Monday, October 31

Book Review: The Finkler Question

Title: The Finkler Question

Author: Howard Jacobson

Pages: EBook (Approx 287)

Summary: Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other—or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results.

Now, both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor's grand, central London apartment.

It's a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn? Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends' losses.

And it's that very evening, at exactly 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.

My Rating: 4/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book has received such high praise I feel I must be missing something but I didn't find anything funny about the book nor did I find the plot to be interesting or even a good read. I was bored with the book for the majority of the time, although it started to pick up in the end, the author threw some twists in it was too little too late.

I didn't like the characters at all, which was probably my biggest issue of the book. While they were dealing with issues of loss and identity, they weren't written in a way I could connect with them, all I got from them was that they were bitter and angry old men, two who were Jewish and one who wanted to be Jewish, which was what most of the plot seemed to surround, what it means to be Jewish and not to be. The book also covered a lot of social and political issues surrounding the religion - which wasn't something I was looking for in a novel, I was often bored and disconnected with the plot and characters. Again, it wasn't to the end the book started to have any redeeming qualities, but as I said above it was too little too late.

Overall it wasn't the best book I've read, especially one that has received such high praise and literary awards.

Would I recommend it to read: I don't think I would the book was just - boring and not at all what I'd expect from a literary award winner.

What to read next: I'd suggest some of the other man book award winners and nominees.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge


  1. I have also heard others say that they were confused that this one won the prize, and I can sort of see why. It doesn't seem like something that I would enjoy at all, and I don't think I will be reading it. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful review on this one. It was wonderful to read your candid opinions.

  2. Zibilee - I think this book is targeted at a specific audience, I'm starting to think that's why so many people are questioning the book, as most people don't seem to fall in tha audience group.