The Finkler Question is a captivating and very funny account of one man, Treslove’s, desire to understand what it is to be a Jew while rather wishing he were one himself. One of the three main characters in the novel is Sam Finkler, a popular philosopher and TV personality, who seems to so embody all the necessary characteristics that Treslove starts to refer to all Jews as Finklers and any oddities as Finklerisms.
Libor, the third man and the oldest, has just lost the love of his life, his beloved wife, Malkie and his two old school friends, Treslove and Finkler join him for dinner to comfort him and to reminisce. Following this dinner, Treslove – already in our eyes rather a sad figure, unlucky in love and work – is mugged and his life changes. His quest for the core of Judaism while being at times highly amusing provides him with no real answers and some might take issue with his characterisation of the typical jew.
Libor is a Zionist and Finkler is an anti-Zionist, a deliberate ploy by Jacobson giving him the opportunity to explore the current Israeli situation. It is possible, however, that Jacobson is only using Treslove’s quest as a front for a search for explanation of all relationships in the world especially that of victimhood. The humour is delightful and brilliantly sustained even bringing a smile on the last page.
While Jacobson’s writing is described as being both mobile and inventive, it lacks the precision and exactness of Kalooki Nights. At times his verb-less sentences and awkward constructions look as if they need a good editor. Nevertheless, it is a compelling novel and definite page-turner and an interesting study of male friendships.
I leave you all to judge if you consider it a worthy winner!