Gwen's Reviews > The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
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Aug 21, 2011

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Read in August, 2011

This book rewards a close read. The writing is superb and there are some very subtle themes and analyses in it - more than normal in a popular novel. For me, the issue with the book is a familiar one - can I care about the characters? In this case, I could care about the oldest character, Libor, and what he was going through after losing his beloved wife of many years. But I cared little about the Jewish philosopher, Finkler, and his English friend, Treslove. These men are preoccupied with themselves, and the fact that this gives Finkler more to be preoccupied with is the reason for Treslove's jealousy of him. That and the fact that Finkler is Jewish and Treslove isn't. The Finkler Question is really the Jewish question, because Treslove has taken to calling all Jews Finklers.

An ambiguous and ingenious exploration of purpose, love and jealousy, and the place of Jews in modern English life, the novel is in my view let down by the fact that many of the characters in it are unsympathetic. Just like in real life.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Smith Yes, it is disappointing when characters in books are like real life, but I have a rather biased view of the Jewish question anyway, having recently experienced a painful relationship with a French psycho whose father was Jewish. I wondered if his psychoness had anything to do with his conflicted feelings about religion, since he was brought up in the Roman Catholic church!

message 2: by Sean (new) - rated it 1 star

Sean Libor, yes, I agree.

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