Howard Jacobson || Shylock Is My Name

This was my third and final Jacobson. I know that some people appreciate his sense of fun and laugh their heads off reading his novels, I am not one of those people. Shylock Is My Name did not make me smile even once. If it were not for the fact that I have been known to laugh out aloud whilst reading or watching novels, sitcoms and movies I would start to doubt my own sense of fun. If you strip away being able to laugh whilst reading Shylock what is left is a rather heavy handed novel with a severe message. To be clear: That message stands. Jacobson makes it very clear he is against racism and discrimination and is in favour of forgiveness and compassion,  whatever colour of skin, heritage or religion. I take his novel to be an allegory taking the strive between Jews and Christians as the symbol of racism and discrimination in general (if not, if the novel is just about the conflict between Jews and Christians he has me lost even more).  Shylock being an allegory I suppose the main characters are caricatures. Well, they are. Heiress Anna Livia Plurabella Cleopatra A Thing of Beauty Is a Joy Forever Christine aka Plurabella, being the summit. She is so out of this world she really has no clue what she is doing and does not hesitate to make a match between a fifteen year old girl and a man twice her age. The combination of message and caricature does not make for pleasant reading as far as I am concerned. The message might have come over better if Jacobson had not combined it with a father’s concern for his daughter. What father would not have worried about his 15-year old having an affair with a 30-year old man, regardless of religion. The daughter being Jewess and the man being a gentile does is hardly the point in this case. Jacobson does make it more about religion and that I do not get. It is not just that I do not find him funny, it is also that I find him lacking in working out his novels well.
Conclusion: Jacobson is not my cup of tea. I’m afraid I am not exactly the right person to advise anyone whether to read his novels. I can give you a clue tough: if you haven’t laughed a single time within the first ten pages, just quit. It’ll not happen.



About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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