This book is kind of like a two-in-one. It fits our Literary Voyage Around the World Reading Challenge 2018 quite well, and at the same time it is also perfect for our current reading theme on memoirs and biographies.
Written by Etgar Keret
Published by Granta Books (2016, First Published in 2013). Original Title: שבע השנים הטובות [Sheva Ha-Shanim Ha-Tovot]
ISBN-13: 9781783780471 Literary Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Humor (2015), Winner of the English Pen Award
Given to me as a gift. Book photos taken by me.
One of the reasons why I love attending the Singapore Writers Festival every year is because I am introduced to authors I would otherwise not have known. Etgar Keret was one of my greatest discoveries last year.
Watching a documentary made about his life immediately turned me into a fan. I remembered thinking: where has this author been all my life? I have been wanting, desperately, to find a copy of the movie online but to no avail. Here is the trailer, though, which I managed to find on Youtube.
Last Christmas, my husband got me three of his novels. One of them, The Seven Good Years, fits our memoir theme perfectly.
The entire collection spans seven years of Keret’s life – starting from the time his son, Lev, was born. Each year is marked by four to seven very short stories. Keret has mastered the science and art of short-story writing, as each one is fully formed, distilled to its barest essence, and leaves a lingering taste in the reader’s mouth, making the reader want for more, while at the same time leaving a satiated feeling that one has been fully nourished by that one story.
He is one of those rare authors who has the formidable power of making the reader laugh out loud with his deadpan humour that picks on the absurdity of life like a scab from a really violent wound, yet the scab itches mercilessly that it almost tickles. An example of that would be his Call and Response which talks about the persistent telemarketer who politely and doggedly insinuates her marketing skills even into the afterlife.
Bird’s Eye, on the other hand, was a reflective and meditative look at Angry Birds and its potential terrorist underpinnings, as pointed out by Keret’s mother:
I also tried to determine through his vignettes how he feels about what is going on between Israel and Palestine (a country which I also virtually visited through my literary voyage, as can be seen here), and I found a few traces of that in The Way We War. I am floored by his subtlety, his evasive yet pointed ownership of what is currently happening in the seemingly-never-ending conflict with the Palestinians, and his humanity in the face of it all. This is also shown in the vignette Just Another Sinner where he talked about the role and responsibility of writers and artists in documenting reality, the way they perceive it.
His love for his own parents, especially his father, from whom he most likely got his predilection for weaving wonders with words, is shown in the story Long View:
If you haven’t had a chance yet to read his works, you are truly missing out on a great deal. There is something enriching in the way he views the world, as he captures beauty and meaning in all their fleeting and transient glory, before it is snuffed out with violence, as all deaths are. The man is a born storyteller, and the world is a much better place with his stories in it.
Here is another one of his vignettes transformed into a video snippet, just to further convince you. Enjoy!
#LitWorld2018GB Update: 29 of 40 – Israel