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The Finkler Question

2.79  ·  Rating details ·  14,067 ratings  ·  2,097 reviews
Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular and disappointed BBC worker, 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 Sevcik, a Czechoslovakian always more concerned wi ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by Bloomsbury (first published 2010)
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Abhishek Good that you got it's sense of humour, most of it at the main characters. I initially had a bit of difficulty with things Jewish, but a lot of it can…moreGood that you got it's sense of humour, most of it at the main characters. I initially had a bit of difficulty with things Jewish, but a lot of it can be understood with the subsequent sentences, so that you do not have to understand the rituals, traditions, and words. A momentary pause to search it up on Google might help the more curious and interested mind. Happy Reading! (less)

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According to the reviews on the back cover, The Finkler Question is hilarious. The front cover proclaims that it won the 2010 Man Booker Prize. A reviewer from the London Times asks "How is it possible to read Howard Jacobson and not lose oneself in admiration for the music of his language, the power of his characterization and the penetration of this insight?"

I dunno how exactly, but I did not lose myself in admiration of Jacobson while reading The Finkler Question.

Two friends of Julian Treslov
May 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I've always been suspicious of the Booker Prize: a solid, stick-in-the-mud reward to literary doggedness and middlebrow worthiness that guarantees reading matter for the leafy home counties if nothing else. As a Nobel Prize lite it tends to award writers for what they mean rather than what they write.

Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question has a central question that falls perfectly in the Booker court: what is Jewishness? And what does it mean to be Jewish in England today? It's a question that
A.J. Howard
I don't like the idea that literature is written "for" or "not for" any people. Sure, you might be able to appreciate War and Peace better if you are a member of the 19th century Russian intelligentsia. But you're a fool if you let a smaller share of comparative appreciation get in your way. I mean, I can't let the fact that I'm middle class and white distract me from the fact that I enjoy listening to Public Enemy. I'm not comfortable with the idea that anything is beyond my empathy. What I'm s ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
I kept wanting to quit this unlikeable cramped book, but I didn't, because I kept waiting to see what the Booker Prize committee saw in it. I never did.

I'm not sure if this book's unpleasantness says anything valid about British society or British Jewry, but I tend to think the solipsistic paranoia is all the author's. None of the characters are more than a sketched idea, lacking realistic grounding. For example, despite the all too minutely detailed fear of anti-Jewish violence in 21st century
Rajat Ubhaykar
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: british, comedy
I had no clue what I was signing up for when I began reading this. The author began by making a very big deal about the pain of being a Jew in the modern world and ended the book with an impassioned plea to see Jews for what they really are, half right and half wronged, like the rest of us. I appreciate that unambiguously. Nobody should be singled out for persecution, I agree. What I don't appreciate is being bombarded with the words 'Jew', 'Ju', 'Julian' with freakish consistency on every page. ...more
Paul Sánchez Keighley
The Holocaust had become negotiable. She had recently run into her ex-husband and had listened to him spin a hellish tale about his sleeping with a Holocaust denier and negotiating numbers in return for favours. He’d come down a million if she’d do this to him, but would want to put a million back in return for doing that to her.

You know what they say about black humour: it’s like a pair of legs. Some people don’t have it. The humour in this book is as dark and pungent as the mold you’d find
Elyse  Walters
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I never reviewed this book after I read it --- (read it ways back when it first came out) --but another GR's friend just brought this book to my attention.
I never understood why it won the Man Booker prize.

Set in London....
Jewish friends discuss the state of Israel - life -and love --anti-Semitism in England -the meaning of Judaism (religion or philosophy)...etc.

Some things were funny -but overall things become tedious and even offensive very quickly.

I never recommend this book!

Ainsley kerr
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really really really great. hard to put down. touching and funny. unexpectedly challenging. presents a difficult topic in a hitting and fearless fashion. empowered me with a nuanced perspective and vocabulary with which to challenge prevailing or simplistic notions of the Jewish identity. every time I put it down I had a strange yearning to call my grandmother, to remember and to be close.
Lilian Nattel
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps the funniest book I've ever read; it's also seriously brilliant. This is a novel that deserved to win the Booker prize.

