The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Bound by Dominic Riley

Sewn on four tapes. Decorated endpapers by binder, painted edges, silk sewn headbands. Cushioned, laminated boards, laced on. Covered in dark brown goatskin with inlays of three shades of lighter brown goat.
Impressed shapes and gold tooled decoration. Protective box lined with felt and covered with buckram.

Three themes came through strongly in reading the book: the ever-present friend, Finkler, the recurrent letter J of Ju, Jew, Juno, etc, and the overwhelming question the collision of these two elements produce. So I decided to represent the story typographically, in abstract, as a collision of competing forces working within Treslove’s head. So Finkler becomes reduced to, or encapsulated in, his capital letter, just as the letter J stands in for all the Js that begin to take over Treslove’s world. The question mark ties them together.

The elements of the design rotate around the binding, turning ninety degrees each time, some clearly visible and some disappearing off the edges. This aims to symbolize the degree to which the forces at work through the novel are always shifting, coming in and out of focus, and often colliding.

By using three different methods of depicting the typographic shapes – leather inlay, impressions in the leather, and gold tooling – I was both giving textural variation to the design whilst suggesting the different values of events, perceptions and implications of these forces.

The endpapers encapsulate just one of these elements, the question mark, and are created by airbrushing different shades of brown acrylics over cut-out question marks, several times, to achieve the multi-layered effect.