Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Finkler Question, Howard Jacobson

Holy wow I loved this book. It took me about fifty pages to utterly fall in love with Jacobson's writing, but once I was into it, I loved it. There's so much witty banter and truly deep insight into the characters; even the less frequently mentioned characters (Treslove's sons and their respective mothers; the deceased Tyler) are incredibly well developed. 

The dialogue between Libor and Treslove is brilliant, heart wrenching even. The loyal yet heated rivalry between Treslove and Finkler was a little reminiscent of the lead two in McEwan's Booker winner (I recommend that book, too). 

Jacobson's sensitivity about stereotyping, racism, and cultural identities (belonging, as well as not) reminded me of Junot Diaz. I've made a lot of comparisons to really great books/writers because Jacobson is in good company when writing about cultural identity and relationships; but Jacobson gives you a larger scale perspective with his inclusion of the greater political issues; ie, the internal arguments within Judaism regarding Israel. Not only does it stamp the novel with a timely context, but it makes the discussion so much more universal than just the neighborhood in London this novel occupies. 

Jacobson covers all sides of the conversation with the tactfulness of an anthropologist, yet keeps the novel well paced with witty dialogue and character analysis. As guffaw-worthy as some of Nick Hornby's creations, but with more of Chang Rae Lee's wisdom; this book is one of my favorite releases from last year. 

The Finkler Question, Howard Jacobson
ISBN: 1408808870 

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