Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Finkler Question
Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize, is a tough nut to crack. At the least, it took me several times of borrowing and re-borrowing from Taipei Public Library, with three different library cards and through the course of almost one year.

Under the facade of a comic novel, there lies a deeply tangled question about what it is like to be a Jew. This question is presented through multiple dimensions, constructed by different characters in the novel: Julian Treslove, a non-Jew but who also wants to be a Jew; Julian's old classmate, Sam Finkler, the first Jew he knows and who is part of the self-loathing ASHamed Jews; their former teacher Libor Sevcik, a Czech Jew and a contrast of Sam. They are joined by three female characters: Libor's beloved wife, Malkie, a pianist and died at age 80; Sam's wife, Tyler, who converted herself into a Jew and died young of cancer; and Hephzibah, Libor's niece and Julian's first relationship with a Jewish woman. The novel is of course not limited to these characters. It expands and covers many more aspects of human relationships, all of which are depicted by Mr. Jacobson's thought-provoking and quotable phrases.

I have to admit, however, that from time to time, I would feel a little nauseating while consuming so many paragraphs regarding anything Jewish. This kind of exhaustive analysis is probably hard to be found elsewhere.

A collection of book reviews:
Post a Comment