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Extended Audio Sample Kalooki Nights: A Novel Audiobook, by Howard Jacobson Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 5 2.50 (20 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Howard Jacobson Narrator: Steven Crossley Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2015 ISBN: 9781436142960
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Self-described by the author as “the most Jewish novel that has ever been written by anybody, anywhere,” Howard Jacobson’s Kalooki Nights has received glowing critical accolades from every major publication in London. It is a strikingly profound testament to the truth that, even after enduring 5,000 years of hardships, the Jewish people still maintain an unbeatable sense of humor.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Jacobson is quite simply a master of comic precision…That the things he is joking about are so dark and dangerous makes the jokes even better. And it dawns on you that the book isn’t really just about being Jewish at all. It’s about being human.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “Howard Jacobson…is incapable of writing a predictable sentence…likely to be the funniest book published this year [with] prose sharper and brighter than any of his contemporaries.”

    Observer (London)

  • “Howard Jacobson’s tour de force…You don’t have to be Jewish to love this book, just human.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Jacobson’s prose is pure pleasure—concise, markedly insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny—and his message, ultimately, is a heartbreaker. An exceptional novel.”

    Booklist (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Milo King | 2/10/2014

    " Oy!While I'm waiting for my chance to read "The Finkler Question" - this year's Man Booker winner, I thought I would acquaint myself with some of Jacobson's back list. If I thought parts of "The Making of Henry" were a bit of a slog, putting up with the tiresome neuroses a character perhaps overly concerned with the "Jewish angle" of his every social encounter...then "Kalooki Nights" is a virtual gauntlet-run over-the-top OCD OBSESSING about any conceivable Jewish angle about absolutely EVERYTHING. I heard Jacobson himself on NPR describing this book as Jew Jew Jew, joke joke joke, etc....and he is not exaggerating...except perhaps about the jokes. There are some funny passages, to be sure...and some interesting insights to the differences in culture and concerns among British Jews from Americans, but not enough levity, for my taste, to sustain 450 pages. Some reviewers have tried to label Jacobson as the English Phillip Roth, and to that he has said he prefers to be the Jewish Jane Austen. In Kalooki Nights Jacobson makes Roth at his most vulgar seem quaint - and, as for Jane Austen, well, I can't imagine her getting past the first page or two without suffering an aneurysm. Surely a comedy of manners should have - besides comedy (and there is some of that) - recognizable manners, and there are precious few of those to behold among the landsmen or the goyim in this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aberlowitz | 2/4/2014

    " Screamingly hilarious and nail-bitingly despicable by turns. I'm glad I read it, but wished it was quite a bit shorter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 2/1/2014

    " $ 1/2, actually, tho I hesitate to round up. Very interesting mordant story about a british guy who grows up in an orthodox jewish family, in London. Jacobson won the Booker, and all NPR could ask him was silly questions about what it is like to be Jewish in the UK. I guess you would have to read the book to find out. "Kalooki" is a card game favored by the narrator's mother--into which she dives upon the death of his raving athiest father, 2/3 of the way through the book. This is after a long foreboding subplot about the serial killer also from the 'hood, the religio-miscegenation between orthodox jews and germans, the narrator's afflicted love for women only with umlauts and diareses in their names (including, at the end, one jewish woman). But for the soft line on zionism (which seemed to dissipate all the other subplots of shtetl english/yiddish, and dwellings on 'wound culture,' and being the best self-lacerater (?) that time can buy. Lots of good dialogue, and I hope I never hear of him as the Philip Roth of England. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phillip | 1/31/2014

    " This book is not for everybody as its humor is dark. Like other Jacobson books this one explores being Jewish in a non-Jewish world. Jacobson's obvious influences are Philip Roth and Mordecai Richler but he is different from either of them, perhaps because he is British. I recommend it to those of any ethnicity or religion who can laugh at the darkness we find within. For example anyone who read "Bonfires of the Vanities" and did not get that it is a very funny book should probably stay away from this one. Taking "Kalooki Nights" too seriously might be distressing. BTW Kalooki is a form of rummy that is very popular with Jews, including my mother's family. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rebecca | 1/15/2014

