“J,” Howard Jacobson’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel, is being described as both Orwellian and dystopian. The book’s narrative is brilliantly and chillingly depicted sometime in the not too distant future. Jacobson, through hints and allusions, reveals the occurrence of a second Holocaust suffered by the Jewish people. Inconceivable, you say?
Yet, it is a fact that in today’s Europe, Jews have become marginalized once again. Jews are leaving France in droves due to the overt anti-Semitism there. Throughout Europe, observant Jews wearing conspicuous yarmulkes are often targets of verbal, and occasionally, physical abuse.
Jacobson utilizes a heavy dose of Swiftian and Rabelaisian satirical wit to make the inconceivable conceivable. Reading “J” requires patience. You will find yourself rereading passages as it is easy to miss cogent allusions as the story unfolds.
Once you finish the book, there is a sudden realization that you have read a masterpiece, subtly terrifying as it may be.