With The Finkler Question , Mr. Jacobson has managed to channel his themes and his characters'' emotions. with nuance, insight and, yes, laughter." Wall Street Journal "The acrobatic wit and biting humor Jacobson displayed in Kalooki Nights and The Mighty Walzer is honed sharp in The Finkler Question . Masterfully, Jacobson will bury a joke only to knock you out with a punch line 10 pages later. Though undeniably a comic novel, The Finkler Question . is a tragicomedy, centered on a wayward man whose quest for a self serves as a platform for Jacobson to explore the complexities of British Jewish identity.this is a book of big, rich ideas and, if those ideas sometimes take precedent over plot, it''s still a joy being on Treslove''s journey a. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_1608196119

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