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Kalooki Nights

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  400 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic history titled "Five Thousand Years of Bitterness", recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Growing up, Max is surrounded by Jews, each with an entirely different and outspoken view on what it means to be Jewish. His mother, incessantly preoccupied with a card game called Kalooki, only begrudgi ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 22nd 2006 by Jonathan Cape Ltd (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,008)
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Greg
Since November first I've busied myself with writing a largely self-indulgent 'novel' in order to 'win' the National Novel Writing Month thing. Winning is just writing fifty thousand words, no one checks to see if those words mean anything when strung together nor does anyone read the words and see if they are words that make a pleasing string when read sequentially. I have finished my fifty something thousand words so now I can return to my former self-indulgent past time of writing reviews whe ...more
Peter
Jacobson's long meditation on post-holocaust Jewish identity.

I enjoyed the book's disarming approach to describing the intergenerational transformations of collective guilt and memory. Summarized in the way that the narrator, Max, is often thinking back to his uncle's refrain of "and for this the Nazis tried to exterminate us" while also remembering his father's response: "Since when did any Nazi try to exterminate you, Ike [Max's uncle:]? You personally?" Throughout the book, the narrator atte
...more
Jules
Excellent book! First I have read by Jacobson but it certainly won’t be the last.
The book runs in a very long narrative that crosses between past, present and future throughout and the main character Maxie grapples with ideas of what it is to be Jewish and equally of what it is to be human.
Jacobson obviously deals with the subject matter well and concepts of secular and Orthodox societies, intermarriage between faiths, Holocaust (and Holocaust denial) and some issues of the Israel question are
...more
Kent Winward
Kalooki Nights is the funniest Holocaust themed book I've ever read. I started out with four stars and the more I thought, the more I became convinced that this is an almost perfect book that will stay with me forever. Jacobson, the self-described love child of Jane Austen and Philip Roth, brings his Jewish and British humor to the story of Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist in England who publishes graphic novels like "5000 Years of Bitterness" and "No Bloody Wonder." The cast of characters is w ...more
Carolyn
After reading the not very positive New Yorker review of Howard Jacobson, I listened to the audiobook of Kalooki Nights. Did the reviewer actually read this book or just thumb through the beginning? I wouldn't say it is funny, ha-ha funny. It's funny in that sad sense of the surreal attempt to come to terms with the aftermath of the Holocaust. As an American Jew in the vanguard of the post-war baby boom (b. 1946) I had been disturbed by the unaswerable questions to my parents about how could the ...more
Milo King
Oy!While I'm waiting for my chance to read "The Finkler Question" - this year's Man Booker winner, I thought I would acquaint myself with some of Jacobson's back list. If I thought parts of "The Making of Henry" were a bit of a slog, putting up with the tiresome neuroses a character perhaps overly concerned with the "Jewish angle" of his every social encounter...then "Kalooki Nights" is a virtual gauntlet-run over-the-top OCD OBSESSING about any conceivable Jewish angle about absolutely EVERYTHI ...more
Anne
$ 1/2, actually, tho I hesitate to round up. Very interesting mordant story about a british guy who grows up in an orthodox jewish family, in London. Jacobson won the Booker, and all NPR could ask him was silly questions about what it is like to be Jewish in the UK. I guess you would have to read the book to find out. "Kalooki" is a card game favored by the narrator's mother--into which she dives upon the death of his raving athiest father, 2/3 of the way through the book. This is after a long f ...more
