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Extended Audio Sample Kalooki Nights: A Novel, by Howard Jacobson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (271 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:
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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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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