Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hey, Who Won the Man Booker Prize this year?!

He should have seen it coming.

His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one...
That's not a quote about Howard Jacobson winning the Man Booker Prize this year, it's the beginning of his book, The Finkler Question "a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity." The Finkler Question is Howard Jacobson's 11th novel. Two previous novels longlisted for the Man Booker Prize were Kalooki Nights in 2006 and Who's Sorry Now in 2002. Much talk has circulated about Howard Jacobson being an underrated, but highly regarded writer. Winning the Man Booker Prize finally brings Jacobson into the limelight some say he should have gotten long ago. Part of the problem may be that Howard Jacobson writes comic novels (with a bit of tragedy thrown in for good measure). Aren't literary awards for the light of heart too?! Some also say that this is the first time in the 42 year history of the Man Booker Prize that a comic novel has won. Here's what The Finkler Question is all about...

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 Sam 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, 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.
I picked up a copy of Howard Jacobson's book because I do like to read the Man Booker Prize winners. I wait every year to see what books made the longlist to see if I've read any of them yet, and I love to guess what novels will make the shortlist.

Do you intend to read The Finkler Question because it won the Man Booker Prize? Do you tend to shy away from "comic" writing? The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson is available in paperback now! And Kindle readers can buy The Finkler Question for the Kindle for $7.84 right now! If you'd like to read a sample, you can read the First Two Chapters courtesy of Amazon.

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