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J: A Novel [Format Kindle]

Howard Jacobson
1.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

Finalist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

Praise for J:

“Thrilling and enigmatic...[J’s] subtle profundities and warm intelligence are Jacobson’s own....its insistent vitality offers something more than horror: a vision of the world in which even the unsayable can, almost, be explained.” —Matthew Spektor, New York Times Book Review
“A masterwork of imagination flavored with grief.” —Jenni Laidman, Chicago Tribune
“A fascinating cautionary tale about the paradoxical dangers of assimilation and tranquility.” —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“Remarkable... Comparisons do not do full justice to Jacobson’s achievement in what may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times.” —John Burnside, Guardian
“J is a snarling, effervescent, and ambitious philosophical work of fiction that poses unsettling questions about our sense of history, and our self-satisfied orthodoxies. Jacobson’s triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling from the debris.” —Independent (UK)
J delivers a gut punch of a plot twist that rests somewhere between hope and devastation. This is a major novel, a rare work that makes readers think as much as feel.” —Shelf Awareness (starred)
“Top 50 fiction books for 2014” —Washington Post
“Fine, you can call him the British Philip Roth, but J makes me wonder when the hell we’re going to have someone with the staggering talent that we can call an American Howard Jacobson.” —Shalom Auslander, author of Hope: A Tragedy
J is a dystopia that invites comparison with George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.” —Sunday Times (UK)
“Jacobson’s fusion of village comedy and dystopian sci-fi is a tour de force.” —Publishers Weekly
“A pleasure, as reading Jacobson always is.” —Kirkus (starred)
“If you still read novels, Howard Jacobson’s J is a novel you should read.” —The Awl
“Mystifying, serious, and blackly funny... J shows that, for a writer working at the peak of his powers, with the themes of his imagined future very much part of our present, laughter in the dark is the only kind.” —Independent on Sunday (UK)
“Brilliant...J is a firework display of verbal invention, as entertaining as it is unsettling.” —Jewish Chronicle
“Readers...will find plenty to think and talk about in Jacobson’s remarkable, disturbing book.” —Booklist (starred)
“J is a remarkable achievement: an affecting, unsettling—and yes, darkly amusing—novel that offers a picture of the horror of a sanitized world whose dominant mode is elegiac, but where the possibility of elegy is everywhere collectively proscribed.” —National (UK)
“Contemporary literature is overloaded with millenarian visions of destroyed landscapes and societies in flames, but Jacobson has produced one that feels frighteningly new by turning the focus within: the ruins here are the ruins of language, imagination, love itself.” —Telegraph (UK)
“[J]’s success owes much to the fine texture of its dystopia... As a conspiracy yarn examining the manipulation of collective memory, J has legs, and it’s well worth its place on this year’s Man Booker longlist... Jacobson has crafted an immersive, complex experience with care and guile.” —Observer (UK)
“Jacobson...goes from strength to strength. This is a new departure: futuristic, dystopian, not, it seems, the world as we know it. But as we peer through the haze we see something take shape. It’s horrible. It’s monstrous. Read this for yourself and you’ll see what it is.” —Evening Standard (UK)
J is a rare combination of moral vision and subtle emotional intelligence...superb.” —Lancet (UK)
“A provocative dystopian fantasy to stack next to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, J has the kind of nightmarish twist which makes you want to turn back to page one immediately and read the whole thing again.” —Sunday Express (UK)

Praise for Howard Jacobson:

“A real giant, a great, great writer.”
–Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated
“Mr. Jacobson doesn’t just summon [Philip] Roth; he summons Roth at Roth’s best.”
–Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Jacobson’s capacity to explore the minutiae of the human condition while attending to the metaphysics of human existence is without contemporary peer.”
–Daily Beast

From the Hardcover edition.

Présentation de l'éditeur

The brilliant new novel from the Booker prize-winning author

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going.

They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over their lives is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

Set in the future – a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited – J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

Shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize

Longlisted for the JQ Wingate Literary Prize

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1665 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 353 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0553419560
  • Editeur : Vintage Digital (14 août 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0224101978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224101974
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 1.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°109.197 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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1.0 étoiles sur 5 What a disappointment 12 mars 2015
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Have read and enjoyed everything Mr Jacobson has ever written but this was a huge disappointment. Unlikable characters with a non-existent plot. Pretentious and self-indulgent writing. Just hope the next one will be better.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 étoiles sur 5  89 commentaires
32 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 We are asked to reflect on reasons for anti-Semitism and acknowledge hatred against the Other as part of human existence. 30 octobre 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
In a 2013 speech entitled “When Will the Jews be Forgiven the Holocaust?” Man Booker Prize-winning British novelist and critic Howard Jacobson (THE FINKLER QUESTION) offered at least a partial explanation for why virulent hatred of the Jewish people continues to exist and, ominously, is growing in parts of Europe. “Those we harm, we blame,” he observed, “mobilizing dislike and even hatred in order to justify, after the event, the harm we did. From which it must follow that those we harm the most --- we blame the most.” Jacobson’s chilling question and its paradoxical answer lie at the heart of J, his new Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel --- part dystopian allegory, part love story --- that deploys the tools of fiction to illumine that troubling phenomenon without abandoning the novelist’s paramount obligation to tell an emotionally honest story.

