Maxie Glickman, the narrator of Howard Jacobson’s latest novel, is a caricaturist who declares of his craft, ‘I’m meant to concentrate only on what’s salient’. And to Glickman, as to his creator, the only salient characteristic of Jews is their Jewishness.
Having explored various aspects of Jewish life in earlier novels, Jacobson now turns to the nature of Judaism itself and, in particular, what it means to be a Jew in a world tainted by Auschwitz. In a series of variations on this central theme, Maxie examines the impact of being Jewish on his family and friends and its ambiguous attraction to his two Gentile wives.
Maxie grows up in the Manchester suburb of Crumpsall Park in a household consisting of his father Jack, his mother Nora, his sister Shani, and his mother’s half-brother, known as Tsedraiter Ike to distinguish him from the four other Ikes in their immediate circle. Jack, a former boxer