The Man Booker Prize longlist is like the Oscar Best Picture nominees, except it has 13 names, it’s British, and it’s about books. But it is a big deal over there (for gambling purposes, among others), and it just so happens that, when this year’s longlist dropped yesterday, one name stuck out: Howard Jacobson and his The Finkler Question. (Incidentally, the notable snub was Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow.)
This is not just because he is Jewish! Jacobson was a podcast guest of ours two years ago, when he discussed his previous novel, Kalooki Nights (which was also longlisted). At the time, Jacobson—who has been called the “British Philip Roth”—was explaining why he had written another Jewish-themed novel after having sworn not to.
Did he live up to his oath for The Finkler Question? Well, if this review is any indication (and if the title is any other), the theme of Jewishness does, shall we say, come up in the novel. The shortlist will be revealed in September, the winner announced in October.