It's about anti-semitism in particular, but more generally about other-ness and self, about hatred, jealousy and love. The first 2/3 is laugh out loud funny, so much so that I attracted attention from my kids (what's so funny, Mom?), my h (who took the kobo from me to read a passage) and strangers who looked around to see the hilarity for themselves (in the girl
Ian Mapp
Aug 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Man Booker Prize Winner for 2010.

Look at the back of the book. Everyone (other writers, newspapers etc) say how wonderful this book is. How he is the funniest writer alive. Blah Blah Blah.

Maybe I am not the demographic for a Jewish crisis of existence book but it did not make me laugh once, nothing really happended and it was as dull as dish water.

Repition of themes, events, sayings, jokes, characteristics cannot be expected to carry a novel over 370 pages. And I imagine that the J E and W keys
Milky Cosmos
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. Don't let the philistines of this pitiful site ruin it for you. I picked it up because I hold Wodehouse in such esteem for his comedic novels (not that I was expecting Wodehouse here, he just introduced me to this category of writing). I had to read something more contemporary and since this won the booker prize I just bought it.

The first thing I must elucidate is that Finkler and the others seem to be more concerned with melancholic satire and the humour may not be too ama
Nov 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I found this book laborious and slow moving. The parameters were too constrained to comfortably contain Julian, the main character's obsession with Jews and his wishful wondering if, by any quirk of fate, he could have something in his ancestry that would allow him to lay claim to being partly Jewish.

This tiresome obsession was sparked by an incident in which he was mugged by someone who, he believed, mistook him for a Jew. From then on Julian's thoughts are dominated by ways of being Jewish. H
Sep 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I don't even have much to say about this book. I'm just kind of confused by it? 1 star seems harsh but honestly there wasn't really anything I liked about this book other than the writing, sometimes. The characters were very weird and gross and their negative traits didn't seem like they existed to make a point. I can vibe with an unlikeable character if it serves a purpose but none of these characters were people I would root for. Overall just baffled that this won the Man Booker Prize. Would n ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comic-novels
What to make of this? It was a Booker winner in 2010. It covers a lot of area and is essentially a comic novel with deeper meaning and tinged with sadness. There are three main protagonists; Sam Finkler (a journalist and TV pundit), Julian Treslove, an old school friend and former BBC employee (now Brad Pitt lookalike) and Libor Sevcik; a former teacher and friend. Finkler and Treslove are about 50; Finkler and Sevcik are Jewish. Treslove thinks of all Jews as Finklers, hence the title.
The book
Patricia Williams
I really enjoyed this book. It's very different but very interesting. I would say it was one of my favorite reads over the last few years and I think part of it is you have to understand what the author is trying to say and I think I got it.
Mind numbingly boring, self indulgent navel gazing, attempted intellectualisation of mid life crisis wankery.
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I am still to read Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha but, to date, I've read more than half of the Man Booker winning novels. None of those made me laugh out loud as much as this book, Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question. Twice at least not counting the grins and the smiles that came in between.

Funny and refreshing. Most of the half of those books that I've read were downright depressing including the last winner, Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending. So, this book by Jacobson that won in 2
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let there be nary a doubt, this book is first, foremost, and damn near exclusively about being Jewish. Jewish in England, Jewish in culture, Jewish in language, Jewish in world affairs, Jewish against Israel, Jewish for Israel, Jewish in humor, Jewish in intellect, Jewish in guilt, Jewish in pleasures, Jewish in the head, Jewish in the schlang, Jewish in food, Jewish in ceremony, Jewish as chosen, Jewish as persecuted, and Jewish in just about any other way you can imagine, stereotyped or otherw ...more
Ravi Gangwani
Sometimes bitter coffee secretes more flavor on palate especially if we cling to trite routine of sweet one's.
Why there is so much problem in being a loser ? or is it uncoolness to be the secondary character in life. Aren't we confused or perplexed in any stage of life ?
Is that life is always taut. Or is it discursive ?

And this is what this book was.

