Tuesday 10 December 2013

The (Reprehensible) Finkler Question - Howard Jocobson (2010)

At the end of each year I give my book club group at the library the opportunity to vote on both the best and the worst books read during the year. Three years ago The Finkler Question was overwhelmingly voted the worst book of the year. This was the year it won the Man Booker Prize, a fact that all thirty active members could not fathom considering it was totally unappealing in almost every way. When considering my choice for the worst book of 2013 I realised that I still hadn’t read a book that came close to the awfulness of The Finkler Question. I can’t even bring myself to give even a brief synopsis, the memories are simply too distressing, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I may well be overdoing this a bit (true, but only a bit), but for a book that was meant to be funny (it wasn’t at all) and had won a major prize, surely it should display some finer points? Unfortunately the extremely irritating protagonist, overdone theme of identity (of the possible Jewish kind*) and a prose style like fingernails down a blackboard were reprehensible. There I’ve said it: reprehensible. This is a nice segue to the real reason why I'm talking about this book. Recently I created a ratings link on this blog, but my lowest rating of reprehensible was not represented due to the fact that no book has deserved such a description during the lifetime of the blog. Recently I realised that I may not read a reprehensible book for a long while and that the rating would remain tragically unrepresented. So, it was logical; all I needed to do was make a brief post about just how the dreaded The Finkler Question scarred me for life and the problem would be solved. 

If anyone happens across this post and had a good time reading The Finkler Question, then please tell me why I’m wrong. Meanwhile read it at your peril!

* This is in no way an anti-Semitic comment.


  1. Oh, that's too funny Jeremy, the book is so bad it needs its own category in the ratings system! I don't know if I've ever heard so many people pan a Booker winner before - I certainly won't be going near it.

    1. Yeah, best keep away! Usually in my library book club group there's a cross section of opinions, weighted one way or another, but in this case no one liked it out of 25 - 30 people! In my case it's become an easy comic reference for terrible writing. Poor guy, when you look on Goodreads there's hardly any support for the book either...