Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson
A Novel

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Synopsis

Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic history titled Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Growing up, Max is surrounded by Jews, each with an entirely different and outspoken view on what it means to be Jewish. His mother, incessantly preoccupied with a card game called Kalooki, only begrudgingly puts the deck away on the High Holy Days. Max's father, a failed boxer prone to spontaneous nosebleeds, is a self-proclaimed atheist and communist, unable to accept the God who has betrayed him so unequivocally in recent years.

But it is through his friend and neighbor Manny Washinsky that Max begins to understand the indelible effects of the Holocaust and to explore the intrinsic and paradoxical questions of a postwar Jewish identity. Manny, obsessed with the Holocaust and haunted by the allure of its legacy, commits a crime of nightmare proportion against his family and his faith. Years later, after his friend's release from prison, Max is inexorably drawn to uncover the motive behind the catastrophic act -- the discovery of which leads to a startling revelation and a profound truth about religion and faith that exists where the sacred meets the profane.

Spanning the decades between World War II and the present day, acclaimed author Howard Jacobson seamlessly weaves together a breath-takingly complex narrative of love, tragedy, redemption, and above all, remarkable humor. Deeply empathetic and audaciously funny, Kalooki Nights is a luminous story torn violently between the hope of restoring and rebuilding Jewish life, and the painful burden of memory and loss.
 

About Howard Jacobson

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Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, England. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), No More Mr. Nice Guy, Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), The Finkler Question (winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize), and, most recently, Zoo Time. Jacobson lives in London.
 
Published April 3, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 482 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Kalooki Nights

Kirkus Reviews

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Together with his Holocaust-obsessed friend Manny Washinsky, the neurotic son of Orthodox parents, Max planned a series of books to change the world, starting with Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, “a comic-book history of the sufferings of the Jewish people over the last five millennia.” But th...

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The Guardian

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Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson Vintage £7.99 The boys who form the central, tragic relationship that powers Howard Jacobson's stunning novel do not, unlike the mythical kids conjured up by The Dangerous Book for Boys, spend their time skimming stones and laying tripwires.

Sep 02 2007 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

The Guardian

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Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson Jonathan Cape £17.99, pp480 It is boom time for those with the patience to make those without a sense of humour laugh.

Jul 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

The Guardian

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Kalooki Nights by Howard Jacobson 472pp, Jonathan Cape, £17.99 In Peeping Tom, Howard Jacobson's second novel, two Jewish boys get an erotic charge from looking at photographs of naked women in concentration camps.

Jul 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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His introverted childhood friend, Manny Washinsky, grows up to commit a ghastly crime (also shiksa-related), but in their early adolescence, the two boys get together in an abandoned air raid shelter in 1950s Manchester to work on a comic-book history of Jewish suffering, Five Thousand Years of B...

Jan 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

The Independent

The plot itself is easily told: Max Glickman, the narrator, is born into the self-perpetuating shtetl of Crumpsall, son of former champion boxer Jack "The Jew" Glickman, who had no time for Judaism, "which he considered, somewhat illogically, to be a curse on the Jews".

Jul 14 2006 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

Spectator Book Club

In a lecture he gave in January at the London Jewish Cultural Centre, Jacobson said, ‘For us [Jews] to be truly convinced we are reading Jewish literature, we must read about the Holocaust.

Jul 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

Spectator Book Club

It is a book full of Jewish words and phrases, Jewish customs and Jewish friends and relatives.

Jul 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Kalooki Nights: A Novel

Reader Rating for Kalooki Nights
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