A comic novelist takes on the Holocaust
By Victoria A. Brownworth
Special to The Sun
Originally published April 29, 2007

Kalooki Nights By Howard Jacobson
Simon & Schuster / 464 pages / $26

The war in Iraq has made many of us painfully aware of the power religion has to wound as well as heal. The internecine religious civil war in Iraq exemplifies just how awry religion can go from its true purpose. The very beliefs that are meant to make us more humane can often have the opposite effect, spurring people to rage, violence, murder.

British writer Howard Jacobson journeys into this complex terrain of religious identity in his latest novel, Kalooki Nights. His protagonist, Max Glickman, is a secular Jew growing up in Manchester, England, in the 1950s when World War II and the Holocaust were fresh wounds in the Jewish community. Max’s best friends are Manny, an Orthodox Jew, and Errol, an adolescent hedonist right out of a Philip Roth novel.