Ron Charles reviews The Finkler Question

First the Nobel prize, and now the Man Booker Prize…it must be award season in the literary world.  And while *some* bloggers think it’s totally uncool to blog about big book news, like who wins these awards, I like to re-post my favorite articles or reviews of them.  If anything, it’s good for posterity’s sake.  I love when people read Paperback Fool, but I refuse to believe there’s a set of “standards” and rules I should be following.  If I want to post about the Booker prize two days later, well then f*ck it if anyone has a problem.  Plus, people who like award season—people who may be actively updating their reading lists/spreadsheets as we speak—might not mind stumbling on an article they haven’t read yet.  So la ti da, my blog is providing a service, damnit.

From the way people talk about him on Twitter, Ron Charles is, like, a book reviewing god.  OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, especially since I don’t know THAT much about him.  But he reviews for the Washington Post, a big public sounding board where people can learn what’s IMPORTANT.  I’m sure the man read all the books on the Booker short list, but he managed to churn out a pretty good review of the latest Booker win, The Finkler Question, pretty quickly. Here’s the beginning, for those itching to find out what the big brohaha is all about.

Howard Jacobson’s Booker-winning “Finkler Question” reviewed by Ron Charles

Howard Jacobson’s comedy about anti-Semitism, “The Finkler Question,” won the $79,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction in London Tuesday, beating “Parrot & Olivier in America,” by two-time winner Peter Carey, and Emma Donoghue’s popular “Room.” Jacobson, 68, who remains far better known in his native England than in this country, has been a prolific writer of comic novels, mostly about Jews and Jewish identity, since 1983. Several have landed on the Booker long list.

That Jacobson could write a comedy about anti-Semitism isn’t shocking nowadays. A springy piece of barbed wire runs from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” through Mel Brooks’s “The Producers,” TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes,” Sarah Silverman’s Nazi riffs and all the way to Tova Reich’s outrageous satire “My Holocaust,” which dared to tweak Elie Wiesel and the schlocky aspect of the “never forget” industry.

Although there is a plot, “The Finkler Question” is really a series of tragicomic meditations on one of humanity’s most tenacious expressions of malice, which I realize sounds about as much fun as sitting shiva, but Jacobson’s unpredictable wit is more likely to clobber you than his pathos. In these pages, he’s refined the funny shtick of “Kalooki Nights” (2007) to produce a more cerebral comedy about the bizarre metastasis of anti-Semitism and the exhausting complications of Zionism.

So yes, it’s witty, but is it good for the Jews?

To find out the answer to that burning question, check out the rest of the article here.

One thing: why does the headline to this review suck?  This is the Washington Post, people.  I mean, their headline and this blog post’s headline are essentially the same, and I’m more efficient with my word count.  Tsk tsk.  Disappointing.

Another thing:  is it a sign of the times that when I Googled “The Finkler Question amazon” to find the link to the Amazon page, the page advertising the ebook was higher in the search results?  Oooooh, the death of traditional literature!  Let us bemoan the future.

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One thought on “Ron Charles reviews The Finkler Question

  1. Pingback: Sunday Salon: October 17, 2010 « Paperback Fool

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