The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question

by Howard Jacobson

Janet Kolodner This book is an hysterical comedy about anti-Semitism. A quintessential goy who grew up with his Jewish friend, Finkler, and never really understood the shared understandings of the tribe, decides that maybe he is Jewish. He never does come to fully understand the Jews, but he spends a lot of time thinking about and studying these strange people (he calls them Finklers; he doesn't want to seem an anti-Semite) and even falls in love and moves in with one and adopts all kinds of Jewish customs. But he's never really comfortable, whether because he can't become comfortable or because they won't let him in (for you to figure out). There's a ton of stereotyping in here, mostly as seen from the outside, and the stereotyping seen from the outside is very funny -- high-brow funny (though the self-loathing Jews part of it is a bit tedious). It's so funny because it touches a lot of nerves, and it can be uncomfortable, because it's often hard to tell the difference between interest in the Jews and benevolent anti-Semitism. I should admit right now that I didn't understand the end, but I laughed a lot through the rest.

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