‘J’ : Howard Jacobson

J Jacobson

Another stunning book from Howard Jacobson whose ‘Finkler Question’ won the Man Booker Prize in 2010. Set in a world after a cataclysmic event only referred to  as ‘WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED’, this is the love story of Ailinn and Kevern brought together in a radically changed society  for a purpose which only becomes chillingly clear at the very end.

It doesn’t take much imagination to surmise that the novel has its origins in ideas about the Holocaust, but the world view could apply to more than one historical event, tackling the idea of the need for nations and tribes to have other nations or tribes to hate- people who are like them but just a bit different. In the new world of ‘J’ the past has been ‘let go’ and history has been ‘forgotten’, but the message of the book seems to be that such a state of affairs cannot last-  people need a scapegoat.

Not exactly science fiction, but a comment on the dangers of covering up the past. Would apply equally to any war-torn part of the world today. Longlisted for Man Booker prize 2014- deserves to be shortlisted