Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson

The Finkler Question is yet another book from The Economist's Best Books of 2011 issue. The back cover describes it as "a funny, furious, unflinching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity."

Pretty well sums it up, even if it doesn't exactly go into particulars in any way, shape, or form.

A few things to note, if you care to rush out and buy The Finkler Question: it deals extensively with the conflict between Palestinians and the Israeli government. I already had a pretty set idea of my beliefs, in regards that conflict, and they're not fundamentally changed after reading the book, but it definitely gives pause for thought.

Barnes & Noble Review warns that the book "will probably distress you on its way to disarming you." The story deals with modern Jews living in England, and their perception of events and issues shaping the Palestinian conflict, as well as the views of other countries. Secular and religious Jews face off, and there is even a case of a "hate crime" committed by one Jew against another.

The Finkler Question discusses the conflict in intensely humanizing and personal ways, and though it is at the heart of the story, it is only one of the topics addressed. The universal need for love and acceptance and belonging, the battle against the personal history that shapes each and every human being, and the failings of friends as new interests arise all confront the reader throughout the engrossing novel.

I definitely recommend it.

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