21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Well written and funny at the beginning, but I ended up hating it.,
This review is from: The Finkler Question (Paperback)
This is a book about Anti-Semitism, especially London Jewish self-loathing Anti-Semistism.
If you are someone who could not possibly find this an interesting subject, I wouldn't even bother starting it.
As a Jewish Londoner, I do find the subject very interesting indeed...but maybe in a newspaper article. In a novel there has to be, surely, something more, like a decent story or touching, realistic characters.
I did really laugh at the beginning of the book; proper laugh-out-loud laughing. But I'm not sure if you are not Jewish and have had little contact with Jews, you'd see the joke. Lots of Yiddish expressions and in-jokes, which mean a lot to me as a middle-aged North london Jew, but to the gentile world? I'm not being condescending, but have you ever given thought to the difference between a "shlepper" and a "nebbishe"? Jacobson says a "shlepper" knows he's a "shlepper", but a "nebbishe" is unaware that he's a "nebbishe". To me, that is a very observant comment by the author and I have given it much thought since reading it. I think he's right. What do you think? Do you have any idea what he's talking about? Do you care?
Reading the first 50 pages or so I thought I was going to love this book and was looking forward to writng a positive review, but suddenly, and I don't know exactly when, I felt...ENOUGH ALREADY!
It's like going to a friend's 50th birthday party, having a great time dancing to all the old 70s disco classics and then, almost without warning, a wave of fatigue sweeps over you and you want to go home...right now!
Unfortunately, despite its very promising beginning, this novel rapidly turns into a very tiresome rant, but I'm not sure about what...and I couldn't wait to finish it. I can't even tell you what happened in the end. I couldn't care less. Most importantly, it doesn't give a very favourable impression about people of my background...and that really upsets me. So, dear freinds from other faiths and no faith, I ask you please to watch Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm instead...and laugh yourself to sleep every night.
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Initial post: 20 Aug 2013 11:54:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Aug 2013 11:58:32 BDT
RAY RIDGE says:
THANKS for this erudite summation. As a gentile I struggled through this book, 'twice' - - such patience (?) - - in the hope of getting to where the Booker Prize Judges got, but to no avail. So, to read your critique gave me some sense of relief: I wasn't alone in wondering what the heck was the point of the Finkler Question? In the end I concluded it was a 'conceit' by Jacobson and by alleged intellectual literary notables who got caught up in the cleverness of the sentences and missed the factual reality the narrative went almost nowhere at all in terms of a "question" or even a relevant "Finkler" moment! The navel-gazing just got too trivially far-fetched, e.g. I had to begin reading it twice because first time I ploughed through the double-page account of penile circumcision just dazed by what on earth was this supposed to bring to a narrative that couldn't have been dealt with in a couple of lines!? Of course a book doesn't need pleasant etc characters to be interesting and engaging, but it does need characterisation that draws in concern for those mentioned even if only for their ultimate situation. IMO the only appealing character worthy of some recollection and consideration was Hephzibah, but there again, the author seemed so wrapped up in male jewishness he seemd to dump all over her as the jew-wife via Treslove and her enthusiasm for a museum. I was so disappointed by this book: How it won Man-Booker I shall never understand!
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2013 13:00:35 BDT
S. Collins says:
Well, I did warn you, Ray.
Thank for your kind words.
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