Where did the year go? It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed. It wasn’t too long ago that we were all buzzing over the last Booker prize winner, Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall. It should be noted that I am currently stuck in the mire of Wolf Hall. It lured me with all of its promises and now I am knee-high in word muck. It may be my first official DNF (did not finish) for the year.
So when they announced this year’s winner, Howard Jacobson and his novel The Finkler Question, I took a moment to consider if, in fact, I will actually read it. One thing that gave me pause is that I had not heard of his book before this. The other books that were short listed I had heard of in some way, but not this one. This of course intrigued me and reminded me just how many books are out there that we never even hear about.
Here is a blurb to whet your appetite:
Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they’ve never quite lost touch with each other – or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results.
Now, both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor’s grand, central London apartment.
It’s a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn? Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends’ losses.
And it’s that very evening, at exactly 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.
The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.
It may be me but the description sort of reads like a movie. It does sound good though…particularly that reference to it being a “scorching story of friendship and loss.” Will you read it? Of all the awards out there, I do try to read the Man Booker prize winners but as you saw above, they don’t always work for me.