Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Finkler Question By Howard Jacobson- Review

I have two words for you; Encyclopedia & Dictionary.

Firstly, reading this book made me aware that I would never be the super champ of who wants to be a millionaire or jeopardy or any other trivia game show.

My lack of world history, religion and geography made me visit google more times than one.

However, perhaps this wasn’t a bad thing. I wasn’t completely naive when reading the words Holocaust, Palestine, Israel, Kristallnacht, Yiddish…I had a vague idea of what these words meant or had reference too but I didn’t know the impact it would have on me having these words all in the same chapter. I have been fortunate enough to have been brought up in a world where the closest I came to prejudice attacks or racism was because I was a blonde. But how I do compare something that can be easily dyed, cut and blow dried when these people have it on their faces, in their accents, in their lunch boxes, on their backs and in their hearts.

The book, through Jacobson’s wonderfully illustrative words, gave insight into the life of being a Jew, of not being a Jew and wanting to be a Jew. Oy! It delved into the lives of three men, three jobs, three different loves but one friendship.

A quote I agreed with that I read on Booktopia says it is a novel of ‘full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding’. I did laugh. I smiled. I frowned and I paused at moments that made me stop and ponder;

Just when you think you have overcome the grief, you realise you are left with loneliness, pg 14.

I also got confused. A lot of the time.

The swapping between characters as I began the next chapter took me a few seconds to respond appropriately to what was actually happening or who they were speaking about. And my lack of understanding of Jewish culture or just world culture in general demonstrated the need for me to watch or read more SBS series.

For me this book was not to be read during peppermint tea afternoons curled up on the couch but to be read while feeling curious and in the mood to question and reflect while sipping on a rather smooth plungered coffee.

Even if you have no knowledge of what it is like to be a Jew, I think you can still gather a sense of understanding on what it is like to have judgement passed on you or judgement you may have passed on others. Perhaps this book is an opportunity for you too look at yourself differently or the people around you;

But what is the imagination for if not to grasp how the world feels to those who don’t think what you think, pg 155.

Perhaps if we stop staring at the stereotypes and start looking at the person we may be able to change our attitude and ultimately our value towards this world. And if we don’t, then;

He was afraid, as a man born half a million years before him would have been afraid, that he had disobeyed the ordinances of the gods and they had visited their vengeance on his son, pg 187.

And finally, the reason I said Dictionary. I am still to use the words culpability, ignominy, obdurate and solipsistic in a sentence. Thanks Jacobson for increasing my vocabulary.

No comments:

Post a Comment