Although the time and place in which it is set are never made explicit, J seems to take place a couple of generations hence in a country whose geography and culture don’t feel all that far removed from present-day Great Britain. The society has endured some form of mass extermination or exile that’s referred to only as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED (Jacobson’s typography), reflecting a desire to bury all memory of the event. Equally ambiguous is the identity of the “aloof, cold-blooded” victims, whose “loyalty is solely to each other,” though the following description could hardly be more suggestive:

“Imaginatively, the story of their annihilation engrosses them; let them enjoy a period of peace and they conjure war, let them enjoy a period of regard and they conjure hate. They dream of their decimation as hungry men dream of banquets. What their heated brains cannot conceive, their inhuman behavior invites. ‘Kill us, kill us. Prove us right.”

Into this unsettling milieu, Jacobson introduces his protagonists: Ailinn Solomons, a beautiful 25-year-old who fashions paper flowers and her lover, Kevern “Coco” Cohen, a woodturner who specializes in producing lovespoons, and at age 40 already is experiencing “early-onset middle age.” They inhabit the small seaside village of Port Reuben, and like all citizens in a world where most people wear black and the predominant emotional color appears to be gray, they bear Jewish surnames. That’s the result of a program called Operation Ishmael, “that great beneficent name change to which the people ultimately gave their whole-hearted consent,” to ensure that “tracing lineage is not only as good as impossible, it is unnecessary.”

It gradually becomes clear that Ailinn and Kevern may have a larger destiny (one they sense dimly, at best) than the one inherent in their domestic relationship. Kevern’s movements are shadowed by a fellow teacher and artist named Edward Everett Phineas Zermansky and Detective Inspector Gutkind, who suspects Kevern of a double murder. Ailinn’s older friend, Esme Nussbaum, urges her back into the relationship with Kevern when it falters briefly early in the novel.

Unlike Orwell’s 1984, Jacobson only hints at the more authoritarian elements of his imagined world. People are “only prevented from leaving the country (or indeed from entering it) for their own good,” while reading groups are licensed, “allowed access to books not otherwise available (not banned, just not available).” In one of the novel’s most disturbing scenes, Kevern and Ailinn conclude a trip to the capital city (bitterly nicknamed “the Necropolis” by Kevern’s father), with a visit to a neighborhood their taxi driver describes as the one “where the Cohens lived.” When Kevern exclaims, “The Cohens! I’m a Cohen,” the driver replies, “No, I mean real Cohens,” and the erasure of what once was a vibrant community becomes frighteningly tangible. “They have the air of living lives on someone else’s grave,” Kevern says of the neighborhood’s inhabitants, his elegiac comment aptly summing up the novel’s predominant mood.

Despite that somber tone, J isn’t lacking occasional flashes of Jacobson’s well-known wit. Describing Kevern’s lovemaking technique, Ailinn says, “It’s as though you’re on a tourist visa. Just popping in to take a look around.” The novel’s concluding section opens with an excerpt from satirist Allan Sherman’s song “Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max,” which features a litany of Jewish surnames sung to the tune of an Irish ditty.

To the question he posed in his B’nai B’rith address, Jacobson proposed the haunting answer, “Never.” With no little amount of grace and considerable subtlety, he asks us to reflect, not only on the reasons for the persistence of anti-Semitism (and by extension other forms of ethnic animus), but also to acknowledge the harsh truth that hatred of the Other seems an inescapable fact of human existence, one that will persist until the day we’re no longer inhabiting this planet.

Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
40 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Nebulous 22 août 2014
Par Helen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This is a difficult novel to enjoy. Firstly, it deals with a dystopian society where the reasons for that dystopia are incredibly uncomfortable. Of course, good dystopian novels SHOULD make you uncomfortable as a reader so perhaps it's reading it against the backdrop of current world events that struck such a disharmonious chord within me. Secondly, it takes a very long time for the reasons behind the society created in J to become clear. There are very good reasons for Jacobson writing in this manner and the cloudy WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED events that have made things the way they are. However, even though it's intentional to be fumbling around through the chapters and trying to work out what's happening, it made the story, the characters and the writing all far too nebulous. I spent far more time attempting to decipher the clues than appreciating the novel. I should probably go back and re-read it now I know the truth but, in reality, I know I won't.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 5 stars for ideas and style, 3 for plot and storytelling 6 décembre 2014
Par TChris - Publié sur Amazon.com
J is accurately marketed as a "philosophical work of fiction." It is, unfortunately, strong on philosophy and weak on fiction. To his credit, Howard Jacobson raises important questions and avoids glib answers. He just doesn't do a very good job of storytelling.

The novel's beginning sets a promising scene. J takes place in a future of shared conventional thinking. Spontaneity and unpredictability are scorned. Jazz, wit, and other forms of improvisation have fallen out of favor. Art is a "primordial celebration of the natural world." It is meant to provoke feelings of tranquility and harmony, not anxiety or despair.

Prevailing sentiment in Jacobson's future is that we must forget the past. Conversations about the seminal event of the relatively recent past begin with "what happened, if it happened." The "twin itches" of recollection and penance are no longer scratched. People apologize without reference to any offense for which an apology might be due because random apologies eradicate and anesthetize guilt. Walls and monuments that commemorate war and suffering are gone, the "recriminatory past" replaced with an "unimpeachable future." Access to books (and therefore ideas) is restricted. Even "hoarding heirlooms" is an offense, although one the authorities will overlook if it is not carried to excess.

It is against this wonderfully detailed background that a plot fails to emerge. Instead, Jacobson gives the reader a jumble of loosely connected storylines. It is as if Jacobson put all of his effort into creating the story's background and failed to find a story that would fit within it.

One plot thread involves a romance between Kevern "Coco" Cohen, the child of parents who hid their past from him while they are still alive, and his lover Ailinn, who thinks that memories are best forgotten since memories are mostly bad. Kevern slowly uncovers his past as the story slowly moves forward. The path he travels is full of dull digressions.

Another thread is something like a murder mystery as a detective investigates a series of deaths. That story goes nowhere. Another involves a woman who had an affair with her teacher who seems to have been added to the story only because someone needed to provide an explanation of what happened, if it happened. Then there's an art historian who exists to reinforce the book's central conceit while adding little of substance to the novel.

While I was unimpressed with Jacobson's story (or failure to tell a story), I found the novel worth reading for its thoughtful exploration of ideas. One set of characters, for example, wars over the dichotomy of "never forget" and "don't live in the past." Having conquered oppression, a character suggests, "there is no need for all the morbid remembering and re-remembering. I don't say we should forget, I say we have been given the chance to progress and we should take it." Through its characters, the novel allows competing philosophies to spar: acknowledging that the past is past should not bring "automatic absolution" for past atrocities versus the sense that people of the present should not be made to bear the burden of guilt for things done by earlier generations. Jacobson also has some insightful things to say about cultural identity as a "shapely, long-ingested, cultural antagonism, in which everything, from who we worship to what we eat, is accounted for and made clear. We are who we are because we are not them."

Jacobson is a clever prose stylist -- sometimes too clever, he conveys the sense of a writer being clever for the sake of being clever -- but the cleverness kept me reading even when I had doubts about the content. There are some lengthy dead spots, including a woman in a coma whose search for words might have made a strong creative writing essay but added little to Jacobson's effort. The characters are haphazard constructs of beautiful prose; I wish Jacobson had made them worthy of the language he expended on them. For ideas and style, I would give J 5 stars; for plot and storytelling, 3 would be a stretch. My weak 4 stars is a compromise verdict.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not exciting at all 30 décembre 2014
Par Karen Blue - Publié sur Amazon.com
J was a story about a man and an occurrence. WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED is something mentioned throughout the story and it affects everything. This story involves a civilization without memory, without much hope for happiness and without much excitement. I wanted to love this tale. I enjoy most dystopian tales, but this story did not excite me. In making the characters the author created people that were devoid of passion for anything but mere survival.

Kevern is the hero of this story and his life borders on eccentricity with moments of normal. Ailinn is the heroine, the beauty who caught his eye, but she has her own heartbreaking story or abandonment in childhood. This book had my attention, and then lost it. I really had to force myself to keep reading this book. The thing is that nothing really happens in this book. This book has flat characters doing nothing special. When I say the characters are flat, that is putting it mildly. This book might appeal to scholars who love their fifty cent words in descriptions, but I believe most of the population will not enjoy this book as whole. It is too easy to get lost in the language. It might take a whole chapter for a conversation to occur.

