The Finkler Question, By Howard Jacobson

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The Independent Culture

With Jacobson, and especially on this Man Booker-winning form, you sign up for the process - for the uproarious, heart-rending journey - and not for some imaginary "closure". As with literature, so with life.

Some readers complain about the talky plotlessness of the novel that at last snared Jacobson the bauble he thought would forever elude him. Well, as his three wrangling friends – two history-haunted, philosophising London Jews and a touching, comic wannabe called (what else?) Julian – come to know too well, our human plot can end only one way.

Until it does (and grief in many forms shapes and shadows all the bitingly intelligent comedy on display here) they – and we – must keep talking, joking, trying to understand. Failing again. Failing better.