I loved it book for three reasons :
(1) The honeylike Jewishness squeezing from it.
(2) Hephzibah - The most catchy name I ever heard in life.
(3) T
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
my 2nd booker prize winner (2010) in about as many days. winning has caused quite a bit a controversy and even before winning lots of ink spilled debating whether this was any good and antisemitism in UK, and self-anti-semitism (a la tony judt The Memory Chalet ) and zionoism/israeliism (a la grossman To the End of the Land ) and racism in general in uk especially (a la malkani Londonstani and barnes Arthur & George ) and passing and friendship and sex and polemics and much more. fun how fiction ...more
Simon Fay
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes when I pick up a book I wonder who the author is trying to imitate. In the case of Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question, I suspected he took more than a little inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a whole bunch more from Joseph Heller. Sadly, every comparable quality I connected with those mammoths of 20th-century literature fell completely flat. At times, it was difficult to tell if the faux sincerity was Jacobson's attempt to be earnest or sardonic, and the outright attempts ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: literary-fiction

What a dick. What a douche.

You can assign this to either the character or the author. It works either way.

David (דוד)
4.25 stars.

This was a bit of a difficult book to like, considering its topic. It took me a while to get adjusted. Starting with a 1 or 2-stars, I had to go on until it became better, until I had read nearly a third of the book.

The entire book is narrated using characters' discussions and reminiscences, largely dealing with the Jewish world in general, and in context with its relations to Gentiles; or if one wants to take it, vice-versa, the Gentile world in general, in context with its relations
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
When I started the Finkler Question, I had images of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen floating in my head. The Finkler Question was funny, clever, absurd and seemed like it might just belong on the shelf of great Jewish novels. Unfortunately, this momentum didn't continue. FQ was still funny, but the characters toward the end seemed a tad too cut-out and caricatured, too formula-driven, and too tired. It was looking for Herzog, but in the end found a book that could have been ...more
Cynthia Dunn
I can't believe this won the Man Booker.
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Julian Treslove is a 49 year old Gentile living in present day London whose life has been a series of disappointments: he has movie star good looks but can't seem to sustain a relationship with a woman for more than a few months; he was let go from his production job at the BBC for his overly morbid programs on Radio 3, a station known for its solemnity; and he has fathered two boys, who ridicule and despise him. Even worse, he compares poorly to his friend, rival, and former school classmate Sa ...more
lark benobi
The New Yorker gave this book an extremely cranky review that might be summarized something like "but this never would happen in real life!" which seems like a rational American take on this very British book. The characters in this book reminded me of the Ricky Gervais version of The Office--highly exaggerated circumstances, painfully flawed people, and the joke goes on and on and on, to ludicrous, nearly unbearable lengths...and all of it really, really funny, once you stop being offended. Bec ...more
As my five stars say, "it was amazing"!!

Funny. Scathing. Humourous. Satiric. Trivial. Serious. 'Jocoserious'. Mad. Repetitive. Circular. Sensible. Nonsensical. Touching.

The Finkler Question has something to do with Jewishness, something to do with Jewish people, nothing to do with 'Issrrae', something to do with the image of Israel, and everything to do with human nature.

Go read it!!!
Ron Charles
Oct 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Howard Jacobson's comedy about anti-Semitism, "The Finkler Question," won the $79,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction in London Tuesday, beating "Parrot & Olivier in America," by two-time winner Peter Carey, and Emma Donoghue's popular "Room." Jacobson, 68, who remains far better known in his native England than in this country, has been a prolific writer of comic novels, mostly about Jews and Jewish identity, since 1983. Several have landed on the Booker long list.

That Jacobson could write a comed
Mar 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Why did this book win a prize? Why didn't I get it? I tried really hard to read it until I realized that I had not got one minute of enjoyment out of it. So why read it? Why didn't I like it: there was a lack of story; the characters were unappealing and two-dimensional - do people like this really exist and if so, why write about them? The reviews said it was extremely funny, but I didn't laugh or smile once. Things that seemed like they might be there to be funny, I found depressing and over-o ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Jewish Book Club: The Finkler Question 11 23 Mar 16, 2017 05:51PM  
Not impressed by Finkler 21 206 Dec 28, 2016 08:08PM  
Literary Award Wi...: The Finkler Question (Part 1) 5 16 Dec 21, 2015 12:15PM  
Literary Award Wi...: The Finkler Question (Part 2) 3 7 Dec 10, 2015 09:18AM  
Jewish readers: did you relate and like this book? 8 92 May 31, 2014 03:38PM  
Interview with Harold Jacobson at Toronto Public Library 1 33 Apr 07, 2011 08:00AM  
Howard Jacobson answering questions on Classic FM's Facebook Page this Sunday 1 15 Nov 25, 2010 08:47AM  

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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

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