It is a book meant for mature audiences not because of its context, but more due to its adult themes. Only boring/dull adults can understand the acceptance of opportunities missed, roads that must be taken, and settling for “good enough” to get by. Although I didn’t enjoy this book much, I keep reminiscing about the characters, who as a dull adult myself, I can wholly relate to. How unfortunate. Body image, embarrassing family ties, abandoning lovers, suspicion and fretting about nothing much. I hated myself for liking bits of this tale. It just shows how far from excitement my life has wandered, and how much I love words. Language in this book flourishes, unchecked.

I don’t believe for one minute that this many people self-analyze in any civilization, much less a society such as this. Memory is supposed to be forbidden and heirlooms are inventoried. Yet some of the characters collect the past and regurgitate it for money. I never got some of this tale, and I suspect I never will. This book was hard to read. Details were thrown together seemingly for the reader’s enjoyment, but it lost me in its fanciful telling. I know I am in the minority since this book/author has won some awards, but his just isn’t my kind of story.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 What's in a Name? A Masterpiece! 12 novembre 2014
Par Roger Brunyate - Publié sur Amazon.com
It is the names you notice first: Ailinn Solomons, Kevern Cohen, Densdell Kroplik, Breoc Heilbron, Eoghan Rosenthal, and of course the vicar, Golvan Shlagman. All the inhabitants in Port Reuben (formerly Ludgvennock) combine Jewish surnames with Celtic or Anglo-Saxon given names. Odd, to say the least. Howard Jacobson is utterly masterly in the control he shows in this extraordinary novel. To this and other questions, he gives the answers only very slowly, but he deals less in revelations than a softly proliferating tissue of suggestion. The finest tendrils merely, the associations of a word or phrase, set off occasionally by the buried detonations of some sudden shock. This is a gossamer book, a gentle comedy that seduces its readers even as it lays the heaviest moral weight upon our shoulders.

[Stop reading here if you want to let Jacobson tell things in his own way. I shall try to add a little more with each paragraph, though avoiding actual plot spoilers. If you read on, feel free to stop at any time.]

It soon becomes clear that we are in a dystopian world. Post-apocalyptic, actually, though everybody is too polite to mention what the apocalypse was; all they say, always in capitals, is WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. Some generations ago, clearly. And whatever is was, it also involved the collapse of the banking system and many of the mechanisms of government. If this is an Orwellian world, it is a gentle one, based upon willing compliance rather than enforcement. The phones make only local calls. The radio programs a steady diet of ballads and love songs. People believe in loving their neighbors and always saying sorry, though there are occasional outbursts of murder and sexual violence. Kevern (pronounced "key-vern") Cohen lives in a clifftop cottage and carves wooden lovespoons for tourists; Ailinn Solomons, his girlfriend, makes paper flowers. Among other things, this is a love story.

The J of the title is not the normal letter, but a J with two bars across it, a J that is censored or half-erased. Kevern's father would always put two fingers to his mouth, like a hand holding a non-existent cigarette, whenever a word beginning with J passed his lips, and Kevern does the same. Not that the real J-word is ever mentioned, not once. Those people simply do not exist any more; only through folklore do we know what they looked like, or how they behaved. You could look it up, of course, but the use of reference libraries is discouraged, and anyway most of the books have pages missing.

J was short-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, and would probably have won if Richard Flanagan's NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH had not been at least equally extraordinary. Jacobson's THE FINKLER QUESTION, which did win in 2010, shows him to be deeply concerned with Jewish matters: whether historically, or the place of Jews in society today, or the future of the state of Israel. But he approaches these topics in offbeat ways, as a humorist, avoiding the obvious hot buttons, and often viewing his people through the eyes of Gentiles. The leading character in FINKLER, for example, is envious of Jews and wishes to become one; the most blatant pieces of anti-Semitism in that book come from the mouths of Jews themselves.

Although references to the Holocaust creep with increasing frequency into the present novel, Jacobson is very careful not to tuck it away in a specific place in time. It is not long-dead Germans in the 1940s he is indicting, but all of us. "We have been lulled by the great autocrat-driven genocides of the recent past into thinking that nothing of that enormity of madness can ever happen again -- not anywhere, least of all here." So, with chilling prescience, writes one of the disappeared. In Jacobson's world, "It can't happen here" has morphed into "It did happen here... or did it?" This is a society that accepts (more or less) its culpability, and tries to ensure (more or less) that it will never happen again. A society that has Made Amends. Dystopian or not, it is a society basking in the same smug complacency we see today. Reading Jacobson's novel, we smile with amused recognition -- yet his implications are chilling.

In the last section of the novel, we learn of a project of restitution. Good, right? You find some surviving Jews and encourage them to build a community again. Yet the reason for it? Because people are happier having someone to hate. [6 stars]
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