Tuesday, October 19, 2010

He Wants to Scream? I've Been Screaming For Years

Howard Jacobson ponders his situation:

“To me, being a comic novelist is obviously to be serious, too — what else is there to be comic about?” Mr. Jacobson said. “But when I hear people call me a comic novelist, I want to scream, because they mean something different. I can call myself a comic novelist, though, because I know what I mean when I say it.”

He, however, unlike me, has won the prestigious Booker Prize:

...The winning book, “The Finkler Question,” is Mr. Jacobson’s 11th novel...It is an unusual Booker choice, both because it delves into the heart of the British Jewish experience, something that few contemporary British novels try to do, and because it is, on its surface at least, so ebulliently comic. It tells the story of three friends, two Jewish and one, Julian Treslove, who longs to be.

When Treslove is attacked by a mugger who mutters something like, “You’re Jules,” or possibly, “You Jew!,” the experience sends him on a long exploration of the nature of Jewishness, culturally, socially and politically. He grapples with questions like, What makes someone Jewish? Is it anti-Semitic to make generalizations about what makes someone Jewish? Why are British Jews so much more open and warm than British non-Jews?

...his friends argue endlessly about Israel, forever “examining and shredding each other’s evidence,” Mr. Jacobson writes. One of them, Sam Finkler, who writes pop-philosophy books, joins an anti-Zionist group called the ASHamed Jews — mercilessly lampooned by Mr. Jacobson — that meets regularly at the fashionable Groucho Club to denounce Israel’s foreign policy.

Some readers have misunderstood. “People think they’re parodies of Jews who happen to disapprove of Israel,” Mr. Jacobson said of the ASHamed, sitting in his apartment in the Soho neighborhood here, his new Man Booker statuette gleaming behind him. “But they’re not. They’re parodies of Jews who parade their disapproval of Israel.”

...there is an ominous undercurrent in the book in the form of a growing number of anti-Semitic attacks, mostly offstage, that shatter the complacency of characters who resist the notion of Jews as perpetual victims. Mr. Jacobson says that such incidents worry him too, and that some of the views in the cacophony of arguments and counterarguments in the book reflect his own opinions. But mostly, he said, he adheres to the notion, as one of his characters says, that “as a Jew, I believe that every argument has a counterargument.”

As BDL has written:

So now we a have a book which has won Britain's highest literary award - and it makes fun of anti-Israeli lefties! What is going to happen in Israel when it is translated into Hebrew? Will Haaretz carry articles explaining how the British literary establishment has suffered temporary insanity?

- - -

1 comment:

Juniper in the Desert said...

Do you remember the film Spartacus? One of the last scenes that they filmed from a distance, where someone had to ride a blade on a slide and was chopped in half?

Sorry, but that is how I see Howard Jacobson: he is a vile little capo, half of him is one side of the blade half holding the other side. He thinks he is safe, but he will be pushed! And good riddance! He writes total garbage and is only praised because he is an anti-Semitic joo!!