Phillip
This book is not for everybody as its humor is dark. Like other Jacobson books this one explores being Jewish in a non-Jewish world. Jacobson's obvious influences are Philip Roth and Mordecai Richler but he is different from either of them, perhaps because he is British. I recommend it to those of any ethnicity or religion who can laugh at the darkness we find within. For example anyone who read "Bonfires of the Vanities" and did not get that it is a very funny book should probably stay away fro ...more
Sharon
Jun 29, 2007 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANYONE who likes to laugh and liked good writing
THIS GUY IS SO UNDER APPRECIATED IN THE U.S.! He's what Philip Roth wishes he could be--some of the sharpest comic writing about the workingclass Jewish experience--though in this case in England, in a Manchester neighborhood. Run, don't walk to read this book. I'm making it my mission to get people to read it...
Jennifer
Nov 04, 2008 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: Tatyana
A bit difficult to get through all the Jewish-self-hate sometimes, but very well written. Learned British jews have many more complexes than American jews.
Mike
Howard Jacobson is a very bright guy. The complexity of his mind comes through in his writing though the writing itself isn't complex (aside from the amazing vocabulary which had me going to the dictionary every few pages.) He also sees the humor in life, often macabre. This book is all about what it means to be a post WW2 Jewish male told from a frame of reference of teenage Maxie in the 1950s in Manchester, and a 60ish Maxie in pursuit of a story which started in his youth. I'm not Jewish, and ...more
Eugenia
Excellent book--sophisticated, fluent and very touching.
cameron
I think Howard Jacobson can be a terrific writer. The Finkler Question,which won the Booker Prize is one of my favorites. Funny, hilarious, poignant and scary. When I got Kalooki Nights I was expected the same reaction. There is a plot here, somewhere, about growing up Jewish in America after the war and the complex relationships and characters acting as influential satellites to Max Glickman. The first half covers those childhood years and the friendship between Max and Manny, the orthodox boy ...more
Suzie
i did like this book, but again found it heavy going (like in 'the very model of a man'). some characterisation and his OTT caricatures went a little over my head at times (only reading reviews did i realise why characters had a certain history to them) and the anti semitism by the mother-in-law and wives was appalling (i know there was a reason for it). jacobson goes on with a theme: he mines a rich idea, but at the same time if you aren't with him on the joke or the caricaturisation of the ind ...more
Paola
Kalooki Nights é una lunga, intelligente, a tratti ironica, colta e profonda riflessione sulla storia dell'ebreitudine e sulle multiformi identità presenti in essa e sulle diverse modalità di esperirla.
In ogni modo la faccenda é problematica soprattutto se nella tua storia c'é un bel po' di pogrom, ghetti, shtetl, sinagoghe in rovina, inquisizioni, esecuzioni, massacri e quell'avvenimento indicibile che é stata la Shoah. "Non parli di gas a un ebreo se puoi farne a meno. E' una di quelle parole
...more
Eli
Howard Jacobson and my father are two years apart in age, grew up amidst the poor Jews in the same area of Manchester, and both received a decidedly secular (or at least, in the case of my dad, lazily secular) upbringing. I read 'The Mighty Waltzer' a long time ago because Waltzer was my grandmother's maiden name. I like recognising people and places in Jacobson's writing very much. The humour is familiar and the characters are pitch-perfect - excepting the goyisher women who Max shacks up with, ...more
Lisetta
Per alcuni scrittori la collera lo stesso loro sguardo che si posa sul mondo o lo ritrae. I grandi scrittori satirici vedono, raffigurano e aggrediscono la realt con gli occhi della collera, che la stravolgono, ma ne afferrano, grazie a questa deformazione, una verit abnorme

