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Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson
In Kalooki Nights, Max Glickman grew up in north Manchester in the 1950s in a secular Jewish family. His father was an ex-boxer and his mother spent her time playing kalooki with friends. He's a cartoonist who creates graphic stories about Jewish suffering, even though he's moved away from his religion and married outside of it. His life, though, is comically woven through Jewish traditions and stereotypes. His childhood friend, Manny, came from an unhappy Orthodox family and he murdered his parents. As Manny is to be released from prison, a TV company convinces Max to look up his old friend do a treatment on him. As Max helps Manny uncover his past and the reasons for his actions, they eventually lead to the Holocaust, drawing Max back into the faith he's rebelled against. Howard Jacobson's novel uses comedy to explore tragedy, and Kalooki Nights has received positive reviews. The Observer says, "It is likely to be the funniest book published this year."