The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Is it ‘why did I read this’? Perhaps it should be…

I chose this book because it won the Man Booker Prize last year, and I have found that I have really enjoyed several of the past winners. Bah. This book really annoyed me. It’s about a guy I don’t care about and a couple of his mates who I also don’t care about. Both his mates (one an ex-college classmate, the other a former teacher) are Jewish. He’s not. And then it rambles on for about three hundred pages about to be or not to be Jewish. And then it ends.

I just don’t get it. Perhaps I am not educated enough on the Israel/Palestine situation, or perhaps it is just that, by not being Jewish, I don’t get the difference between being Jewish and not. I don’t know. To me, people are people regardless of religion, race or education.

What I really don’t get is that everyone (being the reviewers on the back, plus several online reviewers) calls this a funny book. I don’t think I even cracked a smile – and, as anyone who knows me, I laugh at everything. Often, even not very funny things. Even Jonathan Safran Foer loved it, and I love his writing. His writing makes me laugh; his writing made me laugh out loud on my own in the foyer of a hotel in Estonia.

Having said that, according to the Wikipedia entry, most Amazon reviews are negative, suggesting that the reviewers and etc. are seeing something different to the average reader.

Have you read it? Did you get it? Did it make you laugh? Please comment, I’d love to know what you think.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Is it ‘why did I read this’? Perhaps it should be…

  1. Ivy

    Good on you! I love your comment that people are people regardless of religion or race. I haven’t read The Finkler Question (although I have read quite a few of the Booker prize winners) but I think I totally agree with you – the whole book seems to be about being Jewish or not Jewish – I do know quite a lot about the Israel/Palestinian question and also about Jewish history and religion, but such a book would not interest me. I suppose finding his Jewish identity (or not finding it) was terribly important to him and he wrote a couple of hundred pages about it. I could try to find my own identity and write a couple of hundred pages about it, but it would bore everybody I think!

  2. Giulia

    Haha Margeart!
    The book may not have made you laugh but this post made ME laugh!
    Just thought I’d comment because I was thinking about how funny and strange it would be if those crappy one-line reviews on the back of books ACTUALLY told the truth.
    “Crap, don’t bother”
    “Didn’t laugh once, maybe it’s because I’m not Jewish”
    “I just didn’t care about the guy”

    • Thanks, Gulz! Somehow, if I keep reviewing like that, I don’t think my comments will get on the cover of any books, which really is a shame for anyone just like me who might be tempted to buy them.

  3. Wendy H

    mute point but what else would you do in the foyers of hotels in Estonia?

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