Sunday, 17 October 2010
Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question (2010)
There are some interesting things going on in this novel, although not that many, and it struggles with one catastrophic problem.
I once heard Armando Iannucci interviewed on the radio, talking about stand-up comedy and related matters. He said that the most devastating heckle he ever heard wasn't in a comedy club, but at the birthday party of one of his kids. The adult Iannuccis had booked a childrens' entertainer, and as this person struggled to make the audience of severe-faced kids laugh, one of the 8-year olds stood at the back yelling 'you're not funny! you're not funny!' over and over. Iannucci said he'd never seen such a ruthlessly effective piece of rhetorical deflation. But (and this is my point): it was the voice of that kid that echoed round the chamber of my skull as I read Jacobson's novel.
Hard to see that this is the novel that merited the Booker. But there you go.