Nick Newman, the narrator of Jude Cook’s Jacob’s Advice, is a man at sea: an expat living in Paris, he fears he may never see his ex-wife and child again, is struggling to make progress with his book on the history of France from 1789 to the present day, and is adjusting to living with chronic peripheral neuropathy after suffering an adverse reaction to an antibiotic. Adding to his sense of dislocation is his cousin Larry’s insistence that they are both Jewish, based only on a shared Austrian grandmother and Larry’s lifelong love of Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Saul Bellow. The questing Larry has turned these tenuous connections into an exploration of identity and inheritance for both men.
This quest is mostly conducted over cups of allongé on the terraces of Paris cafes, and any exploration is conversational, with Larry and Nick most frequently returning to the question of what it might mean to discover that one is Jewish. The story is set in Paris in 2015 and