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The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
In The Finkler Question, Julian Treslove is a Gentile, but his best friend, Sam Finkler, is Jewish. Sam is successful and popular, both of which Julian envies. Sam in also so Jewish that Julian thinks of other Jews as "Finklers." When Julian is mugged by a woman who might have confused him for a Jew, he thinks that maybe he might just become a Jew. Finkler is also in mourning for his deceased wife, and Julian longs to fall in love with a woman and have her die in his arms so he too can experience profound grief. Sam's life is defined by his passions while Julian's life is defined by his lack of passion, but Julian is willing to learn. Howard Jacobson's novel has won the Booker Prize and positive reviews with The Scotsman saying, "The opening chapters of this novel boast some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language, as though the writer, like his characters, is caught up in a whirlwind courtship (of each other, of the reader, of the idea of the preciousness of now in the teeth of time's passing). Jacobson's brilliance thrives on the risk of riding death to a photo-finish, of writing for broke. Exhilaration all the way."