Kalooki Nights: A Novel
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Max Glickman, a Jewish cartoonist whose seminal work is a comic history titled Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, recalls his childhood in a British suburb in the 1950s. Growing up, Max is surrounded by Jews, each with an entirely different and outspoken view on what it means to be Jewish. His mother, incessantly preoccupied with a card game called Kalooki, only begrudgingly puts the deck away on the High Holy Days. Max's father, a failed boxer prone to spontaneous nosebleeds, is a self-proclaimed atheist and communist, unable to accept the God who has betrayed him so unequivocally in recent years.
But it is through his friend and neighbor Manny Washinsky that Max begins to understand the indelible effects of the Holocaust and to explore the intrinsic and paradoxical questions of a postwar Jewish identity. Manny, obsessed with the Holocaust and haunted by the allure of its legacy, commits a crime of nightmare proportion against his family and his faith. Years later, after his friend's release from prison, Max is inexorably drawn to uncover the motive behind the catastrophic act -- the discovery of which leads to a startling revelation and a profound truth about religion and faith that exists where the sacred meets the profane.
Spanning the decades between World War II and the present day, acclaimed author Howard Jacobson seamlessly weaves together a breath-takingly complex narrative of love, tragedy, redemption, and above all, remarkable humor. Deeply empathetic and audaciously funny, Kalooki Nights is a luminous story torn violently between the hope of restoring and rebuilding Jewish life, and the painful burden of memory and loss.
inside the workings of a mind befuddled by alcohol and could not calculate what it would do. If you want to understand a culture, look at how it goes about subverting itself. Carnival contains everything you need to know about Catholics, and Purim, the most carnivalesque of all Jewish festivals, renders up the Jew. At Purim even the holiest of men are required to get so drunk that they will not, for a whole day, be able to distinguish Mordechai from Haman, the friend from the enemy, the saint
far-fetched – that without Zoë, Errol and I would never have resumed our friendship. We differed, Zoë and I, as we differed over most things, in the matter of how and where we made each other’s acquaintance. She said it was in a crowd on Oxford Street watching a young Chinese man threatening to throw himself off the roof of Selfridges. I said it was when she was a kissogram at a party at Errol’s. I remembered the person threatening to throwing himself off a roof, only I remembered him as
have bad eyesight. ‘Who hates Jews? I don’t hate Jews.’ ‘Some of your best friends . . .’ ‘Well, you said it.’ ‘Francine,’ I said, ‘why did you take my photograph?’ ‘I am not aware that I ever did take your photograph.’ ‘In this restaurant. You got a waiter to take a photograph of us together.’ ‘Ah, that’s different. I like to have photographs of people I work with. I’m sentimental like that. Why do you find it sinister?’ It was a hard question to answer. The reason I found it sinister
sweeter than sweet sherry, and kichels. ‘Be careful, you can break your teeth on those,’ I told Dorothy. But of course she knew that already. I stuck Mick Kalooki on to Manny. If there were things about the faith Mick had not got to the bottom of yet, Manny was the one to ask. A crying shame they hadn’t been introduced to each other earlier. Dorothy I engineered into a corner, by the celloshaped cabinet where my father’s boxing gloves were still on display, and where my mother kept the glasses
the independence it enjoys from the rest of the body. And from the rest of the personality, come to that. You never know – I defy anyone to predict – what sort of hands a person is going to have. Where you would expect tapering artistic fingers, you find five amputated stumps, barely more than carpals, like broken bits of chalk. Where you imagine you are going to encounter a gorilla’s fist, you come instead upon a little rolled-up ball of pads and creases, as heartbreaking as a newborn baby’s.