Book Review: The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question, Howard Jacobson

In 2014, Howard Jacobson once again made the shortlist for the 2014 Booker Prize for his novel, J. (The prize went to Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.)

I haven’t read J, so herewith a review of Jacobson’s The Finkler Question, winner of the 2010 Man Booker.

The novel is a mordantly funny third-person narrative centering on the self-doubting Julian Tredlove and his complicated relationship with Samuel Finkler, a successful philosopher and media personality.

The inciting incident is a mugging that sets Tredlove on a quest to find out not only who mugged him, but also who he is. The novel uses this story of a feckless man in mid-life crisis to examine how European culture views Jews.

It’s tricky to pull off a feckless man in mid-life crisis (and God knows it’s been tried repeatedly), but Jacobson’s humor¬†brings the reader through what might otherwise be a difficult read.

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