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on 26 March 2017
Looking forward to a holiday read.
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on 26 June 2017
I've read a few books nominated for various prizes, but this one I really struggled with. I disliked the characters almost instantly, they've nothing better to do than wishing to be someone they're not, especially Julian. Not a book for me, unfortunately.
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on 15 July 2011
I thought this was a hugely enjoyable read. Jacobson's characters were compelling and believable and plot held your attention. However it was the mix of sadness and humour which really won me over.

A deserving Man Booker winner and I will definitely be reading more of Jacobson in the future.
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on 27 March 2016
I've read pretty well all of Jacobson's books and enjoyed them - except this one. It's as though the author sat down on some occasion and said to himself, "What do I have to do to win the Booker Prize? After all, none of my previous books has made the grade, so what do I have to do?" And then the answer comes: "Write the most boring, so-called 'literary novel' that will bamboozle those boneheads on the selection committee into thinking I'm deep." It has taken me about three months to plough through this pile of crap, when I can read one of his other books at a sitting - ok, two sittings. I almost gave up on page 30 but slogged on in the hope that things would liven up. They do liven up a little in the second half of the book, but from such a low level that it is hardly noticeable. There's really no connection between characters and reader - not one of them is worth thinking about for a minute after closing the pages. Jacobson has either lost it, or his Jewish angst in his old age is overwhelming his sense of humour.
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on 7 August 2016
The story's poorly structured and a bit repetitive, but quite well-informed on various Jewish matters - unengaging, though, and almost entirely without a sense of humour.

Service from the merchant was outstanding.
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on 27 January 2017
Having read comments on the front of this book I was expecting something really humorous – a change in self identity following an unexpected event sounded like a good place to start. However, what followed was a tale of three neurotic, self obsessed men, with whom I found little to sympathise. Granted, I warmed to the character Libor later in the book and throughout he was by far the most interesting.

As is often the case with Booker prize winners I start with high hopes but find they are in some way trying too hard to be different and edgy- this was a definite case in point. The book’s atmosphere veered little from “tense” in my view, which made it far from a relaxing read although somewhat perversely one that I found I still wanted to read until the end. While the mood change in the latter parts it still left the same overall impression – probably not one I’d recommend.
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on 3 October 2011
I looked forward to reading this novel as part of a book club selection. Wow, incredibly hard going. I gave up mid way and skipped parts just to get through to the end. Humorous? No. Boring? I'm afraid so. I think the review ratings give a true reflection.
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on 21 February 2013
I tried - I really did - but I could not care about the book's characters or engage with its theme. I thought it was navel-gazing drivel. How it won a literary prize baffles me! I have discussed it with quite a few people, some of them Jewish, and we all to a person, agreed we would put it in our top five - of dullest, most tedious books ever! I bought this book because a friend recommended it. She then confessed she hadn't actually read it herself but had based her opinions on the great reviews it was getting at the time! When she did finally get round to reading it, she was very apologetic......
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on 29 November 2015
I am amazed at the number of one star reviews that this book has received on this site. A recurring annoyance to these one star reviewers seems to be the Booker prize awarded to Howard Jacobson in 2010. I confess from the outset that I don’t have very much faith in literary prizes in general, but compared to some of the bizarre choices the Booker panel have made in the past, The Finkler Question is a worthy winner.

Towards the latter part of the novel, one of the three main protagonists, Julian Treslove, the gentile of the trio, is perplexed by his Jewish girlfriend’s behaviour after she has been the victim of an anti-Semitic incident. She is crying for the hurt she feels and at the same time, laughing at the banality of the perpetrators actions. This encapsulates the whole of the novel. Howard Jacobson’s sharp and witty, but never acerbic prose, captures so perfectly the comic absurdity of his characters. At one point, surrounded by strangers on a crowded train, I laughed out loud. Yet at the same time I found myself profoundly moved by the simple, everyday tragedy of their lives.

The novel centres around the friendship of Sam Finkler and the older Libor Sevcik, two Jews on opposite sides of the Israel/Palestinian debate and Julian Treslove, the perpetual outsider. At first they seem like archetypes, but as the story unfolds their positions become more and more nuanced and layered. All three are flawed in their own way. Finkler, the successful popular philosopher is, paradoxically, at war with his lack of self-knowledge, whilst Treslove’s life is marooned in a debilitating search for an identity. Even the kindly Sevcik, whose wife sacrificed a brilliant musical career for domesticity, is haunted by the consequences of a love that became their whole raison d'être. All of this is described with a spellbinding acuteness of observation and a deep understanding of human fallibility. This is a novel that will stay in my thoughts for a long time

But most of all, as the title suggests, it raises questions – far more questions than answers. Isn’t that what good literature is supposed to do? In the end we realise there is no answer to the Finkler question.
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on 23 July 2015
This was dire. I lasted 40 pages or so. The humour was desperately laboured: e.g. the narrator fell in love with a woman who told him she was an arsonist - she leaves him, setting his sheets on fire in the process - that's it, that' s the joke, apparently. The style reminded me of Kingsley Amis at his most incoherent.
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