(Claudio Magris)



Jacobson Howard di professione un vignettista, che attraverso le sue caricature fa emergere le verit pi segrete e torbide degli esseri umani al di l della loro serena apparenza.



Attraverso questo libro egli
...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Does anyone really need another review of Kalooki Nights?
Come on, be frank to yourselves.
Should I start by mentioning the obvious remark that Howard Jacobson won the 2010 Booker Prize?
No. And, well, no.

Well, let's put it in this way.
I wanted to read this novel long before "The Finkler Question" got published and rewarded, but - obviously enough - my interest for Jacobson began after having read that notorious review by Jonathan Safran Foer on The New York Times. Many of you did the same, isn't
...more
David Colton
I generally get through books quickly but my reading of Kalooki Nights was a long and mostly pleasurable trip...I found it funny, morbid and mordant more often than not but for someone not a Jew, a fascinating insight into one man's experience of what being a Jew meant for him. As a gay man, I can relate to Max, the protagonist and voice of this book, as being the target of a collective disdain by the majority population is formative in ways the are pervasive and unique. I think Howard Jacobson ...more
Jason
A towering, rangy, horrific, moving book. The edition I read was too carelessly copy-edited for my taste -- I can understand how difficult it must be to ferret out the syntactical hiccups and typos in the prose of a writer with as circumlocutive a style as Jacobson's, but I fancy that if I had copy-edited the book, there would have been three or four errors, and none of them significant, as opposed to the two dozen or so herein -- but the brilliance of the novel makes it easier than it should be ...more
Aronz
This is one of the most powerful and enjoyable books that I have read. It is both funny, terribly serious, happy and sad. I am an orthodox Jew who grew up in London so I can most probably identify more easily with the book and have a better understanding of the background and issues raised.
Kalooki Nights deals with the holocaust from a Jewish perspective decades afterwards and the result is deeply disturbing. Jacobson deserves to be either locked up or receive a medal for having the introspectio
...more
Tristam Trondheim
There's a great book hidden in this unfortunately unedited volume.The main story about a Jewish family in 1950s England is masterfully told by the point of view of a witty teenager torn between his affiliation to the cool kids of tha area and his awkward friendship to a holocaust-obsessed boy with whom he hides in a raid shelter to write a history of the Jews called "Fove Thousand Years of Bitterness". A cast of memorable characters and the halfway revealed tragic end make this novel a great rea ...more
Kristine Elkins
I really enjoy Howard Jacobson. He writes very much from a Jewish perspective, which I enjoy as a converted Jew, and as an American Jew, as he is British. His style reminds me a little of John Irving, in that his stories are sweeping narratives of an entire life, from early childhood to late adulthood, with extremely complicated and intertwining multiple plotlines and themes. This book lost steam for me about two thirds through. The narrative is not linear, but jumps around in time a lot, and th ...more
Kathy McC
I was sure that I would love this book, but I didn't. I did enjoy it, however. The vocabulary is impressive, the description colorful ("He was a staccato man with a machine gun laugh", and the characters interesting. But there were a lot of asides and meanderings into topics that I didn't feel really mattered to the story line. It is a story of Jewish angst; the main character is trying to recapture his "roots".
"I had been born safely at a lucky time in an unthreatening part of the world to par
...more
Stefania
Il voto poteva tranquillamente essere brutto, o deleterio, insopportabile, eterno... mi sono limitata a così così perché forse sono io che non l'ho capito.
Forse, che è un forse come quello di Elio a Parco Sempione.
Comunque: mai come questa volta ho avuto l'impressione che un libro non finisse mai. Ogni 5 minuti mi chiedevo: "Ma non l'ho già letto questo????" "Ma non ne ha già parlato???".
L'autore è come l'assassino che torna sempre sul luogo del delitto.
E poi: Zoe, Chloe, l'umlaut! Almeno Sv
...more
Laurie
Wow. I thought this book was an amazing combination of interesting story, depth of character, surprising insight, non-linear storytelling, with lots and lots of very funny observations. The narrator, Max Glickman, is nothing like me, yet I was right there with him, even when he was having a hard time admitting and acknowledging his thoughts or his words or his actions. There was no one in the book who I recognized, although pieces of the characters were familiar to me. Like The Finkler Question, ...more
Alicia
I must be in the wrong frame of mind to read this book because I am giving up. The way this book was described to me was as "a British Philip Roth" which is pretty accurate. Unfortunately, I don't usually like Roth (The Plot Against America was the exception). This also has blurbs on the cover that talk about how funny this book is. I have to say, at no point during the 3/4 of the book that I read did I titter, chuckle or laugh. One other person is reading this one so maybe they will be able to ...more
Flik
My experience learning about Jewish culture is pretty much limited to high-school history: World War II, the Holocaust. And then fast-forward to Jewish folks I know present-day. What about all the time in the middle? Well this book gave me at least one perspective from England in the 60s, and boy was it painful. I had a really tough time with the constant self-disparagement theme - I just wanted to shake the narrator! I also found the Nazi porn bits extremely uncomfortable; consider yourself war ...more
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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 ...more
More about Howard Jacobson...
The Finkler Question J Zoo Time The Mighty Walzer The Act of Love

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