Howard Jacobson won the Booker Prize for The Finkler Question, his hilarious, pitch perfect story of Jewish sensibilities in contemporary London.
In what reads like a Woody Allen adaptation of a Saul Bellow novel, two old school friends, Julian Treslove and Sam Finkler, maintain their rivalrous camaraderie mostly through a shared affection for their former professor, Libor Sevcik. Both Libor and Sam are recent widowers, struggling in different ways through the loss of their wives. Julian is a never-married father of two grown boys who, in a fumbling search for meaning and purpose in his life, becomes fascinated by Jewish culture.
The story loops around through a tangle of family ties, Jewish holidays, Holocaust deniers, Gaza politics, marriage, adultery, fatherhood, hate crimes against Jews, racial crimes by Jews, Finkler's popular philosophy books, Julian's failed career, classical music, and avant-garde theater.
While it gets a little shaggy and the ending is confusingly ambivalent, The Finkler Question is sparklingly witty, heartwarming in important ways, and will leave you pondering.
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The audio version is particularly entertaining because the reader, Steven Crossley, is excellent. It counts as one of my books for the Audio-Book Challenge.
This was one of my Booker choices for the 2012 Battle of the Prizes, British Version.