This book should be thrust into the hands of any infidel who has ever uttered the words, “I just don’t like short stories”. It has a completeness and aliveness and dare I say, accessibility, that makes it a great first venture for the uninitiated, and each five pages contain more action than most novels. This is writing characterised by generosity, where being generous doesn’t mean giving too much, but giving just the right amount.
The 52-year-old Israeli author inspires devotion among his fans– Clive James has called him “one of the most important writers alive” – and these 22 tales showcase why. In Keret’s world, whimsy often conceals gut-wrenching wisdom, and heartache usually comes laced with hilarity. If Kafka were reincarnated as a comedy writer in Tel Aviv, his work might look something like this. The invention in these stories is dazzling: time and again, Keret hits on an idea so good that another writer would turn it into a novel... Although the tales are divided between five translators (Sondra Silverston, Nathan Englander, Jessica Cohen, Miriam Shlesinger and Yardenne Greenspan), each captures Keret’s dry, almost clinical style superbly. The book shows a master of the short story pushing against the limits of what the form can achieve.