    " i just couldn't get into this book. i didn't enjoy the plot or his writing style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 1/12/2014

    " This book was a little hard to get into and keep a dictionary handy because his vocabulary is crazy but it was well worthwhile reading. Made me laugh and left my heart aching. A huge insight into the Jewish psyche. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cheryl Pashlin | 1/8/2014

    " I think 1 star was more than it deserved........this book took me 2 weeks when usually a book is 1-3 days of reading for me. Half of the time my mind was wandering or the book was rambling. Chalk it up to my perseverence or this book would have been chucked after 20 pages. I would not recommend this book......ever!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 1/5/2014

    " After reading the not very positive New Yorker review of Howard Jacobson, I listened to the audiobook of Kalooki Nights. Did the reviewer actually read this book or just thumb through the beginning? I wouldn't say it is funny, ha-ha funny. It's funny in that sad sense of the surreal attempt to come to terms with the aftermath of the Holocaust. As an American Jew in the vanguard of the post-war baby boom (b. 1946) I had been disturbed by the unaswerable questions to my parents about how could they have not known what was going on, how could they have just let all this happen. Kalooki Nights shares my bewilderment and Jacobsen's characters act out in their own idiosyncratic ways how a Jew and/or Germans live with the horror. Kalooki Nights could be subtitled with Max Glickman's opus title--Five Thousand Years of Bitterness. Jacobson's humor is of the ironic. Jacobson is Glickman like Roth is Zuckerman. Speaking through a cartoonist allows him to view life with this irony and look for the absurd. About the audiobook, I know British English varies from American English in pronunciation, but does British Hebrew also vary? But then I have noticed that many audiobooks are often incorrect with regard to proper pronunciation in general. Just wondered if there were any other audiobook listeners of this one who might know. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 keatssycamore | 1/1/2014

    " Really more like a 2 and a half star read for me. I'll try to write more about this book, b/c I did like the middle third quite a bit, but still found the whole somehow lacking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise Loveless | 12/24/2013

    " It was difficult to get into at first but I am glad I finished the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blakely | 9/14/2012

    " This book is a masterpiece - a riveting examination of what makes up a person and a life as well as a discussion on the repercussions of good and evil. This is one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in years. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jen | 6/8/2012

    " I tried but couldn't get past the first hundred pages. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meg | 12/31/2011

    " I gave it 200 pages, and it was still going nowhere. Maybe it's time I move on to some non-Jewish themed books for a while. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mom | 12/21/2011

    " A smart book which surprised me with funny remarks to which I actually laughed out loud when alone. The narrator, Max, encounters everything in life, in the world from the single perspective of being Jewish. With Max, the book circles the question of why orthodox Manny gassed his parents to death. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aaron | 6/8/2011

    " Very self-indulgent, over caffeinated British Philip Roth meets Woody Allen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dusty | 2/19/2010

    " this book is alright, it has a lot of thoughts on how the holocaust lasted and morphed through the jewish generations in london. i enjoyed it's timeless seamless connection of things. but the female characters could have used more airtime and clout. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/13/2010

    " A bit difficult to get through all the Jewish-self-hate sometimes, but very well written. Learned British jews have many more complexes than American jews. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Vicky | 5/28/2009

    " Seldom give up on books, maybe I'll try to read it again sometime. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Baz | 2/28/2009

    " Would give this a 3.5 if I could. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Randi | 12/23/2008

    " I found this book very difficult to read. Too much Jewish angst, and no humor that I could detect. "

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About the Author
Author Howard JacobsonHOWARD JACOBSON has written fourteen novels and five works of non-fiction. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J. Howard Jacobson’s first book, Shakespeare’s Magnanimity, written with the scholar Wilbur Sanders, was a study of four Shakespearean heroes. Now he has returned to the Bard with a contemporary interpretation of The Merchant of Venice.
About the Narrator

Steven Crossley, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, has built a career on both sides of the Atlantic as an actor and audiobook narrator, for which he has won eleven AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a nominee for the prestigious Audie Award. He is a member of the internationally renowned theater company Complicite and has appeared in numerous theater, television, film, and radio dramas.