The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

  • Started on: 2011-04-28
  • Finished on: 2011-04-28
  • Read in: English
  • Rating: “****-”
  • Genre(s): General Fiction


The Man Booker prize winner of 2010, The Finkler question is about three men and judaism. The main character, Julian Treslove is a sorry character, depressing and always feels he is one step away from total disaster. He is single, never really had a long term relationship and has no real goals or joy in his life. Sam Finkler is his friend from back when they went to school together, although they don’t really like each other. Finkler, who is Jewish, has just lost his wife. He is also a successful author of popular philosophical works, and appears on TV regularly. The third man is Libor Sevcik, 30 years older than Finkler and Treslove, also Jewish, and their former teacher. Libor has also just lost his wife after a love-filled marriage of fifty years.
In the book, Judaism and Jewish identity are the main subjects. Treslove, a non-Jew, is intrigued by Judaism and Jews. Finkler is trying his best to convince himself he is not like other Jews. Libor loses himself and grief and his thoughts about his faith change throughout the work. Meanwhile anti-Jewish sentiments are on the rise due to the situation in Israel/Palestine and they all have to deal with it one way or the other.
It took me a little bit to get into the story, mainly because Treslove is not a very like-able man (I found him whiny), and in the beginning the story jumps around with flashbacks and thoughts of the characters. But, when the lines of the story became clearer I was hooked and I loved the way the three characters react to the world around them and try to find their way and their identity. Tragic, but a very good story.