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Kalooki Nights

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The narrator of Kalooki Nights, Howard Jacobson’s ninth novel is Max Glickman, a middle-aged Jewish cartoonist for whom ”nothing was so dreadful that I couldn’t see its essential drollery.” Certainly he’s able to locate gallows humor in most aspects of life: Glickman’s Jewish-history-themed graphic novel Five Thousand Years of Bitterness is subtitled The F — -ing of the Jews. Yes, Jacobson’s good taste may be debatable, but not his ability to summon up rich, colorful characters, including a boyhood acquaintance of Glickman’s whose parricidal ways drive the novel’s plot, and the cartoonist’s mother, whose obsession with the card game kalooki explains its title. B+