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Kalooki Nights Hardcover – 22 Jun 2006

21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Edition edition (22 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224078658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224078658
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 969,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), the highly acclaimed The Act of Love and, most recently, the Man Booker Prize 2010-winning The Finkler Question. Howard Jacobson lives in London.

Product Description


"Here he is at the top of his form in a comic/tragic epic". -- Melvyn Bragg, The Guardian

"The biggest laugh and the biggest cry since Angela Carter's Small
Children." -- Simon Schama, Observer.

"The raging, contentious, hilarious, holy, deicidal, heartbreaking Kalooki Nights is a novel that stands toe-to-toe with the greats" -- Sunday Telegraph

"raised his game... to fresh heights and depths" -- Independent: Christmas books

'This is turbocharged; someone has put a rocket under Jacobson, and the result is scintillating' -- Evening Standard

'a masterpiece …a brilliantly constructed, playful, evocative, hilarious, midnight dark novel' -- Sunday Herald

A ferocious intelligence courses through it, reminiscent of Philip
Roth at his... best.’
-- Jonathan Freedland, Jewish Chronicle

an uncompromising and uncomfortably funny novel
-- Metro - Best Fiction of 2006

‘likely to be the funniest book published this year…prose sharper and brighter than any of his contemporaries’ -- The Observer

• ‘a welcome return to the bittersweet Yiddish-inspired humour at which Jacobson excels...comparisons with Philip Roth…a gloriously pugnacious novel' -- The Guardian

Book Description

Howard Jacobson's blackest - and funniest - novel to date. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Llewellyn on 22 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
I've not read Kiran Desai's 2006 novel 'The Inheritance of Loss', so I'm unqualified to say whether it deserved to beat 'Kalooki Nights' to not only the Booker shortlist but the prize itself. All I *can* say is that 'Kalooki Nights' is, indeed, better than 'The Finkler Question', the novel with which Howard Jacobson eventually nabbed the Booker and a little bit of long overdue attention.

Yes, it has the same rambling, anecdotal style which Jacobson's critics hate; yes, if you're a gentile with little or no experience of Jewish culture you might find yourself a little lost amongst the shtetls, shiksahs, schmucks and schlemiels; but this is, I think, the more focused novel, plunging that little bit deeper into the modern, British-Jewish psyche than its follow-up.

For a novel which explores some very dark and troubling themes and subject matter, it's often side-splittingly, laugh-out-loud funny (in a way which 'Finkler', aside from "the facepaint incident", isn't), and even its most oblique or eccentric characters are sympathetic and sometimes endearing.

Don't get me wrong... I loved 'The Finkler Question', and if you want to read an entertaining satire on contemporary (as in bang-up-to-date) Jewish life in Britain, you should read it ASAP. But 'Kalooki Nights' is, I think, a better demonstration of Jacobson's skill as a writer and as a story teller.

I've heard a great many readers of 'Finkler' who are first time readers of Jacobson's work complain that it wasn't what they were expecting. They were expecting a novel that had more substance, more jokes, more engaging characters. The book they may have been expecting was, I believe, 'Kalooki Nights'. But don't take my word for it... Read both!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Altman on 21 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
I read somewhere that Jacobson himself said of 'Kalooki Nights' that it was 'the most Jewish book ever written by anybody anywhere'. Jacobsonian tongue in cheek hyperbole notwithstanding, I agree.

I see that A C Grayling ranks the book as genius. I agree with this too. But I don't think he's Jewish? Simon Schama (who is Jewish) says 'you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this book - just human'. But I would imagine that you do need to have one helluva lot of insider Jewish knowlege, not to mention experience, to really get all of what's going on here fully.

Jacobson recently appeared on the Sky Arts book show apropos winning the Booker for 'The Finkler Question'. (Which is a very Jewish book too, but still not as much as this one, actually.) Frostrup asked, so what is Jewishness? (Or something similar.) HJ replied 'I don't know what Jewishness is' (or something similar). Well, in Kalooki, the main character is a cartoonist. Let's say for argument's sake that there's a lot of HJ in Max Glickman, the cartoonist. And at one point Maxie says of cartooning 'it's an irresponsible affair, not to be taken too seriously'. HJ's response to Frostrup is a case in point. If anyone knows Jewishness inside out it's HJ. Kalooki is a brilliant read - hilarious at times, profoundly poignant at others. It is also a compendium of Jewishness. There is nothing that is Jewish that is not in this book.

Here's another sample of this irresponsible (mischievous?) tendency: Frostrup asked why he considered himself to be the Jewish Jane Austen. (As he has famously said.) His response: 'Well, no, what I mean is the male Jane Austen'. So an arresting and cheeky remark tossed out without too much honing of the intent, folllowed by a quick retraction when challenged.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 21 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm a long-time fan of Howard Jacobson's and have enjoyed his last four novels: No More Mister Nice Guy, The Mighty Walzer, Who's Sorry Now? and The Making of Henry. So when Kalooki Nights was published and seemed to achieve a sort of critical consensus in the papers (see the reviews extracted above, as well as A.C. Grayling's extraordinary eulogy in The Times: "it is, to state plainly, a work of genius"), I couldn't wait to read it. Then it was longlisted for the Booker Prize last week, and quickly was tipped for the shortlist.

So it gives me no pleasure at all to say that I have given up on Kalooki Nights at about the one-third mark (page 150). Even by Jacobson's discursive, rambling standards it really is toweringly random and in the end the critic I most agreed with is Michael Moorcock who said "Jacobson is a great anecdotalist but a lousy storyteller." Now anyone who reads Jacobson knows that the plot is not the point: but even so. There is less a story than an exploration around a story: specifically, the narrator Maxie Glickman trying to discover why his childhood friend Manny Washinsky gassed both his own parents in their bed. The cultural background, if you hadn't guessed by the names, is Jewish, or Jewish squared: as Jacobson himself said, "it's the most Jewish novel ever written by anyone anywhere." This will be familiar to anyone who's read any of Jacobson's other novels (particularly the semi-autobiographical coming of age story The Mighty Walzer), and here we have the added colour of the big Jewish storyline of the 20th century - the Holocaust.

Sadly for me Jacobson's black humour and tangential style didn't work here the way it has in his other books, and I'm afraid I found Kalooki Nights tiresome almost from the outset: which can't be a good sign.
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